By RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal
August 22, 2022
Pakistani police have filed terrorism charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, authorities said August 22, a move that is likely to further escalate political tensions in the country.
The terrorism charges follow a speech made by Khan in Islamabad, during which he vowed to sue police officers as well as a judge, and alleged that a close aide had been tortured after his arrest.
Khan’s opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf party published online videos showing supporters surrounding the ex-prime minister’s home to potentially stop police from arresting him. Hundreds remained there early on August 22.
Khan’s political aide, Shahbaz Gill, was arrested and charged with treason earlier this month after he urged soldiers and officers to refuse to obey “illegal orders” from the military leadership. Treason under Pakistani law carries the death penalty.
Khan, who came to power in 2018, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April as the opposition accused him of economic mismanagement amid soaring inflation and economic woes.
On August 21, Khan accused the government of temporarily blocking YouTube to deny live access to his speech at a political rally.
Khan has been delivering speeches to gatherings across the country as he pushes for new elections.
“The fascist-imported government blocked YouTube midway through my speech,” Khan said on Twitter.
On August 20, authorities prohibited live broadcasts of Khan’s speeches by news channels with immediate effect, but made an exception for recorded speech.
Khan’s speeches were “prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and likely to disturb public peace and tranquility”, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said in a statement on August 20.
With reporting by Reuters and AP