A citizen moved a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking directives for the government to ban the broadcast of speeches by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, reported ARY News on Saturday.
Aamir Aziz filed the petition citing the government, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif as respondents. He states in his petition that Nawaz levelled false allegations against state institutions to defame them.
The petitioner submits: “The speeches made by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif can not in any way be termed as fair criticism or within the parameters of the fundamental right of freedom of speech.
The fundamental right of speech guaranteed by the Constitution is not an absolute right but is subject to reasonable restrictions.”
He pleaded with the high court to “issue writ of prohibition against the Respondent No.03 [Nawaz] and others restraining them from maligning, scandalizing, ridiculing, defaming, and disrespecting the state institutions including the judiciary, members of the Judiciary and the judicial system.”
The petitioner further demanded that the government ban the broadcast of any such speech or statement by Nawaz.
Legal experts of the view that the court may direct the authorities to ban Nawaz’s anti-state statements in order to ensure that no disruption in Pakistan takes place. There is a perception that Nawaz, like Altaf Hussain of MQM, now intends to control Pakistan while sitting in London. Policy experts fear that “such a situation is potentially dangerous not only for the PML-N but also for the entire country”.
Pemra bans Nawaz’s speech?
On September 29, Pemra banned the broadcast of speeches, interviews and public addresses by absconders and proclaimed offenders.
The development came a few hours after Nawaz Sharif slammed the government and military establishment in his second address to the PML-N’s central working committee meeting which was aired on numerous news channels in Pakistan.
#Pakistan’s media watchdog has put a ban on the broadcast of proclaimed offenders and absconders, including top opposition leader #NawazSharif. https://t.co/aJgZAeBBz9— Gulf News (@gulf_news) October 2, 2020
“A self-explanatory complaint received from 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 notice, according to Geo News.
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 is playing a dangerous game, PM Imran Khan
On October 1, Prime Minister Imran Khan said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif is playing a “dangerous game” by levelling allegations of political interference against the army and claimed that the former premier has India’s support.
Moreover, analysts also point out that India is involved in destabilizing Pakistan with the help of separatist elements in Pakistan. Politicians should, opine senior analysts, remain careful if their narrative is being influenced by the Indian lobby. G. M Pitafi, a Lahore-based academic, argues that Nawaz’s recent statements are a reminder of the fact that “for politicians what matters is power”.