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Pakistan

Web Desk
October 1, 2020

PEMRA bans broadcast of proclaimed offenders, absconders' speeches and interviews

Pakistan

Web Desk
Thu, Oct 01, 2020
The interior of a news channel in Pakistan. — The News/Files

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Thursday banned speeches of proclaimed offenders and absconders shortly after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's speech was run on TV channels.

"A self-explanatory complaint received from Mr. Muhammad Azhar Siddique against the several news channels in particular who aired the interview/speech/ public addresses of an absconder or a proclaimed offender," read PEMRA's notice.

PEMRA said that it was found upon investigating the complaint that news channels were violating the earlier directive of the Authority which had been issued on May 27, 2019 on proclaimed offenders.

The notification reminded news channels that they were bound to comply with PEMRA laws as well as parameters laid down in PLD 2019 Supreme Coun 1 and PLD 2016 Karachi 238. A copy of the provisions of the ordinance was attached with the notification:

"Clause 4(10) of the Code of Conduct is very important because by discussing and reviewing the contents of a programme prior to the time it is aired or recorded, the licensee can ensure that the contents of such programme conform to the Code of Conduct. Therefore, licensees can make certain that programmes on sub judice matters are aired in an informative manner and are handled objectively [Clause 4(3)absconders."

Nawaz says cannot stay silent anymore

Earlier today, Nawaz had called out the government for what he termed its "dual standards of accountability", saying that he can "no longer remain quiet" on the matter.

"Nawaz Sharif is not made of the kind of stuff that can stand remaining quiet on dual standards of accountability," he said via video link, adding that "no one should try to silence him".

He said that although Prime Minister Imran Khan "is to blame" for the country's current state, "it is those who brought him into power who are truly responsible".

"They will have to answer," Nawaz said.

As he began his address, he spoke of how it had been a long time since such an address had taken place. "I am addressing you all after a long time. And in these two-and-a-half years we have all endured much."

"But it is with God's grace we are seeing each other now," Nawaz had said.

"When I look at the state the country is in, it saddens me deeply," the former prime minister had stated. "We were on such a great path to progress and look at where we are now."

Nawaz said he sees a world of a difference between the Pakistan of a few years ago and the one before us now. "I do not understand why this has happened."

"We were so prosperous until 2018. Our tenure lasted 2013-2018 and with your prayers and God's mercy and your support from 2013-2017, I was prime minister," he had said.

"Me and my team who are sitting here and also those not here, such as Shahbaz Sharif who is in jail, paying for crimes not committed — together, we were changing the fate of Pakistan."

"These are not empty words, you yourself have witnessed the fruits of our efforts," Nawaz said.

PM Imran had allowed Nawaz Sharif's speech

Earlier, it was revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had allowed for the PML-N supremo's first speech since he went into exile in London, to be aired on TV channels last month.

Sources told Geo News that PM Imran had rejected the suggestion from his aides to write a letter to PEMRA in order to block the transmission of Nawaz's speech on media.

It is pertinent to mention here that a day prior to this development, government had said that it would use the PEMRA and other laws to take action if the former prime minister's address to the APC was broadcast.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication, Dr Shahbaz Gill, had said that it was not possible that an "absconding criminal" takes part in political activities and gives speeches.

"The Sharif family can tell nothing but lies. They are such [habitual] liers that they even lied about a disease," he had said.

IHC issues non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz 

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) last month issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz during a hearing over the former prime minister's petition requesting exemption from court appearance.

In a brief ruling, IHC's Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had remarked that the PML-N supremo neither underwent a surgery despite citing it as a reason behind obtaining bail to travel to the United Kingdom nor was he admitted to a hospital.

"Our bail order has expired, which has its own effects," the judge had said during a hearing at the IHC over a petition to cancel Nawaz's bail in the Avenfield properties reference.

The non-bailable arrest warrants were issued in order to ensure the PML-N leader's appearance at an upcoming hearing on September 22.

'No one is absconding'

During the hearing, the court had asked how was it supposed to hear the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) appeal. "Do we announce a ruling on this without hearing the other side," the court had remarked.

To which, NAB Additional Prosecutor General Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana had said the court could appoint a legal counsel to represent Nawaz.

"Then this principle will also apply to the appeals filed by Nawaz Sharif," the court shot back at Bharwana, who said the PML-N supremo was absconding, not him, and that he was present before the judge.

"I'm sorry but no one is absconding in front of the court right now," Nawaz's Sharif's defence counsel Khawaja Haris had responded to the NAB prosecutor-general.