PPF terms PEMRA’s prohibition of interview of former prime minister’s interview as a dangerous step

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) believes that a recent Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) prohibition order issued to Bol News Talk Show Tajzia hosted by Sami Ibrahim following the broadcast of an interview with former prime minister Imran Khan is a dangerous step taken by the regulatory body. This order has restricted the broadcast or re-broadcast of Khan’s controversial interview and led to censorship on a matter of public importance.

While PEMRA is responsible for monitoring content, to ban a statement made by a senior political leader, is to restrict the public’s access to information. The remarks made by Khan are not the responsibility of the journalist or his network and to restrict a comment made is a way of restricting free speech.

During a nearly hour-long  interview with Ibrahim, aired on June 1, in the timestamp noted with contention by PEMRA, Khan had referenced the ‘establishment’ a euphemism for the military leadership, and the breakdown of Pakistan.

“If the establishment doesn’t make the right decisions right now, I will give it to you in writing, they will be destroyed, the Army will be destroyed first, because the country will go bankrupt, where will the country go?

“I will tell you the sequence, since they [the sitting government] has come, the rupee has fallen, stock market (sic), things have gotten expensive. Pakistan is going towards default.

 “If we default, that means Pakistan is headed towards bankruptcy. What is the biggest institution that will be hit? The Pakistan Army.

“When the Army is hit, what concession will be taken from us? The same they took from Ukraine — to denuclearize. […]

“When that goes, what will happen? I will tell you today, Pakistan will be broken into three parts,” he said, adding that this was already said in plans by foreign think tanks.

“So if the right decisions aren’t made now, Pakistan is headed toward suicide which is why I am exerting pressure,” he said, concluding that particular comment.

Khan’s comments regarding the establishment and the future of Pakistan were widely criticized and in the aftermath, PEMRA issued its order against Ibrahim’s show.

As per PEMRA, the order issued on June 2, stated that the broadcast or the re-broadcast of the “referred content” by Khan in the programme between 20:19pm to 20:20:10pm was prohibited on all satellite television channels with immediate effect.

It read: “the statement of the guest was aired which is (sic) gravely threatened the national security, independence, sovereignty, integrity and ideology of the country which is likely to create hatred among the people and is prejudiced to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disrupt public tranquility”.

Ends/PPF