Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog bans broadcast of Imran Khan’s speeches


Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog on Sunday banned satellite television channels from broadcasting live and recorded speeches of ousted prime minister Imran Khan with immediate effect, hours after he “provocative statements against state institutions”.

Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman addressed his party workers outside his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, saying he has never “bowed before any man or institution.” He also lashed out at government leaders, alleging they stashed their wealth overseas and were given protection in legal cases by former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Islamabad police on Sunday reached Khan’s Lahore residence to arrest him in the Toshakhana case, but returned after assurance from his legal team that he will appear before the court on March 7.

In the prohibition order, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) referred to previous directives wherein all licencees were directed to “refrain from telecasting any content against state institutions”.

The authority said Khan, in his speech, was “levelling baseless allegations and spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officers which is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb public peace and tranquillity”. It said airing of hateful, slanderous, and unwarranted statements against state institutions is “in sheer violation of Article 19 of the Constitution and a judgement of the Supreme Court”.

It was observed that such content was telecast by TV channels without effective utilisation of time-delay mechanism in violation of provisions of PEMRA laws as well as judgments of the apex courts, the regulator added.

PEMRA also warned TV channels that their license would be suspended in case of non-compliance.

The regulator also directed all satellite TV channels to ensure that an “impartial editorial board” is constituted to ensure that their platforms is not used by anyone for “uttering remarks in any manner which are contemptuous and against any state institution and hateful, prejudicial to law and order situation in the country”.