ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has warned the government against using the cybercrime law against political opponents, saying that his party would resist the ruling political party’s attempts to establish their dictatorship in the country.

In a statement issued by the PTI’s central media department here on Tuesday, the PTI chief alleged that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government was trying to intimidate its political opponents using the cybercrime law.

The statement comes a day after an announcement by Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb and MNA Daniyal Aziz, who said that the government had decided to take action against Mr Khan under cybercrime and defamation laws “for trying to influence the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Panama Papers case and besmirch the reputation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif through electronic, print and social media”.

They alleged that Mr Khan had tried to damage the prime minister’s reputation through his speeches and on social media by levelling false allegations against him. They added that the government had a right to proceed against the PTI chief under the country’s cybercrime and defamation laws.

Ms Aurangzeb insisted that this should not be considered political victimisation. A case was being prepared against PTI leaders, she said, adding that the PTI had no grounds to object if the government was taking action against Mr Khan.

Reacting to the announcement, Mr Khan recalled that the government had used antiterrorism laws to implicate PTI leaders and workers in false cases during their sit-in against election rigging in 2013.

“The PML-N had misused this (anti-terrorism) act against the PTI in the anti-rigging sit-in, [by adding] terrorism charges to the FIRs against PTI workers and leaders,” Mr Khan said.

He alleged that the government was “trying to threaten him with the cybercrime law”. He vowed that the PTI would not be deterred by such threats, adding that his party would oppose all efforts to undermine democracy and would sabotage attempts intended to establish “Sharif’s Badshahat (kingdom) and dictatorship” in the country.

Mr Khan declared that the PTI would stand by free media, vibrant society and for the assertion of all fundamental constitutional rights of the people of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2017