Amid a war of words over Kashmir, the Pakistan government has apparently “relaxed” the media regulatory authority’s ban on alleged Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, allowing him to appear on private TV channels to advocate the cause of Kashmiris.
Since violence erupted in the Kashmir Valley, Saeed is back on private TV channels, bashing the Narendra Modi government for its role in the killing of “innocent” Kashmiris. He has appeared on a couple of news talk shows, mostly Neo TV, over 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 (Jamaat-ud-Dawa), 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 private TV channels with regard to Saeed, suggesting that the Nawaz Sharif government may have silently lifted the ban.
A source in Pemra told PTI that it had received complaints about Saeed’s appearance on 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, it would take legal action — such as 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 Lashkar-e-Taiba, JuD and FIF under UN restrictions.
The UN declared JuD a terror organisation and also individually designated Saeed a terrorist in December 2008. The US has put a $10-million reward on his head.
The JuD has challenged the Pemra ban on him and his organisations in the Lahore high court, where the case is pending.