KARACHI, Aug 22 — Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan accused the government of temporarily blocking YouTube in the country on Sunday evening to prevent people from listening live to a speech he gave at a political rally.
The accusation came after Pakistan’s electronic media regulator late on Saturday announced a ban on the live airing of Khan’s speeches because of what it called his “hate speech” against state institutions.
“Imported govt blocked YouTube midway through my speech,” Khan said on Twitter.
A spokesman for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, which regulates the internet in the country, did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.
Khan has been pushing for new elections in Pakistan after being ousted from power in April through a parliamentary vote. He has been delivering fiery speeches at gatherings across the country.
“Mr. Imran Khan... in his speeches/statements is continuously ... leveling baseless allegations and spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions,” the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) said in its statement on Saturday.
Pemra said it was, with immediate effect, prohibiting news channels from broadcasting his speeches live, but said recorded speeches could be aired.
Khan’s speeches were “prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and likely to disturb public peace and tranquility”, Pemra added.
Khan has targeted a number of state institutions, including the government, the police and the country’s powerful army.
Khan’s party had said shortly after Saturday’s television ban it would go live on “500+ YouTube and Facebook channels”.
However, many social media users around Pakistan reported problems in accessing YouTube when Khan was about to address a gathering on Sunday evening in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Khan said in his speech on Sunday that he was being censored for not accepting the current coalition government which had voted him out of power.
The television ban came a day after Khan hurled threats against Islamabad’s police chief and a female judge for what he claimed was the arrest and alleged torture of his close aide who is facing sedition charges.
His aide had called on lower and middle ranks of the military to defy orders from the top brass.
On Sunday Islamabad police booked Khan for threatening police officials and a judicial magistrate under sections of the anti-terrorism act. — Reuters