A statement issued by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Friday carried a warning for all TV channels against airing unverified news or analysis themed around the Pakistan Army or its relationship with the civilian government.
Pemra, in its latest statement, made it clear that all news and current affairs TV channels, including its employees, panellists and anchorpersons, shall not divulge in discussing unverified news or analysis pertaining to the country’s civil-military relations without confirmation from the concerned institution.
The content, Pemra maintains, would be especially problematic if it accuses the military of something, tarnishes its ‘image’, or if it encourages anyone to take extra-constitutional measures.
“Those found in violation of the new Pemra guideline would be charged under Section 27 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002,” the press release stated.
Earlier this week, the Pemra chairman was assured of the Army chief’s support in dealing with threats that the media watchdog employees were allegedly facing.
Earlier in January, a Bol News show conducted by Dr Shahid Hamid was served a notice by Pemra for “carelessly and recklessly” discussing civil-military ties.
The contents of the programme, which were reproduced in Pemra’s show-cause notice, said Dr Masood stated in his programme that two ministers, one whose name starts with a ‘K’ and the other’s with a ‘D’, were called to the Army headquarters (GHQ).
Dr Masood identified one of them as “dealing with the treasury” and the other as “related to defence”.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar then served a defamation notice of Rs1 billion to the management of Bol News and Dr Masood over a claim that the minister had held a meeting with army personnel at the GHQ, Rawalpindi.