Are We A Lawless Country?

While some debate whether supreme law of the land is the Constitution or the Quran, I am here to offer another possibility. We have many laws, but we are a lawless country. Let us look at the evidence. First there is PEMRA’s notice to Bol News directing not to air Aamir Liaquat due to hate speech.

“During several weeks it has been monitored that Amir Liaquat host of the programme Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga, in the episodes broadcast on BOL News from January 2, 2017 to January 24, 2017, has willfully and repeatedly made statements and allegations which tantamount to hate speech, derogatory remarks, incitement to violence against citizens and casting accusation of being anti-state and anti-Islam, on various individuals.”

In a country with rule of law, Bol would respond by appealing the notice through proper legal channels. Here, though, the media group not only defied the notice completely, they allowed the banned personality to abuse the government agency on the air!

Next is the case of a massive land allotment to the ex-Army chief. Media reports that Gen Raheel had been gifted 90 acres of prime land in Lahore sent shockwaves and serious questions about the decision were debated…for one day. Then the Army gave a warning about the limits of discussing certain legal matters.


In case it was not clear, the phrase “This debate with intent of maligning Army” is a direct warning to anyone that any further discussion will result in severe action, just as when Army carried out similar threats against media groups in the recent past. Even analysts who are very pro-Army have noted the anti-democratic nature of ISPR’s warning, but such objections assume we are living in a society ruled by laws. This may be true in theory, but what is the reality?

 

Hafiz Saeed on TV: Another case of JuD working with authorities?

When PEMRA issued its directive to media groups not to give coverage to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, journalists expressed frustration about how to do this when JuD works so closely with authorities. All attempts at enforcing the directive seem to have been forgotten, though, as now it is not only JuD working closely with officials that is being broadcast, but JuD amir Hafiz Saeed is in the media giving opinions on all major issues facing the country.

Hafiz Saeed is giving advise not only in print media:

Hafiz Saeed quote in mediaHe is also appearing on talk shows giving opinions on extremely sensitive matters also.

Is PEMRA taking a nap? And how is Hafiz Saeed given such attention by media when censors are removing entire reports from newspapers?

Is Hafiz Saeed being invited to project his opinions on sensitive issues an accident? Or is it another case of JuD working closely with authorities?

Pulling the Plug: Is the Era of Media Freedom Over?

TV off air

The historical irony that a military dictator ushered in an era of journalistic freedom has not gone unnoticed. Gen Musharraf unleashed the media dogs, and the media dogs bit him squarely. For the next few years, the media served a purpose, though, keeping check on our new democracy by showing no restraint against any civilian politician. But as the curtain begins to close on Pakistani democracy, the era of media freedom too appears to be drawing to a close.

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There are no terrorists in Pakistan

There are no terrorists in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden was never living in Abbottabad, and the American raid did not happen. PNS Mehran neither. This must be the case. Why else would the Supreme Court be spending time, money, and energy to issue orders regarding broadcast licenses?

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry today ordered Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to issue a broadcasting licence to Geo Super immediately and submit the compliance report in three days, Geo News reported.

As the bloggers at Cafe Pyala pointed out two months ago, Geo Super has a broadcast license and an open uplink.

Now let me share with you what has actually happened, which Geo will never tell you and which PEMRA is too idiotic to explain properly. Basically, in contravention of its status as a foreign channel with landing rights in Pakistan, Geo Super had been secretively uplinking from Pakistan. Under the law, Geo Super could only regularly uplink to satellite from abroad (Dubai or wherever it chose). When this uplink facility violation was discovered, PEMRA basically shut that operation down. This does not mean that Geo Super cannot broadcast its programmes by uplinking from abroad, as it was supposed to be doing in the first place. PEMRA has pointed out in its ad yesterday that Geo Super still has landing rights and is free to distribute its programmes via cable. In effect, therefore it is Geo Super that has shut itself off.

This is also why Geo Super had scrambled to apply for a “temporary uplinking license” from PEMRA on April 4, a facility that is allowed under the rules for specific events such as a major sporting competition taking place within the country. PEMRA, in perfectly legally defensible fashion, asked Geo Super to specify the event it wanted to cover. Since Geo Super could not name any, PEMRA was within its rights to refuse, which they apparently have still not technically done. The Jang Group’s claims of unfair victimization, at least on the basis of this alleged refusal, are merely attempts at a smokescreen.

So Geo Super shuts itself off in order to create a PR campaign for forcing the government to give it a domestic uplink, and the Supreme Court has nothing better to do than get involved in this bogus affair? The fact that the Chief Justice was a member of the panel is all the more embarrassing for the court.

It’s a good thing that there are no serious problems in Pakistan. Otherwise someone might think the Supreme Court is being derelict in its duty by taking such miserably trivial cases.