Pakistan: Ex-PM’s aide, TV station staff face sedition charges

The government has accused former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide Shahbaz Gill of mutiny in the military over comments he aired on ARY TV.

A close aide of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan will face charges of treason, accused of mutiny in the army, the interior minister has said.

The allegations were related to comments made by Khan adviser Shahbaz Gill and aired on ARY TV on Monday night, which the minister, Rana Sanaullah, said was a planned move to discredit the army.

He said the accused would face sedition charges for inciting mutiny in the army. “We have set up a special team to investigate it,” he told reporters in Islamabad on Wednesday, adding, “It was a planned move to discredit our institutions.”

According to the relevant police report, ARY owner Salman Iqbal, company vice-chairman Ammad Yousaf and three other station employees have been charged with “sedition”, “encouraging sedition” and “conspiracy”, AFP news agency reported.

The arrests came late Tuesday and early Wednesday, a day after the state-run media regulator ordered ARY News to shut down for broadcasting “false, hateful and seditious” content.

‘abduction’

Khan said Gill was ill-treated during his “abduction” and demanded a fair trial, adding that the charges were a conspiracy to pit his party against the military.

“If he has done something wrong, something illegal, charge him and give him a chance to defend himself in court,” he said in a recorded video statement broadcast by local TV channels.

He also wrote in a tweet: “This is a kidnapping, not an arrest. Can such shameful acts happen in any democracy? Political activists are considered enemies. And all made us accept a foreign-backed government of (a) crooks.

Gill had said in a TV program that there was an attempt to create hatred against Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice, PTI) among the middle and lower ranks of the army, whom he loved.

He suggested that the lower ranks were being pressured by the superiors and that these orders were against the will of the majority and that the lower ranks should reconsider the orders which were against their principles.

Salman Iqbal tweeted that these comments are Gill’s personal opinion and have nothing to do with his media house.

Both Khan’s party and the media house were considered pro-military until the opposition alliance ousted him in a trust vote in April.

ARY has been a long-time supporter of Khan. The former prime minister has been criticizing the military since losing his seat.

Pakistan has been ruled by the military for about half of its 74-year history, and criticism of the country’s powerful security establishment is seen as a red line.



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