Islamabad: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has issued show cause notices to some 14 TV channels for airing the ‘anti-state’ remarks of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader former Senator Nehal Hashmi. In his remarks, he had criticised the armed forces of the country in a hard hitting speech.
The notices served to Geo News, Bol TV, ARY, Neo, 92 News, GNN, Abb Takk, Samaa TV, Metro One, 7 News, Hum News, Channel 5, 24 News and Public TV have directed the management of these TV channels to explain why Hashmi’s remarks casting “aspersions on the armed forces of Pakistan” were aired by them in a 4pm news bulletin.
The electronic media watchdog has termed the airing of the controversial statements a clear violation of the Pemra Code of Conduct (CoC) and against various provisions of Pemra rules.
Interestingly, the regulatory authority in the said show cause notice has described Hashmi as a politician who has a past record of “giving controversial statements against the state institutions and had been reprimanded by the Supreme Court for his misconduct.”
The regulator does not stop there and further comments that “Extending airtime to him [Hashmi] is tantamount to wilful breach of media ethics as well as Pemra laws.
The authority has also directed the TV channels’ CEOs to appear in person on October 26, Friday, at the authority’s Islamabad office during office timings and submit in writing why they violated Pemra laws as well as the CoC, by airing comments of a “person non-grata.”
Hashmi was previously sent to jail for his controversial remarks against the judiciary.
On Friday, while addressing a function at the Karachi Medical and Dental College, he had reportedly said that the armed forces had “done nothing for the defence and betterment of the country and the weapons acquired by them for defence purposes were “merely showpieces”.
His speech was widely broadcast on TV channels and as a result, Pemra had to take prompt action and remind the TV channels that they had done something unacceptable.
Soon after Hashmi’s hard-hitting speech, a PML-N spokesperson in a statement dissociated the party with what the former senator’s comments about the military.
According to former Punjab Home Minister MNA Rana Sanaullah, Hashmi’s statement has nothing to do with the party and reflected his personal views.
“Mr Hashmi has been expelled from the PML-N, so the party cannot take any action against him,” the former Punjab minister said.
“He was sacked after he refused to step down as a senator on party orders, over the statement that he made against judiciary in the past. One may disagree with state institutions but this is not the way to register a protest,” said Sanaullah.