Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, was charged Sunday under the country's antiterrorism laws over a speech he gave a day earlier. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan who was ousted from power in April, was charged Sunday under the country's antiterrorism act amid a political fight for the country's helm.
The charge report says Khan threatened officials during a speech he gave a day earlier in which he chastised top police officials and a judge over the arrest of his chief of staff, Shahbaz Gill, The Washington Post reported.
"The way Imran Khan made his speech and the threats he made led to fear and terror among the police, judiciary and the common people and it harmed the peace of country," the charge report states.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah tweeted that Kahn "will have to face the law for threatening and hurling abuses at the Magistrate and Police officers."
"Such acts of brazen thuggery are responsible for instigating extremism in society," he said, before addressing Khan directly: "You ... are not allowed to challenge the writ of the state by inciting rebellion."
As of early Monday, Khan has yet to be arrested.
Senior members of Khan's political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, have tweeted images and videos of crowds outside Khan's Bani Gala residence in a show of support for their embattled leader.
"Whole nations stand behind Chairman PTI [Khan] against the imported government," the party's official account tweeted Sunday.
Murad Saeed, a senior PTI official and a close associate of Khan, confirmed Sunday that an arrest order has been issued for Khan while calling on citizens to protest.
"Get out for the sake of Pakistan!" he tweeted.
The charges brought against Khan come months after he was removed from power in a no-confidence vote in early April.
Since being ousted, the former cricket star has continued to give mass rallies for his party, which has made significant gains in recent elections.
However, PTI officials have said that in response to the political wins the Pakistani government banned some pro-Khan media outlets and targeted members of Khan's inner circle with arrests.
"Record defeat of the imported government coalition. That's why they are running away from the elections. When channels were banned for showing Imran Khan's speech, people went to YouTube, when YouTube was closed, people came out on the streets," Saeed tweeted Sunday. "The independent nation has decided."
Gill was arrested earlier this month on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions for comments he made on ARY News alleging the government was trying to influence rank and file military personnel to turn against PTI, local news organization Dawn reported.
In announcing Gill's arrest, Sanaullah tweeted that Gill during his TV appearance had read from a script prepared for him under Khan's supervision in order to "create rifts between ranks of the state institution."
His arrest sparked criticism from PTI and allegations, including from Khan, that Gill had been tortured and sexually abused under police custody, charges government officials and authorities deny.
During Khan's speech Saturday, the former prime minister threatened to bring lawsuits against those responsible for Gill's arrest, including police, stating they will pay for torturing him.
In response, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority issued a four-page statement banning TV channels from broadcasting Khan's speeches live, stating they could be aired with a delay once ensuring they are in compliance with the law.
In the statement, PERMA said that Khan has repeatedly leveled "baseless allegations" against state institutions and spread "hate speech through his provocative statements" in defiance of the law.
Following Khan's speech, Islamabad Capital Territory Police issued a statement of rebuke on Sunday, stating "anyone making threats or allegations will be dealt with."
"We have taken an oath to serve the nation at all times. All officers and men are rendering their services with full responsibility and will continue to render them."
Early Monday, police announced the arrest of popular YouTuber Jameel Farooqui in Karachi for making a video accusing police of physically and sexually assaulting Gill.
"Islamabad Capital Police had indicated action against those making inflammatory, fabricated and false allegations," it said.