Pakistan media watchdog bans broadcasts of ex-PM Imran Khan speeches
Pakistan's media regulator bans broadcasts of former Prime Minister Imran Khan's speeches.
Imran Khan's speeches can no longer be broadcast on Pakistani TV stations, according to the official media watchdog, the latest challenge the politician is facing as he pushes for early elections.
Khan, who was ousted from office last year in a no-confidence vote, has been exerting pressure on the precarious alliance that took his place with daily speeches, frequent demonstrations, and accusations of corruption.
In the meantime, Pakistan's mudslinging politics have entangled the 70-year-old former cricketing legend in a number of complex judicial disputes.
Late on Sunday, as authorities attempted to detain Khan in connection with an investigation into alleged corruption, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) imposed a ban with immediate effect on Khan's live speeches and reruns.
This came after Khan made a speech in front of hundreds of supporters outside his house.
“I am being summoned in fake cases and the nation should know about them,” he said, adding, “It will be a bad omen for the country if the nation does not stand against the corrupt rulers.”
PEMRA said he was “leveling baseless allegations and spreading hate speech… against state institutions and officers” which are “likely to disturb public peace”.
A private TV channel that supports Khan, ARY News, was also suspended by PEMRA a few hours after the notification.
Pakistan imposes strict restrictions on speech. For the sake of "public order, decency or morality," the constitution permits restrictions on free speech, a clause that rights organizations say is meant to silence opposition.
TV networks are usually ordered to change their coverage for political reasons.
As Khan failed to appear in a corruption case late last month, Islamabad police officials went to his residence in Lahore to try to arrest him, but they finally failed.
He's accused of not disclosing gifts he received while in office or the money he made from selling them.
Due to an electorate weary of the dynastic politics of Pakistan's two major parties, Khan won the election in 2018 and made a commitment to end ingrained corruption and cronyism, but he is now mired in accusations that are identical to those leveled against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Khan is still incredibly well-liked among the nation's youth, and his speeches garner massive television audiences while the clips go viral on social media.
It is worth noting that Al Mayadeen correspondent in Pakistan said the Islamabad police were in Lahore to arrest former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in cooperation with the Punjab police.
However, the police handed former Prime Minister Imran Khan a warrant to attend a trial on March 7 without arresting him, according to our correspondent.
Islamabad Police reported that SP went inside but Imran Khan is not present. He is hiding from the arrest.— Muhammad Ibrahim (@miqazi) March 5, 2023
Recovering from an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year, the former Prime Minister missed three indictment hearings in the case in an Islamabad sessions court.
According to Dawn, he is accused of "allegedly concealing, in his assets declarations, details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana — a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept."
Islamabad Police said Imran Khan was "avoiding" the arrest, noting that the superintendent of police had "gone into Imran’s room but he was not present there."
On February 28, Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Imran Khan for failing to appear in person for the indictment.
Read: Declassified: Khan says West plants corruption, feeds on Global South