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Pakistan hands over dozens of pro-Khan protesters for trial in army courts

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Pakistan’s civilian authorities have handed over 33 suspects to be tried in military courts following the attacks on army installations during violent protests in support of former prime minister Imran Khan, the interior minister announced.

“The accused who are being handed over to the military are those who trespassed and entered very sensitive defence installations,” Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters on Friday.

Protests flared across Pakistan after Khan’s arrest on May 9, and while he was subsequently released on bail on numerous charges, including graft, his confrontation with the country’s powerful generals had escalated.

Protesters stormed military installations, including the house of a top general in Lahore, which was set ablaze. Thousands of people, most of them Khan’s supporters have been rounded up since.

Military courts are closed to outsiders, and no media is allowed. Rights groups have criticised the secretive nature of the process.

The political unrest has worsened as Pakistan faces its worst economic crisis in decades. Inflation is at record highs, economic growth is anaemic, and there are fears that the country could default on external debts unless the International Monetary Fund unlocks delayed disbursements.

In a separate development, a prominent Pakistani television journalist known for his public support of Khan has gone missing, the police, his family and his employer said.

Sami Abrahim’s disappearance was first announced in a police tweet late on Wednesday, hours after he went missing. His family and the Karachi-based independent BOL television, where Abrahim works, claimed on Thursday that he had been abducted.

Abrahim has long publicly opposed the government of Khan’s successor, Premier Shahbaz Sharif.

Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, was in office in 2018-2022 and was ousted in a no-confidence vote in the parliament last year.

In a news announcement, BOL TV said Abrahim was taken by unidentified men on Wednesday. Abrahim’s brother, Ali Raza, filed a police complaint claiming that eight people in four vehicles intercepted his brother’s car on his way back home from work in the capital, Islamabad, and took him away. His driver was unharmed.

Source: TRTworld.com

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