'To treat innocents as terrorists': Global lens on Imran's arrest warrant

International news outlets champion former premier's stance, foreshadow further political upheaval


Mariam Javed August 23, 2022

KARACHI:

With the political temperature rising as arrest warrants are out for former prime minister Imran Khan over bringing state institutions into disrepute, international commentary reveals how the world sees the cascading developments in Pakistan.

The way a story is covered is very telling of the regional and journalistic headspace of the particular reporter working on it. A curious case study is the way international organisations are covering the political atmosphere in Pakistan; namely the case of former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest warrant for his comments against the police and judiciary.

After the former premier was alleged to have incited violence against magistrate Zeba Chaudhry during a rally where he claimed that his close aide Shahbaz Gill was being tortured in prison. An arrest warrant under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act was issued against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief on August 21, Followers of the popular leader marched towards his residence in a show of support and raised their voices against his impending incarceration. The allegations of torture being meted out on Shahbaz Gill coupled with the closure of a popular television channel that had hosted Gill and the imminent arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan piqued the interest of many international news organisations and human rights institutions.

Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres penned that " it is essential that all countries, faith leaders and other influential figures condemn all incitement to hatred & violence based on religion or belief, " as political instability in Pakistan has continued to surmount.

In reference to popular leader Imran Khan's arrest warrant, the International Human Rights Foundation called for the immediate release of 'arbitrarily arrested citizens '
 

Amidst all of this political fervour it is interesting to see the takes of foreign journalists and news outlets. Right wing American news outlet , Fox News focued on Khan's terrorism charges in their article covering the politcal chaos ensuing in Pakistan. Starting off their article by writing that ' Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been charged with terroristic threats amid the former politician's quest to regain political power.'

The American news station also placed emphasis on the punishment for treason in Pakistan, stating that it 'carries the death penalty.'

The biggest news agency in Britain, BBC News centred their report around PTI supporters and calling the ousted prime minister a ' a vocal critic of the government and the country's establishment .'

The British news outlet highlighted the way PTI supporters marched towards the gates of Bani Gala to protect their leader from being arrested . 'The accusations against him led to dozens of his supporters braving the scorching sun with the aim of keeping watch over him.'

On a similar tangent, Turkish broadcaster, TRT World also wrote about the show of support of the former cricketer turned politician.

A detailed timeline of events was also shared and the caption reiterated the strong show of support for Imran Khan.

' Hundreds of supporters of ex-PM Imran Khan have gathered outside his residence near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad after police filed terrorism charges for comments the former premier made about the judiciary. '

Reputable magazine, TIME concentrated on how government officials were trying to stifle the former cricket captian's criticisms of certain institutions. ' These demonstrations have only grown larger and more vitriolic in recent weeks as the cricketing icon turned his ire on the establishment that aided his political rise before deserting him.'

The conclusionary statement questioned whether efforts to suppress Imran Khan's voice would backfire.

' It’s also not clear how effective such a ban would be. Khan has over 17 million followers on Twitter, which is higher than the ratings of many top nightly news shows in Pakistan.'

The overall insight of various international news organisations seem to champion Imran's stance; while questioning how the political tides may turn in the stormy ocean that is the current state of politics in the country.

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