Updated Aug 22, 2022 - World

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan charged under antiterrorism act

Pakistan's former Prime MinisterImran Khan,  during a rally celebrate the 75th anniversary of Pakistan's independence day in Lahore on August 13.
Imran Khan, Pakistan's former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, speaks during a rally celebrating the 75th anniversary of Pakistan's independence day in Lahore on Aug. 13. Photo: Arif Ali/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan was charged under the country's antiterrorism act Sunday for allegedly threatening senior police and a judge in a speech, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: The charge is a significant escalation in the struggle for power between the former cricket great and the current government following Khan's April ouster from power in a no-confidence vote, and there are concerns the action may spark fresh unrest in Pakistan, the New York Times notes.

  • Khan's party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, has vowed to hold nationwide protests if he's arrested. The opposition party shared video online of protesters rallying outside Khan's home throughout the night and into Monday morning.

Driving the news: The charges relate to a Saturday night speech Khan delivered in the capital, Islamabad, in which he criticized the treatment of his aide Shahbaz Gill by officials following his arrest last week on sedition charges, NDTV reports.

  • Officials told the New York Times that Khan had yet to be arrested.

What they're saying: "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," police said in the charge report, according to the Washington Post.

The other side: Khan accused the government of banning live coverage of his speeches on TV and blocking the footage on YouTube.

  • "This is not only a gross violation of freedom of speech but also negatively affects the digital media industry and the livelihoods of many," he tweeted.

The big picture: Khan took office in 2018 after running as an anti-establishment politician who pledged to clear up corruption in politics, but opposition parties claimed this never happened under his leadership.

  • The Tehreek-e-Insaf party leader saw several defections in the weeks before his ouster and a key ally quit the coalition, costing him the majority in Parliament.

Editor's note: This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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