Pakistan suspends channel for airing programme against judiciary

Pakistan has suspended a television channel for 15 days and imposed a fine of Rs 10 million for airing a derogatory programme against the country's judiciary, the second time this year when a major news network has been silenced by the government.

Islamabad: Pakistan has suspended a television channel for 15 days and imposed a fine of Rs 10 million for airing a derogatory programme against the country's judiciary, the second time this year when a major news network has been silenced by the government.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) suspended ARY News' licence yesterday, accusing it of maligning the country's judiciary in a talk show, 'Khara Sach', which was critical of the court system and senior judges.
A special meeting of PEMRA was called yesterday to review the talk show anchored by Mubasher Lucman on the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

PEMRA officials found the show in contravention with the PEMRA act and its code of conduct. The regulatory authority had banned Lucman and the talk show on Saturday.

Earlier on Friday, the LHC had issued bailable arrest warrants against ARY News chief executive officer Salman Iqbal, programme's producer Lucman and Asim Malik, owner of a firm whose interview was aired, for not appearing before the court despite having been summoned.

The court placed restrictions on airing of the show and participation of the anchor in any other TV programme.
It ordered inclusion of the name of Lucman in the Exit Control List (ECL) and summoned the attorney general, Punjab advocate general, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general and Lahore district coordination officer on October 21.

It is the second time this year that a major television news network has been silenced by the government.

In June, the media regulatory authority had suspended the licence of the country's popular news channel Geo TV after it accused a senior intelligence official of orchestrating the attempted killing of one of its journalists.

Condemning the move as "politically motivated", Amnesty International accused the government of silencing media.

"ARY TV must be immediately allowed back on air. There is simply no justification for the Pakistani authorities to silence sections of the media solely because of their political leanings," said Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International.

"The ban on ARY is a sobering reminder of the threat of criminal prosecution on the basis of overly broad contempt of court or anti-state provisions. Journalists in Pakistan are under attack from all sides, facing harassment, even abduction and killings for carrying out their work," he said.
"Journalism is an incredibly dangerous profession in Pakistan. Instead of trying to control what journalists say, the Pakistani authorities should do more to protect them so they can carry out their legitimate work," Mustafa Qadri said. Islamabad: Pakistan has suspended a television channel for 15 days and imposed a fine of Rs 10 million for airing a derogatory programme against the country's judiciary, the second time this year when a major news network has been silenced by the government.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) suspended ARY News' licence yesterday, accusing it of maligning the country's judiciary in a talk show, 'Khara Sach', which was critical of the court system and senior judges.
A special meeting of PEMRA was called yesterday to review the talk show anchored by Mubasher Lucman on the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

PEMRA officials found the show in contravention with the PEMRA act and its code of conduct. The regulatory authority had banned Lucman and the talk show on Saturday.

Earlier on Friday, the LHC had issued bailable arrest warrants against ARY News chief executive officer Salman Iqbal, programme's producer Lucman and Asim Malik, owner of a firm whose interview was aired, for not appearing before the court despite having been summoned.

The court placed restrictions on airing of the show and participation of the anchor in any other TV programme.
It ordered inclusion of the name of Lucman in the Exit Control List (ECL) and summoned the attorney general, Punjab advocate general, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general and Lahore district coordination officer on October 21.

It is the second time this year that a major television news network has been silenced by the government.

In June, the media regulatory authority had suspended the licence of the country's popular news channel Geo TV after it accused a senior intelligence official of orchestrating the attempted killing of one of its journalists.

Condemning the move as "politically motivated", Amnesty International accused the government of silencing media.

"ARY TV must be immediately allowed back on air. There is simply no justification for the Pakistani authorities to silence sections of the media solely because of their political leanings," said Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International.

"The ban on ARY is a sobering reminder of the threat of criminal prosecution on the basis of overly broad contempt of court or anti-state provisions. Journalists in Pakistan are under attack from all sides, facing harassment, even abduction and killings for carrying out their work," he said.
"Journalism is an incredibly dangerous profession in Pakistan. Instead of trying to control what journalists say, the Pakistani authorities should do more to protect them so they can carry out their legitimate work," Mustafa Qadri said. 

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