No Freedom of Speech in Pakistan? Broadcast of Imran Khan’s Speeches Banned by Electronic Media Watchdog
Edited By: Oindrila Mukherjee
Last Updated: March 06, 2023, 00:25 IST
This is not the first time that the PEMRA has banned TV channels from broadcasting ousted PM Imran Khan’s speeches. (Image: Reuters/File)
The former PM was warned against criticising ex-army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Major General Faisal Naseer, who is the DG of counter intelligence at the ISI
Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog on Sunday banned satellite television channels from broadcasting speeches of ousted prime minister Imran Khan for allegedly making provocative statements against state institutions. He was also warned against criticising ex-army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Major General Faisal Naseer, who is the director-general of counter intelligence at the Inter-Services Intelligence.
According to sources at the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), there is a complete ban on Khan’s broadcasts now as he was talking against state institutions. The PEMRA order stated that Khan’s speeches will not be played live or recorded.
In its order, the regulatory body stated that airing “hateful, slanderous, vilifying and unwarranted statements” against the country’s leadership and state institutions is in sheer violation of Article 19 of the Constitution. Khan has made aspersions against the state institutions by levelling baseless allegations of orchestrating a plan to assassinate him.
Sources in the PEMRA said the main reason behind the ban was to stop Khan from criticising the army, election commission, former army chief and the chief election commissioner. A message had also been “conveyed” to Khan not to target institutions and the serving DG-C ISI as well as his sector commanders.
The PEMRA said Khan was making baseless allegations and hate speech against state institutions. Airing of such content was likely to “create hatred among people or was prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order” or was likely to “disturb public peace and tranquillity” or “endanger national security” and it is a “serious violation of Article 19 of the Constitution and Section 27 of PEMRA Ordinance, 2002, as well as the Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015”, it added.
The PEMRA referred to previous directives where all licencees were directed to “refrain from telecasting any content against state institutions”. It was observed that such content was telecast by TV channels without effective utilisation of time-delay mechanism in violation of provisions of PEMRA laws as well as judgments of the apex courts, the regulator added.
The authority also warned TV channels that their licence will be suspended in case of non-compliance. This is not the first time that the PEMRA has banned TV channels from broadcasting Khan’s speeches.
In August last year, the former cricketer-turned-politician while addressing a public gathering in Islamabad threatened to file cases against top police officials, a woman magistrate and the Election Commission of Pakistan over the treatment meted out to his aide Shehbaz Gill, who was then arrested on charges of sedition.
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