Khan slams blocked speech on Youtube as 'unacceptable censorship'
Khan accuses the Pakistani government of "unacceptable" censorship after national access to YouTube was blocked in an attempt to prevent the live broadcast of his rally speech.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the government of censoring his speech Tuesday, saying the move would damage the country's reputation.
Last month, the government's media regulatory body blocked Khan's speeches from being broadcast live, claiming that they were instigating unrest. Even though this week the high court ruled the order illegal, no TV channels broadcast Tuesday's speech.
Even after leaving office in April, Khan still maintains his popularity among the public and has staged mass rallies across the country calling for early elections and railing against the government, as his speeches frequently draw top ratings on television, with highlights trending on social media in Pakistan.
On Tuesday, YouTube crashed across much of the country as Khan addressed a rally in Peshawar, with Netblocks, a London-based internet outage monitor, confirming the disruption and telling AFP, "Access was restored after the speech concluded." YouTube has yet to comment on the issue, and a representative of the Pakistan Telecoms Authority declared that they had "no idea about it."
Khan tweeted: "They are imposing complete blackout of my speeches not only from mainstream media but also by blocking YouTube, this fascist govt of cabal of crooks & their backers are willing to harm the interests of Pakistan simply out of fear of (his party) PTI's soaring popularity. Utterly callous & unacceptable."
Last month, a pro-Khan television station critical of the current government, ARY News, was taken off the air, but a court last week also ordered the move illegal. Another private TV channel, Bol News, was suspended last week allegedly for carrying an expired license but insisted later it was being penalized "for showing what the government doesn't like."
Free speech campaigners have long criticized the creeping censorship and control of Pakistan's internet, printed, and electronic media. According to Usama Khilji, a digital rights activist, it is protected under digital martial law.
Khan is due in court on Thursday for a hearing on one of the cases and charges against him since leaving office by a vote of no confidence in the national assembly, as he is charged with violating anti-terrorism laws after allegedly threatening a female judge and two senior police officials at a rally in Islamabad last month.
Current premier Shehbaz Sharif also has ongoing cases from when he was in opposition.
The country's political crisis comes as the country struggles with the worst floods in its history, leaving 33 million people affected by record rains that doused almost a third of the nation under water.