Amid a war of words between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the government here has apparently ‘relaxed’ the media regulatory authorities’ ban on Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, allowing him to appear on private TV channels to advocate the cause of Kashmir. Since the violence erupted in Kashmir, Saeed is back on private TV channels, advocating for the Kashmiris and bashing the Narendra Modi government for its role in the killing of ‘innocent’ Kashmiris. He has appeared on a couple of news channels talk shows mostly Neo TV during the last one week or so.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in November last year had restrained all Pakistani television channels from “all kinds of coverage of the JuD, its front Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and about 60 other proscribed organisations and their leaders”. The FIF is also
getting electronic media coverage for its activities.
The PEMRA has taken no notice of violation of its order by the private TV channels with regard to Saeed, suggesting that the Nawaz Sharif government has ‘silently’ lifted ban on Saeed and his organisations to appear on the Pakistani TV channels. A source in PEMRA said that it had received complaints about Saeed’s appearance in the TV talk shows despite the ban.
“The matter was brought to the knowledge of PEMRA chief Absar Alam but he did not order issuance of show-cause notice to the private channels violating its order, suggesting there seems to be a direction from the information ministry in this regard,” the source said.
The PEMRA earlier had warned the electronic media that in case of non-compliance (to the directive), it will take legal action — imposition of fine or suspension or cancellation of licence. The watchdog notification banned all TV channels and FM radio from coverage of banned groups including LeT, JuD and FIF under UN restriction.
The UN declared JuD a terror organisation and also individually designated Saeed as a terrorist in December 2008. The US has already put USD 10 million reward on his head. The Jammaat-ud-Dawah has already challenged the Pemra ban on him and his organisations in the Lahore High Court. The case is still pending there.