Yousaf Ali Khan, a British-Pakistani activist is being held in Pakistan on charges of sedition and “conspiring to wage war” against the state.
He is accused of making incendiary remarks advocating violence in a speech in London broadcast on social media.
Khan has lived in the UK for some 20 years, and was visiting Pakistan for a family funeral when he was detained. He was arrested on Saturday night, when a large number of heavily armed police surrounded the family’s home in Swabi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
He is president of the UK chapter of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which campaigns for accountability for alleged human rights abuses committed by the Pakistani army whilst fighting against Islamist militants on the border with Afghanistan.
According to legal documents, Khan is accused of promoting “hatred” and “violence”.
At one point in a speech made in north London in December 2019, Khan appears to suggest whenever a bomb blast occurs in a Pashtun-dominated area either in Pakistan or neighbouring Afghanistan, it should be reciprocated with an explosion in Lahore.
Some members of PTM distanced themselves from Khan’s comments, whilst others suggested they were not intended to be taken literally. His lawyer has dismissed the charges as unfounded.
Khan’s trial will be conducted by an anti-terrorism court in the northern city of Mardan. The UK’s Foreign Office has said that it is in contact with local authorities about the arrest of a British man in Pakistan.