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- Saturday, November 24, 2012 - From Print Edition


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra)’s Content Regulations 2012, notified by the government last month, do not contain any mention of Islam, the Islamic values, the Ideology of Pakistan and even the integrity of the institution of defence and armed forces.


These regulations that would be directly related to the content, including programmes and advertisements, produced by the private television channels, do not have any provision to safeguard any attack on Islam, Islamic values, the Ideology of Pakistan and even the institution of defence and armed forces.


Pemra acting Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar, when approached, said that this is not possible that the things like Ideology of Pakistan, Islam and Islamic values, the institution of armed forces etc are not mentioned in these Regulations, which he said were prepared and finalised by Pemra following months-long consultations with all the stakeholders.


However, reading of the Pemra Content Regulations 2012 as is available on the Authority’s website proves Dr Jabbar wrong.There are safeguards provided for “Religious and ethnic harmony” as well as “the ethical and social values” but Islam, the Islamic values and even the Ideology of Pakistan do not find any place in these regulations.


The Constitution of Pakistan, Pemra Act and even the Pemra Rules framed by the Parliament and the government contained clear protection for the “glory of Islam”, “Islamic values”, the “Ideology of Pakistan” and the institution of defence and armed forces.


However, none of them have been reflected in the Pemra Content Regulations 2012 made by the Pemra itself but in disregard to parameters set by the Parliament and the government.It needs to be clarified here that the Constitution and law are made by the Parliament while the rules of Pemra are made with the approval of the government/ prime minister. Regulations are, however, made by the authority like Pemra itself, which should be in line with the Constitution, law and rules.


In the Constitution and Pemra Law, the Pemra Rules 2009, as approved by the PM/ government, no programme shall be aired which contains material which is against the Ideology of Pakistan or Islamic values; contains aspersions against the judiciary and integrity of the Armed Forces of Pakistan; glorifies non-Islamic values, or contains material which is repugnant to Ideology of Pakistan or Islamic values. None of these could get any reflection in the Content Regulations of 2012.


Although the Pemra Content Regulations 2012 safeguard any content falling in the category of contempt of court, the provision of “aspersions against the judiciary and integrity of Armed Forces of Pakistan” as provided in Pemra Rules 2009 have been reflected as “aspersions against or ridicules organs of the State” in the Regulations 2012.


According to the Pemra Content Regulations, the licensee shall ensure that no content is aired that: (a) brings into contempt Pakistan or its people or tends to undermine its integrity or solidarity as an independent and sovereign country; (b) undermines public security or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national or anti-state attitudes; (c) contains propagandist and ideological messages on behalf of any foreign country, group or organisation; (d) contains extremist or anarchic messages, including the incitement of violence for political ends or other purposes; or (e) contains aspersions against or ridicules organs of the State.


These Regulations also protect the social and ethical values but without any mention of Islam, Islamic values and the Ideology of Pakistan.


Pemra acting Chairman Dr Jabbar did not believe that there are such fundamentals missing in the Pemra Content Regulations 2012, insisted that all such things are included in the Regulations. “I don’t believe this,” he insisted when told about this fact.


He said that it was the initiative of Pemra to frame these Regulations to regulate the content of the private television channels. He said Pemra started its work on the subject in February this year and consulted all the stakeholders, including media persons.He said that the Regulations have been approved by the authority, which has the power to do so, and finally notified the same last month.