NEW DELHI: Many protestors died in clashes with Pakistani security forces as a nationwide backlash against former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest grew.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) suspended internet services across the country for an indefinite period on the orders of the Interior Ministry, local media reported.

A court on Wednesday granted an eight-day physical remand of Imran to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), an anti-corruption agency, while another court indicted him on charges of unlawfully selling state gifts during his prime ministership between 2018 and 2022.

Imran has been badly treated in custody since his arrest on Tuesday, one of his lawyers said after the former prime minister appeared in an ad hoc court in a police facility in Islamabad on Wednesday.

More than 100 cases ranging from terrorism to graft have been filed against Imran since his government was ousted in April 2022.

Meanwhile, authorities continued to step up security measures across the country in view of widening protests in major cities, including Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and Karachi.

Gatherings of more than four people were banned in Sindh and Punjab.

The army is being deployed in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to control the deteriorating situation, Pakistani television channels reported.

PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi was arrested in Islamabad and before him the party’s general secretary Asad Umar was taken into custody.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested in Punjab province alone on various charges.

At least five people were killed and 27 injured in clashes in Peshawar city, local media reported, citing hospital sources.

“There are reports of dozens of unarmed people killed across Pakistan as police forces opened straight fire on the protesters. Never has Pakistan witnessed such brutalities,“ PTI senior leader Hammad Azhar tweeted.

The ongoing turmoil may compound Pakistan’s economic woes amid its dwindling foreign exchange reserves and rising inflation.

The rupee fell 1.3 per cent to a record low of 288.5 against the US dollar on Wednesday. -Bernama