Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrested, aides called for a nationwide protest

(Reuters) – Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog arrested former prime minister Imran Khan in Islamabad’s High Court on Tuesday, in a dramatic move that threatens fresh turmoil in the nuclear-armed country.

Video footage of the arrest showed dozens of security personnel in riot gear abducting Khan in a truck as Khan’s party called for nationwide protests.

“People of Pakistan, this is the time to save your country. You will not get any other chance,” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf wrote on Twitter.

The arrest comes at a time when ordinary Pakistanis are suffering the worst economic crisis in decades, with record high inflation and anemic growth.

The rescue package from the International Monetary Fund has been delayed for several months even though foreign exchange reserves are barely enough to cover one month’s imports

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that the National Accountability Bureau arrested Khan after he failed to appear before him “despite notifications”.

The NAB had issued warrants for Khan’s arrest on May 1, according to a warrant seen by Reuters. “Khan is accused of committing a crime of corruption and corrupt practices,” it added.

The corruption case against Khan is one of more than 100 registered against him since he was ousted from power in a parliamentary vote in April last year. He served four years of his five-year term.

In most cases, Khan faces being banned from public office if convicted, with national elections due in November.

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Previous attempts to arrest Khan from his home in Lahore have led to violent clashes between his supporters and law enforcement officials.

Political infighting is common in Pakistan, where no prime minister has yet met a full term and where the military has ruled for nearly half of the country’s history.

(Reporting by Shivam Patel from New Delhi). Editing by Andrew Heavens

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