Pakistan on Monday banned media coverage of militant groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa as part of a crackdown on terror, acknowledging for the first time that the Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led outfit was a wing of the LeT.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a notification banning all satellite TV channels and FM radio from coverage of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) under UN restriction.
“The Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation are the other wings of Lashkar-e-Taiba,” the PEMRA notification said.
This is for the first time a Pakistan government department has admitted that JuD and FIF are “other wings of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)”.
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According to the PEMRA notification, 60 proscribed organisations and 12 others have been placed under a watch list.
The notification said the action has been taken against these organisations as part of the National Action Plan.
“The Pakistani satellite TV channels and FM radios should strictly follow the direction and in case of breach of code of conduct fine may be imposed or license be revoked,” the PEMRA warned.
The authority has also banned electronic media from running any advertisement of these three organisations for collection of funds “in the name of social work”.
Meanwhile, some local channels quoting PEMRA officials said the interior ministry had not directed them to ban these three outfits.
It was not clear whether the move of banning coverage was linked to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s assurance to US President Barack Obama last month to take “effective action” against UN-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including LeT and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.
The National Action Plan was devised in January this year in the wake of the Peshawar Army Public School massacre in which over 150 people, mostly school children, were killed.
In the aftermath of the attack, the government and military had decided to carry out operations in the tribal areas and take action against all terror organisations and their facilitators across the country.
The UN declared JuD a terror organisation and also individually designated Saeed as a terrorist in December 2008. The US has already put $10 million bounty on Saeed’s head.
Saeed, who orchestrated the November, 2008, Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed, roams around freely in Pakistan despite being a designated terrorist and has made many anti-India remarks and speeches.