At least 10 people have been killed and 2,000 arrested as violent protests have swept the country since Imran Khan was held. Credit: Reuters (Imran Khan sp

The dramatic arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan last week on allegations of corruption was deemed illegal by Pakistan's Supreme Court.

The court ordered Khan's immediate release. His attorneys had contended that his Tuesday detention outside of the Islamabad courthouse was illegal.

Since he was detained, there have been violent protests around the nation, resulting in at least 10 deaths and 2,000 arrests.

Tensions between him and the military had been rising before his detention on Tuesday.

The top judge of Pakistan issued the decision to bring the opposition leader, who had been overthrown in a vote of confidence in April of last year, to court.

Media scurried through the hallways as Khan entered the court to record his first public appearance since his detention, BBC reported.

Khan was escorted by security and kept his mouth shut as he entered the wood-paneled courtroom, which was filled with media and party officials.

Khan stood surrounded by his lawyers in front of the three Supreme Court judges as they told him that because of the way he had been arrested on Tuesday - inside a court complex, conducting biometric tests - the arrest was not valid.

The video of his detention shows paramilitary personnel dragging Khan, who was hurt in a shooting last year, from the courthouse before escorting him away in an armored car.

"Your arrest was invalid so the whole process needs to be backtracked," Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial told Khan. He would now be under the protection of the Supreme Court.

It was then Khan's turn to speak, defiant and indignant at the way he had been arrested.

The former cricketer claimed to have been "hit with sticks" while being kidnapped from the High Court on Tuesday.

The judges repeatedly reminded him that other people had been treated worse.

The security forces didn't respond to the allegation right away.

The cases against him, according to his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, are politically motivated.

His followers were furious by the detention since it followed 48 hours of extensive unrest and infrequent attacks on government and military buildings.

Those detained include seven top PTI leaders. They include Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the former foreign minister, who police said, "incited violence".

Qureshi denied this in a statement and asked supporters to carry on with peaceful demonstrations.

Since Tuesday, Khan has been detained at a police guesthouse in the capital. On Wednesday, the guesthouse was transformed into a temporary court, and on that day, a judge officially accused Khan of corruption for the first time among the numerous cases he is facing. He pleaded not guilty.

Former Pakistani ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the BBC she thought the court's decision would help to defuse the anger of Khan's supporters.

"The last couple of days have seen extraordinary violence by protesters who are supporters of Imran Khan, who are obviously enraged by the manner in which he was arrested," she said.

"There is still uncertainty, but hopefully the situation will not return to the kind of violent scenes that we have seen."

The court decided that Khan would have to stay at the police guesthouse despite his repeated requests to be permitted to stay at his home due to the security issue. However, the judges emphasized numerous times that he could invite anybody he wanted as a guest.

After the hearings were over, Khan sat in the court and answered questions from the media for 15 minutes. He said he was unaware that protestors had been killed or that important party figures had been detained.

He revealed to the BBC that when he was arrested, he had been struck in the head and was bleeding; he also described the reaction of his followers when those photographs went viral as not surprising.

He said that he had already made his statement, saying he had always called for protests to be peaceful when asked whether he would now ask his supporters to stop violent protests.

"Imran Khan's release proves we knew the truth," one supporter, who had spent the past few days gathered outside the PTI leader's residence in Lahore.

Another said the verdict had "revived our hope in the nation."

Khan was wounded in the leg in November 2022 while leading a protest march. The military has categorically denied that a top intelligence figure was responsible for the attack, which the military has strongly denied.

The military issued a warning against making "baseless allegations" the day before his detention after he once more claimed that a senior commander was planning to murder him.

According to observers, the nation is experiencing an unprecedented number of crises due to never-ending political unrest, a precipice economy, and rising Islamist militant violence that is undermining trust in the security forces.

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