Tension in Pakistan: thousands of people demanded the resignation of the president of the Supreme Court for having released the former prime minister

Supporters of the Pakistan Democratic Alliance protest outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Monday, May 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Thousands of Pakistani government supporters rallied outside the country’s Supreme Court on Monday demanding the resignation of the chief justice for ordering the release of the former prime minister. Imran Khanin an unusual challenge to the judiciary of the nation.

The Pakistan Democratic Alliance, a grouping of 13 political parties affiliated with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, called for the protests. The alliance was behind the joint action to oust Khan in a no-confidence motion in parliament on April 20, 2022.

Khan’s dramatic arrest in an Islamabad court last week sparked outrage among legions of his supporters, who torched buildings and vehicles in major cities and attacked military installations. At least 10 people died in pitched battles with the police. Scores were injured and thousands of Khan’s supporters from his Terik-e-Insaf party were detained.

Imran Khan is escorted after being released from prison (REUTERS / Akhtar Soomro)
Imran Khan is escorted after being released from prison (REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro) (AKHTAR SOOMRO/)

The Supreme Court, chaired by Umar Ata Bandial, intervened and ordered his release. Bandial criticized the way Khan was detained, saying his detention was illegal. But the government and its allies have accused the judge of bias.

Convoys packed with government supporters flooded Islamabad’s main road on their way to the Supreme Court, despite a government-imposed ban on rallies and public gatherings following the unrest.

Our peaceful protest is against the Chief Justice (Umar Ata Bandial) for facilitating the release of Imran Khan”, declared Fazalur Rehman, head of the Pakistan Democratic Alliance.

The radical Islamist political party Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam is leading the call for protest. Also part of the alliance is the Pakistan People’s Party, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a top organizer for the ruling party and daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was also present at the sit-in.

(With information from AP)

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