ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog has banned satellite television channels from broadcasting live speeches of ousted prime minister Imran Khan, hours after he threatened state institutions and made provocative statements while addressing a rally here.
Khan, while addressing a public gathering here on Saturday, threatened to file cases against top police officials, a woman magistrate, the Election Commission of Pakistan and political opponents over the treatment meted out to his aide Shahbaz Gill, who was arrested last week on charges of sedition.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in a communique issued on Saturday said that television channels despite repeated warnings had failed to implement a time-delay mechanism to stop the broadcast of material against ‘state institutions’.
“It has been observed that Imran Khan, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, in his speeches/statements is continuously alleging state institutions by levelling baseless allegations and spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officers. which is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility,” it said.
The regulator said Khan’s speeches were in violation of Article 19 of the Constitution and against the code of conduct for the media.
“The competent authority i.e. Chairman PEMRA in view of the above-mentioned background and reasons, in exercise of delegated powers of the authority vested in Section 27(a) of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002 as amended by PEMRA (Amendment) Act 2007, hereby prohibits broadcast of live speech of Imran Khan on all satellite TV channels with immediate effect,” it added.
PEMRA, however, said Khan’s recorded speech would only be permitted to be aired after an effective delay mechanism to ensure monitoring and editorial control. Reacting sharply to the ban imposed on the PTI chairman, the party said the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has a fascist regime.
“Imported fascists are trying to ban Imran Khan’s speeches on TV. They have lost the battle completely and now using fascism; they will fail! #HelpPakistan by raising our voices against fascists!,” Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said in a tweet.
Saturday’s rally was organised by PTI to express solidarity with Gill and stage a protest against what Khan claimed was ‘blatant fascism’ prevalent under the ‘imported regime’ of prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.
During the rally, Khan didn’t spare Pakistan’s Army, calling it ‘neutrals’, and urged his supporters to stand with the nation rather than the ‘gang of thieves’, in a veiled reference to the coalition government.
The 69-year-old also lashed out at the judiciary, terming them as ‘biased’. While the Pakistan Army has not responded to Khan’s barb, political parties such as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Peoples Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl and Mutahida Quami Movement Pakistan have asked the judiciary to take legal action against Khan and his aides for threatening a female judge and intimidating police officers.
Meanwhile, Khan has said that he will address a rally at Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh ground later on Sunday. Since he was ousted from power in April, Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician has repeatedly claimed that the no-trust motion against him was the result of a ‘foreign conspiracy’.
Khan has also emphasised that his party would not deal with or accept the ‘imported government’ headed by prime minister Sharif.