South Asia

Pakistan’s PM Sharif warns of ‘iron hand’ response to protesters

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday said that the response to deadly unrest in the wake of the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan would be iron-handed, warning protesters against any further attacks on state installations.

At least eight people have died in violence that has aggravated instability in the South Asian country of 220 million people as it grapples with a severe economic crisis and a delay to an International Monetary Fund bailout since November.

Khan was arrested in a land fraud case on Tuesday, May 9, prompting supporters to storm military buildings and ransack the residence of a top army general in the eastern city of Lahore.

“They detained people inside vehicles on roads, risking their lives. So much so that they pulled patients from ambulances and set the vehicles on fire. Private and government vehicles were burned,” Sharif said.

Other state buildings and assets have been attacked and set ablaze by protesters, and the government said on Wednesday it had approved requests from two of Pakistan’s four provinces – Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both Khan strongholds – and the federal capital Islamabad to deploy troops to restore order.