Monday, August 22, 2022

Pakistan: Charges of terrorism against Imran Khan and prevents broadcasting of his speeches

    Monday, August 22, 2022   No comments

Pakistani authorities deploy the "terrorism" label to address political dissent, risking instability and further uncertainty.

On Monday, Pakistani police charged former Prime Minister Imran Khan with terrorism charges, who is leading popular demonstrations calling for early elections.

The former prime minister of Pakistan accused the government of briefly blocking YouTube in the country to prevent Pakistanis from listening live to his speech at a political rally on Sunday evening.

"The importing government blocked YouTube in the middle of my speech," Khan said in a tweet.

Demonstration in Pakistan against the continued detention of a leader in the "Insaf" party

Supporters of the Pakistan "Insaf" party led by Imran Khan demonstrated against the authority's continued detention of the party's leader, Shahbaz Gul, 10 days ago.


The demonstrators demanded the release of Shahbaz Gul, who is the deputy head of the party. Simultaneously, the local government in Punjab - led by allied with Imran Khan - issued an arrest warrant for 12 officials in the ruling party.


Saturday night's protest gathering was followed by the arrest of a prominent leader of the "Insaf Movement", who was accused by the authorities of making statements against the army on a TV channel whose broadcast was later suspended.


Criticism of the military establishment that has ruled Pakistan for nearly half of its 75-year history is a red line.


Asad Omar, a senior official in the "Insaf Movement", denounced the move by the media regulator to ban Khan's speeches. "Banning Imran Khan's speeches is another attempt to find an administrative solution to a political problem," he told AFP. He added that his party would file an appeal against the decision before the court.


Simultaneously, a decree was issued banning TV channels from broadcasting live speeches by former Prime Minister Imran Khan.


The media regulator issued this decision against the background of a speech in which Khan criticized police and judicial officials after the arrest of one of his party leaders.


The authority said that Khan "is making baseless accusations and spreading hate speech," adding that "his provocative statements against state institutions and officers will cause disturbances - most likely - to public peace and tranquility."

Pakistan opposition warns Khan's arrest would cross 'red line' after being reported under anti-terror law


Pakistani opposition leaders warned Monday that the authorities would cross a "red line" if they arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan, after he was reported under the Anti-Terrorism Act over comments he made about the judiciary.

Since being ousted in a no-confidence vote in April, Khan has organized rallies across the country, warning state institutions including the military not to back the coalition government led by his longtime political rival Shahbaz Sharif.

Hundreds gathered outside Khan's home on Monday, apparently with the aim of preventing police access, but Khan has been facing a raft of charges for several months, and he has yet to be arrested.

For his part, former Information Minister Fouad Chaudhry wrote on Twitter, "Wherever you are, go to Bani Gala today and show solidarity with Imran Khan," referring to Khan's home. "Imran Khan is our red line," he added.

An initial police report was filed on Sunday as the first step in a process that could lead to formal charges and an arrest.

A light police presence was observed outside Khan's residence Monday, as about 500 supporters of his party gathered in the affluent suburb.

Muhammad Ayub said he traveled overnight from Peshawar in the northwest to be on site to show support for Khan.

"We will protest and block the roads if Khan is arrested," he told AFP.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party said in a statement that the latest accusations against him were "frivolous".

"We have serious reservations about this politically motivated step, which leads to more instability in the country," he added.

Khan on Saturday criticized a judge responsible for keeping a party official in police custody, after party leaders said he was tortured in custody.

Khan's main goal is to hold an early general election before the expected date before October 2023, but the government has shown no indication that it is willing to go to the polls at a time when it is facing significant economic problems.

Since he was ousted from power by a vote of no-confidence last April, Imran Khan has organized a series of popular anti-government demonstrations.


The ban came into effect immediately on Saturday night, the same day Khan held a rally in the capital where he criticized police and judiciary officials over the arrest of one of his party leaders.


Khan remains popular among young people, with his speeches attracting the highest viewership ratings on television channels, while his highlights are widely shared on social media.


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