Sunday, December 10, 2023

Pak court criticises Imran Khan over anti-Army remarks

The Islamabad High Court on Monday censured former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan over his anti-Army speeches, observing that everything cannot be put at risk for the ongoing “game of thrones” in the country.
The court also warned that it would not be possible to uphold Khan’s right to speech under the Constitution over his remarks.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court passed the remarks while disposing of a petition challenging the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) orders to ban the live telecast of the speeches.of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Justice Minallah was irked by the remarks of Khan at a public rally on Sunday which were already rebuked by the government. The Army also regretted the remarks, saying it was “aghast” by them.
Addressing a public rally in Faisalabad on Sunday, Khan said that the government was delaying elections to appoint its choice of Army chief. “(Asif Ali) Zardari and Nawaz (Sharif) want to bring their favourite as the next Army chief because they have stolen public money,” he said. “They are afraid that when the patriotic army chief comes, he will ask them about their loot,” Khan said.
Dawn reported that at one point during the hearing, referring to Khan’s statements at the Faisalabad rally, the IHC Chief Justice asked: “How can you say in public whether an army chief is a patriot or not?”
Justice Minallah said that the armed forces personnel were getting martyred “and you (Imran Khan) are bringing their morale down”.
He also asked the PTI counsel as to why [his party] was harming constitutional institutions. “You will only invite difficulties as a result of your statements,” he said.
The recent statement, the judge pointed out, did not even fall under Article 19 (freedom of speech) of the Constitution. “How could you avoid a ban when such statements are given,” he noted. “Do we put everything at stake for the game of thrones?” he asked and added that the court should not be expected to provide any relief because of the things that were going on.
Meanwhile, the court also observed that PEMRA had “exceeded its authority” and suspended the ban on the live telecast of Khan’s speeches which was imposed after he used threatening words against a female judge and police at a rally on August 20.
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to retire in the last week of November after holding the top post for six years.
The appointment of the Army chief is the sole prerogative of the prime minister and it is perhaps the only time that his verdict is accepted by the powerful Army without any ifs and buts.
Khan has been making anti-Army statements since his ouster.



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