Islamabad: Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog has banned the broadcast and rebroadcast of any speech, interview or public address of absconders or proclaimed offenders. This decision was taken days after ailing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made blistering speeches from exile in London targeting the powerful Pakistani Army.
The move by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) came as it took cognizance of 70-year-old Sharif’s repeated attack on the Pakistan Army. In the latest attack Thursday, Sharif in a televised speech said that the military had rigged the 2018 vote that brought Prime Minister Imran Khan to power.
“PEMRA has received a complaint against several news channels airing speech of that of an absconder and a proclaimed offender. It has banned broadcast and rebroadcast of any speech, interview or public address of such absconders or proclaimed offender,” the media watchdog said in a statement Friday with a clear reference to Sharif. The media body also warned that anyone who fails to comply with the order would face action.
“If licensee fails to comply with the aforementioned directives, the authority shall take action under Section 29 and 30 of PEMRA Ordinance which may result in imposition of fine and suspension/revocation of licence,” the body warned.
Sharif served as Pakistan’s prime minister three times, first removed by a president in 1993, then by military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 1999. A court in 2017 ousted him from power over corruption allegations. Khan, a former cricketer, came to power in 2018.
Sharif spoke from London, where he has been since last November. He was released on bail to seek medical treatment abroad. At the time, a court permitted Sharif to leave the country for four weeks, but he did not return.
A court last month issued arrest warrants for Sharif, previously sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption and money laundering charges stemming from disclosures in the Panama Papers.
Sharif’s remarks came days after Pakistan’s opposition vowed to hold rallies in October to pressure Khan to resign.