Pakistani opposition party leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi detained

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News Desk

The vice-chairman of jailed Pakistani former prime minister Imran Khan’s party was arrested on Saturday, a spokesman said, part of a widening crackdown on the former ruling party.

Authorities have made widespread arrests targeting Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in recent months, crushing his grassroots power by rounding up thousands of his supporters as well as senior leaders.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who served as Khan’s foreign minister, was arrested in the capital Islamabad shortly after giving a press conference in which he slammed authorities for delaying elections.

“He was arrested from his residence by Islamabad police. We don’t have any further details yet,” a PTI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

Khan, a former international cricket star turned politician, was jailed earlier this month after being convicted of graft in one of the more than 200 cases he has faced since being ousted as PM in a no-confidence vote in April 2022.

The three-year sentence disqualifies him from taking part in elections, although many politicians — including outgoing prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and his brother former premier Nawaz Sharif — have in the past had convictions overturned to make a comeback.

Sharif’s shaky coalition government that replaced Khan dissolved parliament earlier this month, with a caretaker government led by little-known politician Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar sworn in to lead the country until elections.

Elections are due within 90 days according to the constitution, but there has been speculation for months that they would be delayed as the government and military grapple to stabilise a country facing overlapping security, economic and political crises.

Data from the latest national census was finally published earlier this month, and the outgoing government said the election commission needed time to redraw constituency boundaries.

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