Pakistan anti-corruption body arrests key opposition leader

The opposition says the arrests are politically motivated but Prime Minister Khan says it is part of his agenda against corruption [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]
The opposition says the arrests are politically motivated but Prime Minister Khan says it is part of his agenda against corruption [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

Pakistan’s anti-corruption body on Tuesday ordered the arrest of a key opposition leader on charges of having assets higher than his known sources of income, a spokesman said.

The arrest of Khawaja Asif, who served as foreign minister in the government of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, comes days after the opposition asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign until January 31 or face prolonged protests in the capital Islamabad. Pakistani opposition parties have been holding rallies across the country to pressure Khan to resign over his alleged failure to improve the country’s economy. In a brief statement, Nawazish Ali, a spokesperson for the National Accountability Bureau, confirmed Asif’s arrest, saying he was taken into custody for having “assets beyond known sources of income”.

Asif has been critical of Khan and is a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League party of Sharif, who now resides in London, the former prime minister was recently declared a fugitive for not returning home to face corruption charges. Sharif fell from grace after the country’s judiciary removed him from office over corruption allegations in 2017, his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif was also arrested on corruption charges. The opposition says the arrests are politically motivated but Prime Minister Khan says it is part of his agenda against corruption.

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