«Those scenes were never seen by the people of Pakistan,» Sharif said, after a cabinet meeting. «Even patients were taken out of ambulances and ambulances were set on fire.»
Sharif called the attacks «inexcusable» and warned that those involved in the violence would receive an exemplary punishment. He said that Khan was arrested for his involvement in corruption and that evidence was available to support these charges.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of the late Benazir Bhutto, on Thursday urged Khan’s supporters to end the violence, but stressed that peaceful protests are their right. «What happened, happened. Don’t make things more difficult for yourself,» he said.
Following the violence, the government closed schools, colleges and universities in the eastern Punjab and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, where Khan has a large following and from where most of the violence was reported after his arrest. . The government also suspended internet service in various parts of the country.
The government blames Khan and top leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party for inciting people to violence, which continued in Punjab and the northwest on Thursday.
On Wednesday, an Islamabad court ruled that the National Accountability Office can hold Khan in its custody for eight days for questioning over a corruption case.
The military headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi was attacked and Khan’s supporters stormed security posts in the northwest, burning down the Chakdara security fort on the Afghan border. In Lahore on Tuesday night, protesters looted and then burned down the residence of the top regional commander in Lahore, Lt. Gen. Salman Fayyaz Ghani.