Pakistan Supreme Court declares arrest of former PM ‘invalid and unlawful’ News
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Pakistan Supreme Court declares arrest of former PM ‘invalid and unlawful’

Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared Thursday that the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan was “invalid and unlawful.” Pakistani authorities arrested Khan outside of the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday, sparking protests which continue to brew across the country.

Khan appeared before the court Thursday morning. According to the court, Pakistani authorities violated Khan’s “right of access to justice and the sanctity and safety of the Court,” noting that he had already surrendered himself at the time of his arrest. The court referenced Khan’s rights under articles 4, 9, 10-A, and 14 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Those articles respectively protect an individual’s right to be dealt with in accordance with the law, right to life and liberty in accordance with the law, protection from unlawful arrest and detention, and right to dignity and privacy.

The court ordered Khan’s release and requested that he once again appear before the Islamabad High Court on Friday at 11:00 AM local time for the court to consider Khan’s writ petition challenging the action brought against him. The court ordered “foolproof security” for Khan to ensure he arrives at the court on Friday, specifically police custody in a guest house near the court.

The incident has sparked what one of JURIST’s Pakistani correspondents labeled “an unprecedented moment in Pakistan’s history.” In response to growing protests across the country, Pakistan’s government deployed the army late Wednesday night. Unverified figures released by Tehreek-e-insaf (PTI), Khan’s political party, indicate that as many as 1400 people have been arrested since protests broke out on Tuesday.

The events have drawn international attention, with Human Rights Watch (HRW) calling the Pakistani government’s response “excessive.” According to HRW, in addition to physical suppression of protesters, the government has also placed restrictions on internet services including Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and others. JURIST’s correspondent echoed this experience.

Khan was meant to appear before the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday to face multiple allegations of corruption. He appeared after previously failed attempts by Pakistani authorities to arrest Khan in March. Since then, tensions have been high between Khan’s PTI and the Pakistani government. Early on Thursday, before Khan’s appearance, Pakistan’s Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb threatened to set fire to Supreme Court justice’s houses if they agreed to Khan’s release.