Pakistan’s media regulator has decided to ban media broadcasts of speeches by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, officials said Monday.
This came in conjunction with the arrival of police officers to one of Khan’s homes to hand him an arrest warrant.
This development is the latest in a tug-of-war between the former cricket star and the government of his successor, Shahbaz Sharif, as Khan demands and presses for early elections.
The media regulator imposed the ban on Sunday, and it took effect on Monday.
The resolution included all the recorded and live speeches of Khan, who was ousted in a vote of no confidence in parliament last April.
The ban came in the wake of a fiery speech by Khan, who has a large popular base, in which he criticized Sharif’s government and the army.
Khan’s party, the National Movement for Justice in Pakistan (Tahreek-e-Insaf), denounced the ban.
“This action shows the government’s concern and fear that Khan’s party will win the upcoming elections in two local councils,” Fawad Chaudhry, a senior party leader, told The Associated Press.
Khan’s supporters gathered in front of the court last February in support of the former prime minister
For its part, the commission said it imposed the ban because of what it described as “Khan’s baseless allegations” against the authorities and state institutions, referring to the army.
“Khan spreads hatred against state institutions, which is detrimental to the maintenance of law and order,” she added. It stated that any violation of the ban by any TV channel or newspaper will lead to the revocation of its license.
This came, hours after the police arrived at Khan’s home in Lahore to hand him an arrest warrant on suspicion of avoiding court appearances on charges of receiving gifts during his tenure and concealing assets.
But Khan’s aides told the police that he was at his other home in the capital, Islamabad. After the officers left, Khan appeared in front of the house and spoke about the decision to ban coverage of his speeches.
He spoke in front of the cameras, accusing an army general – who did not mention his name – of leading a campaign of arrests against the leaders of his party in the past months.