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Pakistan Erupts in Protests as Opposition Cries Foul

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Tensions flared in Pakistan on Sunday as police clashed with supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party during nationwide protests. The PTI, led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, alleges widespread rigging in the February 8th general election and is demanding a new vote.

This outburst follows a period of escalating pressure on the PTI. Since Khan’s removal from power in 2022, the party has faced a relentless crackdown. Khan himself remains imprisoned on charges of leaking state secrets, corruption, and even holding an “unlawful” wedding. He maintains his innocence, calling these accusations politically motivated attempts to sideline him.

Further hampering the PTI’s electoral chances, the party lost its official symbol just days before the polls. Forced to run as independents, PTI candidates still emerged as the largest single group in parliament with 93 seats. However, their rivals, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), formed a coalition government with a combined 129 seats earlier this month.

The PTI vehemently rejects the current government’s legitimacy, claiming the election results were manipulated. They have demanded accountability from election officials and the interim government that oversaw the vote.

Sunday’s protests were a culmination of these frustrations. As PTI supporters rallied across the country, demonstrations in Lahore turned violent. Social media flooded with videos showing police using force against protesters. One chilling clip depicted officers dragging a man out of his car and another showed a PTI leader being forcefully detained.

The PTI condemned these actions, demanding the release of all arrested members and an end to “state repression, brutality, and fascism.” They vowed to continue holding weekly protests until their demands are met.

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