Pakistan revokes TV permit after opposition official incited troops

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Pakistan revokes TV permit after opposition official incited troops

KARACHI, Pakistan AP -- Pakistani authorities on Friday revoked a broadcast permit for a private television station after it was taken off air after an opposition party official allegedly incited troops and officers against the military leadership.

The development came after ARY TV aired the interview with Shahbaz Gill, a close aide of the former Prime Minister Imran Khan and the chief of staff for his Tehreek-e-Insaf opposition party on Monday.

In the interview, Gill said that Pakistani troops and officers should not obey illegal orders from military remarks that were seen by authorities as an incitement to revolt. He was arrested on treason charges and could face the death penalty.

After the interview, Ammad Yousaf was arrested, but was released on Thursday after an outcry from a media watchdog, rights defenders and top opposition leaders.

ARY is not part of any campaign against the army, as it distanced itself from Gill's remarks. The station was taken off air by Pakistan's media regulatory board on Friday and suspended its license due to adverse reports from agencies. The move caused a lot of condemnation from journalists and opposition leaders. The suspension was denounced by ARY's founder, Salman Iqbal.

Asad Kaleem, an executive producer at ARY, told The Associated Press that 4,000 employees at the TV are now without work. He pleaded with the government to reverse its decision and bring back the hugely popular ARY on air.

In 2018, Khan came to power, promising to break the pattern of family rule in Pakistan, but his opponents said he was elected with help from the powerful military, which has ruled the country for half of its 75-year history.

After his ouster in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April, Khan blamed army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who claimed that the general took part in an alleged U.S. plot to oust him. Washington, the Pakistani military and the government have denied the charge.