Security personnel arrest Pervez Elahi near his house in Lahore in this screengrab photo.
The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab with the help of provincial police on Thursday arrested former Punjab chief minister and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi from near his Lahore residence.
Pakistan is beset by political turmoil as Imran Khan's party has faced a countrywide crackdown since his own arrest on May 9 for suspected graft sparked widespread protests that saw mobs ransacking state installations, including military assets.
Pervez Elahi joins a long list of key PTI leaders arrested in the security swoop to halt turmoil that has threatened to worsen instability in a country reeling from a crippling financial crisis. The latest police raid that netted Elahi was quickly denounced by Imran’s party.
Caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir confirmed Elahi's arrest, saying he was in his vehicle and "trying to flee" when he was arrested.
"Yes, he has been arrested from the Zahoor Elahi Road. He was taken into custody while trying to flee," the minister told a TV channel. "Several raids were carried out at his residence. He was wanted. Today, out of the blue, a couple of bullet-proof cars came out of the house. He was in one of the cars."
Mir said that law enforcers tried to stop and check the bullet-proof cars at a check-post. He said that the former chief minister resisted the arrest and was not opening the door of his bullet-proof vehicle, therefore, the law enforcers had to break the side mirror of his vehicle.
"After resistance, there was an attempt to break the car's window on the driver's side. Elahi was inside the car," he said.
The minister emphasised that, during initial attempts to apprehend Elahi, there were significant instances of mismanagement, and thus the arrest was made after proper planning.
"The series of arbitrary arrests began in January, and it was then that my father told me that even if they arrest me, we must stand by Imran Khan,” the former chief minister's son, Moonis, tweeted shortly after the arrest. He said that his parents had expressed the same sentiments three days ago.
"It is being alleged that the police have unlawfully apprehended my father based on false charges. We are, by the grace of Allah, affiliated with PTI and will continue to remain so,” he said.
The latest development comes a day after former British cabinet ministers, senior law officers, renowned journalists and legal rights organisations issued an appeal for the release of Murad Akbar, the brother of attorney Shahzad Akbar, a rights lawyer linked with Imran Khan.
Imran himself was detained last month, sparking violent protests. Since then, police have detained thousands of Khan's followers for alleged involvement in the deadly turmoil, many of whom have been since released.
Various corruption cases have been registered against the former Punjab chief minister, who is accused of receiving kickbacks for awarding several government development projects during his tenure.
Earlier, a special judge of an anti-corruption court in Lahore issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the former Punjab chief minister, ordering authorities to produce him by June 2.
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