The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to regulate Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s speeches according to the apex court’s earlier ruling.
The IHC was hearing a case against Imran’s petition challenging a PEMRA notification banning live telecast of the former premier’s speeches that was suspended by the court on August 29.
IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah, while hearing the plea challenging the ban, expressed displeasure over Imran’s statements, particularly the ones pertaining to the armed forces. “Do you want to destroy their morale?” questioned the CJ.
Justice Minallah while addressing Imran’s counsel said that “you say that someone should be allowed to freely speak when they say that a person is a patriot and [another] person is not”.
“Can anyone say that a general of the armed forces is not a patriot?” he questioned before adding “did you hear Imran Khan’s statements yesterday? The armed forces were rescuing the people while those statements were made. Can anyone justify those statements?”
Deploring the PTI chief’s comments as “irresponsible” CJ Minallah said that “do you want the to court to give them a free license?”
“Remember that when you give a statement, the impact is greater,” the judge furthered.
Addressing a public rally at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad yesterday (Sunday), the former prime minister alleged that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari wanted to appoint the army chief of their choice because if a “strong and patriotic army chief” came, they would be questioned about their loot.
During the proceedings, the judge also questioned if the PTI lawyers were “suggesting that the Constitution should be violated”.
“You are well-aware that the impact of accusations by a political leader that has a large following is also greater,” he continued, “if they make such unconstitutional remarks and incite anger then that is not protected by [right to] freedom of speech,” said the judge.
“Can it be justified,” the judge asked, “if someone makes such irresponsible comments?”
“Can the loyalty of an army general to his country be questioned? You want to make such statements and then wish that PEMRA does not even control it?” he continued.
CJ Minallah remarked that Imran “should first decide what he wants” and that he should not “expect that courts will give any relief after doing all this”. “You should also hold yourself accountable,” the court said referring to the PTI chief.
“Is this what political leadership is supposed to be,” the court remarked, “that everything is put at stake for a game of thrones?”
“The armed forces sacrifice their lives for us,” the court stated.
The IHC further stated that “every citizen is a patriot and no one has the right to issue a certificate of loyalty or the lack thereof. And how can such a thing be said about the armed forces who are sacrificing their lives?”
The judge, again referring to Imran, warned that “with such statements, you will create problems for yourself”.
“Are all generals not patriots?” questioned the court, “what message are you trying to convey to our enemies?”.
It is pertinent to note that the media regulatory authority had imposed a ban on the live broadcasting of speeches by the PTI chairman on all satellite TV channels with immediate effect on August 20.
While addressing a protest rally in Islamabad, Imran had warned the IG and DIG of Islamabad police, saying that he will not spare them and register a case against them for “torturing” party leader Shahbaz Gill during physical remand.
He had also called out Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zeba Chaudhry for approving the police request for physical remand despite knowing that Gill was subjected to “torture”. “We will not leave you [Zeba] and will also file a case against her.”
Soon after Imran’s speech, the coalition parties demanded action against the former premier. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had also vowed to take legal action against Imran for “threatening” the woman judge and police officials.
In relation to the allegations against the PTI leader, a contempt of court case is being heard at the IHC while a case against terrorism charges is also being pursued at an Anti-Terrorism Court in Islamabad.