Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday criticised the ruling-government after the arrest of one of his senators, saying that the country was not just descending into a “banana republic, but a fascist state”.
Taking to twitter, Khan said: “I am shocked and appalled at how rapidly we are descending into not just a banana republic but a fascist state. How can anyone not understand the pain and suffering Senator Swati underwent with custodial torture and blackmailing video of him & his conservative wife sent to his family?”
Pakistan authorities on Sunday arrested Senator of Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party Azam Swati for allegedly using abusive and threatening language against senior military officials. Swati was taken into custody by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for the second time in less than two months for tweets against army leaders. He was previously arrested by the FIA in October.
Khan also said, “His (Swati’s) justifiable anger and frustration at the injustice meted out to him especially the doors of SC remaining closed to him despite over a fortnight of appeals by Senators in support of him. So he tweets and is arrested again. Everyone must raise their voice against this state fascism.”
A first information (FIR) report was registered under Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (Peca) by the FIA on the complaint of the state through Islamabad Cyber Crime Reporting Centre (CCRC) Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman.
The FIR stated that Swati and three other Twitter accounts — @Wolf1Ak, @HaqeeqatTV_20 and @Azaadi99 — “with malafide intentions and ulterior motives, started [a] highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets […] against state institutions” and senior government functionaries, including outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Earlier on Saturday, Pakistan’s former PM said his party was quitting the country’s regional and national assemblies, as he made his first public appearance since being wounded in a gun attack earlier this month.
Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April. He is now in the opposition and has been demanding early elections, claiming his ouster was illegal and orchestrated by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, with the U.S. government’s help. Sharif and Washington have dismissed the allegations and the current government says the next polls will be held as scheduled in 2023.
(With inputs from PTI)