Police in Pakistan used batons and water cannons to disperse hundreds of activists from the main opposition party who were protesting the arrest of their leader on Thursday, leaving dozens wounded.
The protest erupted in the eastern city of Lahore when the country’s corruption watchdog took opposition leader, Shahbaz Sharif, to a court for a pre-trial hearing on graft charges.
Shahbaz is the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and has been in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), a federal anti-corruption body, for almost three months.
The younger Sharif is suspected of corruption during his time as chief minister of the central province of Punjab between 2013 and 2018.
“The protesters clashed with riot police when they were stopped from marching into the court premises,’’ local administration official, Mohamed Usman, said.
Unusually for a political demonstration in Pakistan, among their ranks were hundreds of women.
“At least three dozen activists were wounded as police fired tear gas into the crowd and used batons and water cannons to disrupt the protesters,’’ Mohamed Mehdi, a spokesman for Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party, said.
Nawaz Sharif condemned the use of force against the “peaceful” protesters, saying it shows the government’s frustration.
Prime Minister Imran Khan took over in August after defeating the party of Sharif, who said the July election was rigged with the backing of the country’s powerful military.