LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and Additional Attorney-General Naseer Ahmed Bhutta to implement a ban on the broadcast of images and speeches of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain across all electronic and print media till further orders.
A three-judge LHC bench headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and comprising Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu and Justice Erum Sajjad Gull was hearing separate cases initiated by Advocate Aftab Virk, Abdullah Malik and others against the MQM supremo.
A petition filed by Advocate Aftab Virk in the LHC earlier this year pleaded that the 'anti-army' remarks made by Altaf Hussain fell under the category of treason, and that a treason case should be registered against him.
A petition filed by advocates Abdullah Malik, Aftab, Maqsood and others, called for a lifetime ban on the live telecast of Altaf Hussain's speeches, maintaining the MQM leader was in violation of Article 5 which asks for showing loyalty to the state and obedience to the constitution, and that a case of treason should be registered against Altaf under Article 6 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
The LHC directed the Interior Ministry secretary to verify Altaf Hussain's nationality and Director-General Operations Pemra to report whether the 'blackout' had been implemented.
Responding to the LHC’s directives Director-General Operations Pemra told the court that the print media did not fall under the jurisdiction of the regulatory body.
Subsequently the bench directed Additional Attorney-General Naseer Ahmed Bhutta ensure implementation of the ban in the print media by conveying the court’s order to the chairman Press Council of Pakistan.
Ordering a complete ban on the broadcast of images and speeches of the MQM supremo till the court announced its final verdict of the case regarding to treason allegations against Hussain, the bench adjourned the next hearing until Sept 18.
Last week, the bench heard petitions filed by Virk, Malik and others seeking a ban on the media coverage of Altaf Hussain’s speeches because of his alleged remarks against state institutions, including the army and Rangers.
The petitioners had argued that Altaf was a British national and no foreign citizen could head a political party in Pakistan under the Political Parties Act. He had no right to deliver speeches on television channels in Pakistan, they had said.
During last week's hearing, a law officer had informed the court that Pemra had already banned the live telecast of Altaf Hussain’s speeches.
MQM announces protest against LHC directives
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Monday announced that the party will stage a protest against the LHC order banning the broadcast of images and speeches of MQM chief Altaf Hussain in all electronic and print media.
In a meeting held after the announcement of the court's directives, MQM's Rabita Committee pondered over the situation which arose after the LHC ban and decided to stage a protest against what they called a 'partial' ban on broadcast of MQM supremo's images and speeches outside Karachi Press Club (KPC) on September 7 (today).
The party, in a statement urged all party workers, supporters to participate register their protest against the LHC verdict.
MQM website further says that the party's Rabita Committee will hold an emergency press conference at 5 pm at the Karachi Press Club after the protest.