Pakistan's Media Regulatory Authority orders monitoring of former chief minister's speeches after Khan's threats against police chiefs and judge Zeba Chaudhry

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan charged with terrorism

photo_camera REUTERS/NASEER CHAUDARY - File photo. Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan during a rally to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir, in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, 13 September 2019

Less than three days after his arrest, and a few months after the massive demonstrations in which thousands of supporters of the former prime minister -now dismissed- marched to Islamabad to demand the calling of new general elections, Imran Khan has once again aroused indignation among his followers. On this occasion, and in front of his residence in the Pakistani capital, hundreds of people gathered to prevent the arrest of the former head of government, accused of terrorism. 

Imran Khan "continuously accuses state institutions by making baseless accusations", the Pakistani authorities denounced "hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officials, which is detrimental to the maintenance of law and order". The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Sunday banned live broadcasts of Khan's speeches after the former prime minister's warnings against Federal Capital Judge Zeba Chaudhry and Pakistani police chiefs in his latest public addresses. 

On tape

During his speech - in a rally that was also broadcast in real time - on Saturday night, Imran Khan called for the support of the army after denouncing the "torture" and abuses to which, according to former Prime Minister Shahbaz Gill, another Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader, accused of sedition and arrested on 9 August, is being held in police custody. Khan threatened the Islamabad police chiefs with charges of alleged police abuses, and Zeba Chaudhry, the judge in charge of Gill's case who approved the extension of his remand, with filing charges against him as well. 

"There has been no violence. The videos being shared on social media are fake videos," said Pakistan's information minister, Marriyum Aurangzeb, in response to Imran Khan's accusations, whom she accused of making "false propaganda". 

For all these reasons, the PEMRA announced the decision to "establish an effective mechanism to ensure effective monitoring and editorial control" of the former prime minister's frequent speeches, which, from now on, will only be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis. The PTI has described the move as "fascist", saying it will challenge it in court. 

Judicial contempt 

As if Khan's legal situation was not complicated enough, a charge of contempt of court for threats against the judge was added to the charges of violating Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act on Monday. The Islamabad High Court (IHC), through a bench comprising Justices Mian Gul Hasan Aurangzeb and Babar Sattar and headed by Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, on Monday decided to initiate contempt of court proceedings against former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan, which will begin on Tuesday. 

Khan's fervent protection

In the face of this situation, PTI supporters and followers of its chairman were quick to take to the streets of Islamabad, and to the streets of the capital, Islamabad. The streets of Islamabad, and especially around Imran Khan's residence, were today taken over by hundreds of followers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political formation who sought to prevent the arrest of the charismatic leader of populist tendencies while clamouring against the government of the new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif.


"They have registered a terrorism case against him, but in reality it is the terrorists who want to suppress the voices of millions of people. We will be here until Khan asks us to leave," one of the protesters told Efe news agency, highlighting the depth of Khan's speeches, who, after being forced out of power by a no-confidence motion in early April, accused Washington and the CIA of being behind the political movement. 

"If Imran is arrested (...) we will take Islamabad," PTI's former revenue and finance minister and former federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, warned on his Twitter account. 

However, this popular pressure appeared not to have been necessary after the announcement by lawyer Fawad Chaudhry, a member of Khan's legal team: "the Islamabad High Court has granted a three-day protective bail to Imran Khan". Until 25 August. A situation that buys the former prime minister some time to avoid arrest while, according to Chaundhry, "he appears before the Anti-Terrorism Court and faces the charges against him". 

A coalition against him

The coalition parties in the current government have urged the judiciary to take legal action against Khan and his inner circle, accusing them in a joint statement of "interfering in the home minister's affairs and threatening government officials and staff who are performing their duties in accordance with the law".