PTI Chairman Imran Khan (left) and Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah. — Reuters/IHC website

PTI Chairman Imran Khan (left) and Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah. — Reuters/IHC website
  • IHC wraps up Imran Khan’s plea against live speech ban.
  • Court directs PEMRA to regulate Khan’s live speeches.
  • IHC asks whether PTI chairman wants to hurt morale of army.

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday asked whether PTI Chairman Imran Khan wanted to hurt the morale of the armed forces by delivering anti-military speeches.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah’s remarks came during a hearing against the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) order prohibiting television channels from airing Khan’s speeches live.

At the last hearing, the IHC CJ had suspended the order till September 5 and observed that the regulatory authority “does not have the authority” to issue such orders.

Barrister Ali Zafar represented Khan during today’s hearing and a representative of PEMRA was also present to apprise the court of the regulator’s stance.

After hearing the arguments of both sides, the court wrapped up the case.

The PEMRA ban came into place on August 21 after the PTI chairman threatened state institutions and government officials with serious consequences.

PEMRA’s notification said that Khan’s addresses are in open violation of the regulator’s rules and Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

According to the regulator, the ban has been put in place under Section 27 of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002. The PEMRA notification cited Khan’s speech at the F9 Park, Islamabad as the reason behind the ban.

Apart from the ban, Khan is also facing contempt of court proceedings for threatening Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry during the same speech.

Today’s hearing

At today’s hearing, PEMRA’s lawyer apprised the IHC that the regulator issued a show-cause notice to delay the airing of his live speeches. In response, the IHC CJ asked why the regulator did not ensure that the rule of delaying live speeches was followed.

“Several responsible people issue irresponsible statements. You [PEMRA] have to follow the law and the court will not interfere in it,” the IHC chief justice said.

Moving on to Khan’s lawyer, the IHC CJ asked whether he heard the PTI chairman’s speech in Faisalabad a day earlier — where he said that the government is delaying elections to appoint its choice of an army chief.

“Did you hear Imran Khan’s speech from yesterday? Do political leaders deliver such speeches? Will everything be put at stake just for the sake of a ‘Game of Thrones’?” the IHC CJ asked, making a reference to the popular television drama in which nine noble families wage war against each other to gain control over a mythical land.

IHC CJ Minallah said that the armed forces lay their lives for the nation and in a case where someone is involved in illegal activity, everyone should not be criticised over it.

“Hold yourself accountable for your actions. You [Khan] want to issue statements as per your wishes and don’t want the regulator to do its job?”

“Do you want to hurt the morale of the army by giving anti-army statements? Do you think that anyone in the army is not a patriot?” the IHC CJ questioned.

He told Khan’s lawyer that when a statement is issued in public, it has its own impact.

Following this, the IHC, in light of the rulings of the Supreme Court, asked PEMRA to regulate the speeches of Khan and wrapped up the case filed by the PTI chairman.

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