'Fascist move': Twitter storm after PEMRA bans Imran's live speeches

PTI leaders term the ban 'fascism' while rival party scoffs it off

News Desk August 21, 2022

Twitter remained ablaze on Sunday after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) decided to place a ban on broadcasting live speeches of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on all satellite TV channels.

The ban came after the ousted premier 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 Zeba Chaudhry for approving police request of physical remand despite knowing that Gill was subjected to “torture”.

Read Imran 'faking' Gill's torture to divert public: Rana Sanaullah

PTI senior leader Shireen Mazari termed the ban as another attempt to “silence” Imran Khan and the party. “Instead of course correction, conspirators stubbornly keep upping the repression against” the PTI, she said.

Meanwhile, Fawad Chaudhry engaged in a Twitter spat with journalist Hamid Mir who had termed the Pemra ban as a case of “tit for tat” likening the present ban to the ban that was imposed on rival party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s speeches two years ago.

“Nawaz Sharif is banned because he is a convict,” retorted Fawad, adding that “Imran Khan is being banned for fear of his speech. The ban has only exposed the rulers further and nothing else.”

The PTI also appeared to be using the move by Pemra to muster up further support.

Terming it a “fascist” move, the party called upon supporters to subscribe to its YouTube channel and bypass the ban altogether.

Netizens react to Imran’s ban

Supporters also avidly played the ban down. One Twitter user said that Pemra underestimated the PTI supporters, saying that they “know how to use [the] internet without depending on electronic media”.

“Do it for the sake of your peace,” said another supporter, “but you can’t stop this storm”.

However, others remained more skeptical.

Tracing the origin of the ban to a judgement made by former chief justice Saqib Nisar, activist Reema Omer slammed Pemra for remembering “to arbitrarily enforce (after interpreting it rather broadly) whenever expedient”, noting how the ban was similar to those imposed on Altaf Hussain in 2015 and Nawaz Sharif in 2020.

Government avenged

Meanwhile, ministers and senior PML-N leadership appeared to welcome the decision by the media regulatory authority.

“The judiciary must have now come to know what Sicilian mafia really is,” tweeted Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb.

“By challenging the national institutions and the state writ, they are inciting the people to violence, lawlessness, rebellion and riot,” she added, claiming “Imran Khan wants a civil war in the country.”

Read More Gill’s torturers want to scare us into silence: Imran

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah expressed similar sentiments against the alleged attempts “to challenge the writ of the state by inciting rebellion” and said that Imran “will have to face the law for threatening and hurling abuses at the Magistrate and Police officers”.

“They want to subjugate every institution of this country,” claimed another PML-N leader Khwaja Saad Rafique and called for judicial action for threatening a judge.

Former Senator Farhatullah Babar also reminded the PTI of the apparent contradiction in its policies. Imran Khan “owes a word of gratitude to all those who opposed” his decision to approve five-year jail for criticising state institutions, he said.

Babar also termed the rhetoric against the judge an act of “misogyny” and “dishonor”.

Ruling coalition wants Imran penalised

The coalition parties of the incumbent government on Saturday urged the superior judiciary to take immediate notice of ex-PM Imran Khan's threat to a female magistrate during his speech delivered during a rally of the PTI at F-9 Park.

“Take legal action against Imran Khan and his colleagues for interfering in the affairs of the interior minister and threatening the officers and government staff who are performing their duties according to the law,” according to a joint statement issued yesterday.

Read Also: Imran accused of ‘inciting people’ against state institutions

It added that Imran Khan should be bound by the Constitution and law.

The joint statement strongly condemned the speech delivered by Imran on Saturday night in which a female magistrate was named and threatened, while an attempt was made to intimidate the Islamabad IG and DIG.


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