Pakistan: HRCP and Amnesty decry crackdown


The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan termed the government crackdown as “shortsighted”. “There is now an acute need for both the government and opposition to hold a political dialogue, lower the political temperature and find a solution to this perpetual impasse,” it stressed. Amnesty International strongly criticised the ban and called for it to be lifted. “Authorities in Pakistan has placed a blanket ban on protests in Lahore.

The authorities have used a draconian colonial-era law to crush dissent hours before several protests, including the #AuratMarch,” it tweeted. The Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (Pemra) directed all satellite TV channels asking them to “ensure stoppage of media coverage of the protests/protesters at the Mall Road Red Zone, Lahore”, citing a previous directive from a 2019 case. The media watchdog noted “some of the satellite TV channels are indulged in non-stop coverage of public gathering and rallies and while covering those gatherings and rallies, slanderous and malicious content targeting state institutions is aired”, adding that such content was “not in consonance with Pemra Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015”.

It added that such coverage was also in violation of a past Lahore High Court order (2020 CLC 157), which stated that “no television channel will make any coverage of the protests being conducted on the Mall Road Red Zone”.

Pemra further said that “airing of malicious and slanderous content against state institutions is in violation of Section 20b, 20c, 20d and 20f of the Pemra Ordinance 2002, Rule 15(1) of Pemra Rules 2009, Regulation 18(1) (c), (g)(m) of Pemra (Television Broadcast Station Operations) Regulations 2012 and Clauses 3 (1) (j)(I), 4(3), 4(9), 4(10), 5 and 17 of Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015”.

The order warned that “airing of malicious and slanderous content in news bulletins, talk shows press conferences or during coverage of a public gathering/rallies and addresses would be licensee’s responsibility” and any violations would “be considered to be committed intentionally”. It added that punitive action such as programming prohibition, fine imposition and suspension or revocation or cancellation of licence could be taken against the licensee.__Daily Times