A Pakistani court today ordered police to register a case against Geo TV, actress Veena Malik, her husband Asad Khatak and others over a programme that allegedly contained blasphemous content.
District and sessions judge of Okara in Punjab province ordered that a case be registered against Geo media group owner Mir Shakilur Rehman, anchor Shaistan Lodhi, Malik, Khatak and others.
The court issued the order on a complaint that Lodhi in her programme ‘Utho Jago Pakistan’ on Geo entertainment last Wednesday had allegedly insulted the family members of Prophet Muhammad. Malik and her husband were guests on the programme.
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Geo group has since suspended Lodhi’s programme.
Lodhi has apologised to her viewers for hurting their sentiments after the programme drew bitter reaction from them.
As scores of applications have been filed in various Pakistani courts seeking the accused be tried under blasphemy laws, another court in Gujranwala district summoned them on May 29, after admitting a petition in this regard.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has already served a show-cause notice on Geo Entertainment network for airing objectionable content in the programme and sought immediate explanation from the channel.
According to PEMRA, the show-cause notice was served as the channel had violated clauses (a), (i) & (p) of the Code of Conduct for TV networks contained in Schedule A of PEMRA Rules 2009.
Clause ‘P’ says no programme can be aired that contains material which is against the ideology of Pakistan or Islamic values.
PEMRA said it has received over 5,000 public complaints at at its call centre and website against the programme.
Religious parties including Jammat-ud-Dawah held demonstrations in various parts of the country yesterday and today and demanded that the accused be tried under the
Meanwhile, both Lodhi and Veena have gone ‘underground’ fearing backlash from extremists.
Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Islamic Pakistan and insulting the Prophet Mohammed can lead to death penalty.
The strict blasphemy laws have been criticised by rights groups, who say they are frequently misused to settle personal scores.