Pakistani opposition warns of crossing 'red line' if Khan is arrested
Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry calls on people to gather in the hundreds in front of former PM Imran Khan's residence and says that his arrest would mean the crossing of a "red line."
After former prime minister Imran Khan was charged under the anti-terrorism legislation for remarks he made regarding the judiciary, Pakistani opposition leaders warned on Monday that the government would cross a "red line" if it arrested him.
Khan was Prime Minister from 2018 until April of this year when he was forced to step down after losing a confidence vote that he said was the result of a conspiracy by the US, which denies the charge.
Since then, Khan has organized large demonstrations around the nation, advising state institutions, including the military, not to support the coalition government formed by his political adversary Shehbaz Sharif.
Furthermore, masses gathered outside Khan's residence, allegedly to prevent his arrest, although the former leader has been battling a plethora of charges for months and has yet to be detained.
"Wherever you are, reach Bani Gala today and show solidarity with Imran Khan," tweeted former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, referring to Khan's home, adding that "Imran Khan is our red line."
Sunday saw the filing of a First Information Report with the police, the start of a procedure that might result in official charges and an arrest.
The report against Khan includes testimony from magistrate judge Ali Javed, who described being at the Islamabad rally and hearing Khan criticize the inspector-general of Pakistan’s police and another judge.
During his speech at Saturday's rally, Khan threatened to file his own charges against Judge Zeba Chaudhry, two police agencies, the Pakistani Election Commission, and other political opponents, warning that they would face "consequences" for their treatment of his Chief of Staff, Shahbaz Gill.
He had organized the rally in Islamabad's F-9 Park in support of Gill, who was arrested on sedition charges last week.
In a statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf party (PTI), Khan's political party, said that the latest allegations against him were "frivolous," adding that "We have serious reservations on this politically motivated move which leads towards further instability in the country."
کل رات جیسے لوگ بنی گالہ، لاہور، کراچی، فیصل آباد، ملتان، چھوٹے چھوٹے قصبوں میں بھی نکلے، مجھے امید ہے اس سے ن لیگ، پیپلز پارٹی کو ٹیسٹر مل گیا ہوگا کہ اگر عمران خان کیساتھ کچھ غیر قانونی کرنے کی کوشش کی تو لوگوں کا ری ایکشن کیا ہوگا۔@fawadchaudhry#عمران_خان_ہماری_ریڈ_لائن pic.twitter.com/4klPSUpnoJ— Fawad Chaudhry (Updates) (@FawadPTIUpdates) August 22, 2022
On the evening of August 20, following a rally led by Khan, the country's digital media watchdog, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), barred satellite stations from airing the speech – or any upcoming live addresses from Khan – unless a time-delay mechanism was in place "to ensure effective monitoring and editorial control."
Earlier this month, the PEMRA ordered the suspension of the transmission of ARY News in different parts of the country, ARY News reported.
The channel was suspended for allegedly airing "hateful, seditious and malicious content," according to PEMRA.
A PEMRA official confirmed the authenticity of the notice, which directed the channel's CEO to appear for a hearing.
The suspension came hours after the news channel reported that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had launched a systematic campaign against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and chairman Imran Khan on the recent deaths of Pakistan Army personnel in the Balochistan chopper crash.
Read more: Pakistani TV station taken off air due to criticism of government