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Pakistan’s private ARY news channel taken off air for airing Imran Khan’s speech

Hours after Pakistan’s media regulator banned broadcasts of ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s speeches, the private ARY TV news channel was taken off air on Monday for airing his address a day earlier.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Sunday night banned satellite television channels from broadcasting live and recorded speeches of the 70-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician after Islamabad police failed to arrest him.

ARY is not currently available and instead a message is benign shown on it about ban by the regulator.

The ARY channel is considered sympathetic towards Khan and action had been taken against the broadcaster in the past as well.

“It has been observed that Mr Imran Khan, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, in his speeches/statements is continuously…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,” read an order by Pemra.

It said airing of hateful, slanderous and unwarranted statements against state institutions is “in sheer violation of Article 19 of the Constitution and a judgment of the Supreme Court”.

It has been observed that such content was telecasted 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.

“Therefore, the competent authority i.e. Chairman PEMRA…hereby prohibits broadcast/rebroadcast of speech(s)/press talks (recorded or live) of Mr Imran Khan on all satellite TV channels with immediate effect,” read the PEMRA order.

It also directed all satellite TV channels to ensure that impartial editorial boards be constituted, as required under Clause 17 of Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisement) Code of Conduct 2015, to ensure their platforms are not used for airing contemptuous remarks or hateful or prejudicial statement against state institutions or in the interest of public law and order.

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

It is not for the first time that PEMRA took action against Khan. It had prohibited the broadcast and re-broadcast of speeches and press conferences of the PTI chairman in November last year as well, but the federal government revoked it on the same day.

Earlier Sunday, Islamabad police travelled to Lahore to arrest Khan with an arrest warrant on suspicion that he had avoided appearing in court.

However, the police were told that Khan was not at his residence but later he appeared outside the residence and delivered a blistering speech which resulted in the ban.

Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.

Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.

Since his ouster, Khan has been clamouring for immediate elections to oust what he termed was an “imported government” led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Sharif has maintained that elections will be held later this year once the parliament completes its five-year tenure. PTI

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