A parliamentary panel on Tuesday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to equally treat all the private TV channels with a view to ensuring media freedom. This was directed by Imran Zafar Laghari while chairing a meeting of the Sub-Committee of National Assembly Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.
The committee directed Additional Inspector General (AIG) of Sindh Police, Sanaullah Abbasi to hold a thorough inquiry to determine why Dr Asim Hussain’s video was leaked. The AIG asked to present a report to the committee within three weeks.
The committee asked the Sindh government to register a written complaint with Pemra so that the authority can take appropriate steps if any section of the Pemra law was violated by any media house while airing the leaked video.
Briefing the committee, Chairman Pemra, Absar Alam also presented the list of those TV channels that aired the leaked video. Replying to different queries of committee members, the Chairman Pemra said that there are no restrictions on TV channels to air such videos but commentary and observations made by anchors/presenters that are aimed at influencing courts can be brought under investigation.
The Pemra Chairman said that 20 TV channels broadcast the leaked video. The Sub-Committee appreciated this initiative of the Pemra officials.
Briefing the committee, AIG Sindh Police said that Dr Asim was arrested by the Sindh Rangers which took a 90-day remand from a court, after that 90-day period, he was handed over to the Sindh police. Dr Asim was also required by National Accountability Bureau (NAB). “So at this point the Sindh Police was not in a position to say that who was behind the leaked video and why it was leaked,” he said.
He said that Inspector General (IG) of Sindh Police had directed him to conduct an inquiry into the case and he will expend all his energies towards finalising the inquiry report within the stipulated timeframe which would be presented before the committee.
Committee Members noted that the Sindh government was not registering a formal complaint with Pemra or with any other institution against airing of the leaked video but was maligning the federal government and other national institutions.
The committee directed the Sindh Police to take the video case as a test case and fix the responsibility as all the inquiries under Joint Investigation Team (JIT) are being headed by a Superintendent of Police (SP)-level officer.
The committee was informed by the AIG Sindh Police that Dr Asim Hussain had rejected the ‘revelations’ of the leaked video, and an alleged statement regarding Wasim Akhtar’s involvement in the May 12, 2007 killings in Karachi.