PEMRA‘s ban on Kashif Abbasi’s program Off The Record on ARY News sparked a furor on social media.
PEMRA imposed a 60-day ban on the program and anchorperson, Kashif Abbasi, in the notification issued on Thursday.
PEMRA sanctioned the program after the federal minister, Faisal Vawda caused a predicament flashing a military-style boot at PPP and PML-N’s opponents in a live show to shame them for lending unconditional support for Army Act Amendment Bill, 2020.
What Faisal Vawda did on tv was ridiculous, and the minister is being rightly condemned by many. But what @pemra has done by banning @Kashifabbasiary and his prog for two months is worse. It’s a direct attack on the freedom of press. https://t.co/7BwxkRf8CR
— Zaffar Abbas (@abbasz55) January 16, 2020
The notification charged the news channel and Kashif Abbasi for disreputing the state institution of Pakistan’s armed forces in a live TV show.
It stated that Kashif Abbasi exuded unprofessionalism in a show when he did not intervene to stop the frivolous act of the panelist, Faisal Vawda.
How would have Kashif known that Faisal Wavda would have pulled a boot out of the bag and put it on the table ?
This to me is absolutely unfair.
جس کو پکڑنا ہے اُس کو پکڑتے نہیں اور جو نہیں کرنا وہ کرتی ہے پیمرا
— Mir Mohammad Alikhan (@MirMAKOfficial) January 16, 2020
#PEMRA bans #ARY anchor #Kashifabbasi and show #offtherecord for 60 days for letting #faisalwawda put a boot on table in his show ..Pemra did this without giving any notice or hearing to ARY or Kashif abbasi
— Sami Abraham (@samiabrahim) January 15, 2020
#PEMRA notice implies #boot as a symbol of state institution!
Will the scientist who drafted & sent to PEMRA mention if PPC, CrPC or Constitution or any other law says “Boot” is a symbol of any state institution? Now it’s official – #بوٹ_کو_عزت_دو pic.twitter.com/urDqid9871
— Arshad Sharif (@arsched) January 16, 2020
The media regulatory authority accused Kashif Abbasi that he ‘took the entire incident casually and kept smiling/cherishing such incidences’.
#PEMRA notice to #ARYNews putting @Kashifabbasiary off air for 2 months! Ridiculous. Will the federal minister be banned as well? What abt all the shows where politicians have been humiliated? It's a shame how "selectively" muscles are flexed. Excessive & uncalled for pic.twitter.com/kKtvPM5vqg
— Meher Bokhari (@meherbokhari) January 15, 2020
It also deemed the program a deliberate attempt to debase a state institution that unduly dragged armed forces in political discourse.
Kashif Abbasi has also been barred from appearing as a guest panelist on other shows during the ban.
Social media reaction
Social media rejected the ban and argued that Kashif Abbasi is being unduly punished for an indiscretion of the federal minister. They called it unfair to target Kashif Abbasi only when it was Faisal Vawda who stoked up the controversy and went scot-free.
— Haroon Rashid (@TheHaroonRashid) January 16, 2020
— Wajahat (@KazmiWajahat) January 16, 2020
Many social media users including fellow journalists argued that Kashif Abbasi was unaware that Faisal Vawda would pull out a boot from his bag and slam it on the table.
Faisal Vawda continued with derogatory remarks, that unintentionally maligned even armed forces as well.
The critics asserted that PEMRA, in the notification, has officially declared ‘boot’ the metaphor of the power of military and establishment.
Meanwhile, Kashif Abbasi, offered a justification for the incident at the beginning of his program yesterday. He repudiated the impression that he was equally involved in Faisal Vawda’s antic or even knew about it.
Is #PEMRA officially saying boot 🥾 is a symbol of any state institution? Which state institution? Which state institution “debased” by prop of a boot? Some scientists just know how to make fun of themselves. Why so averse to a boot 🥾?
Official directive – #بوٹ_کو_عزت_دو pic.twitter.com/EvqBGq0UkJ
— Arshad Sharif (@arsched) January 16, 2020
Responding to the criticism, he said he did not know Faisal Vawda would pull out boot from his bag. He said that it all happened in a spur of the moment.
The anchorperson added that he and his team were shocked by the unpredictable act of Faisal Vawda. It took them longer to recollect themselves before taking any action.
Faisal Vawda also appeared on Hamid Mir’s talkshow and claimed full responsibility for the incident. He said neither the news channel nor the anchorperson was involved with him.
Faisal Vawda’s Boot Stunt
On Tuesday, Faisal Vawda, Federal Minister for Water Resources, showed a “Military boot” live on ARY’s program, to shame the opposition parties – Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for unconditionally voting in favor of the Army Act Amendment Bill.
Faisal Vawda was part of the guest panel along with PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira and PML-N’s Javed Abbasi, on the show.
Federal Minister, angered the guests when he placed the boot on top of the table. He warned that from now on he will carry boots to talk shows to shame the opposition parties for their unconditional support for Army Act Amendment Bill.
Federal Minister sneered at the opposition parties for manipulating their support for armed forces according to personal whims.
Hence, boots will remind the nation of the reality of the ‘democratic PMLN’, who ridicule armed forces, spew hate against them, and do not show respect to martyrs but twist their narrative in favor of armed forces for their agendas in time of need.