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Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog bans live coverage of rallies and public gatherings in Islamabad

Islamabad, Mar 27: Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog banned the live coverage of rallies and public gatherings in the federal capital on Monday, hours before former prime minister Imran Khan was scheduled to appear before a top court here seeking interim bail in seven cases.


The PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) issued this communique after law enforcement agencies said Khan’s appearance before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) could lead to a possible law and order situation in and around the federal capital.


The watchdog observed that satellite television channels run live footage/images of violent mobs attacking police and law enforcement agencies.


“Such footage or images were seen on TV without any editorial oversight during the recent standoff between political party workers and law enforcement agencies in Lahore and Islamabad wherein, the violent mob used petrol bombs, injuring armless (sic) policemen and blazing (sic) police vehicles,” it observed.


It said that airing footage on different satellite TV channels “created chaos and panic” among viewers and the police.


“Such activism by mob not only jeopardises law and order situation but also makes public properties and lives vulnerable,” it warned.


PEMRA said airing such content would be tantamount to the violation of several Supreme Court judgments.


Earlier this month, PEMRA banned satellite television channels from broadcasting live and recorded speeches of Khan with immediate effect, hours after the former premier dodged arrest and made “provocative statements against state institutions.”


Khan had lashed out at government leaders, alleging they stashed their wealth overseas and were given protection in legal cases by former Pakistan Army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa.


Across Islamabad, authorities on Monday imposed Section 144 of the Pakistan Penal Code that barred the gathering of people and warned of arrests in case of the violation of this order.


Meanwhile, the IHC granted interim bail to Khan in seven different cases registered against him following clashes at the federal judicial complex here earlier this month when the former prime minister arrived from Lahore to appear in a hearing in the Toshakhana case.


A total of 143 cases have been registered against Khan, mostly on terrorism charges.


Khan, 70, has been repeatedly claiming that his life is under threat because of which he was abstaining from attending court hearings.


Khan, after surviving an attack on him during a rally in Wazirabad in Punjab province in November last year, named Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah behind the assassination attempt on him.


He also blamed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a senior ISI officer for their role in the assassination bid.


Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician, was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, becoming the first Pakistani prime minister to be voted out by the National Assembly.


Since his ouster, he has been demanding snap polls in the country to remove the “imported government” led by Prime Minister Sharif.




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