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ISLAMABAD: A petition has been filed in Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking a lifetime ban on former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri for using all kinds of media as they have been declared proclaimed offenders in different cases by courts.

The petition filed by retired Lt-Col Inamur Rahim said under the electronic media code of conduct inciting the citizens to dislodge a democratic set-up was an offence that both have been committing.

The petition cited the secretary Ministry of Information, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Gen Musharraf and Dr Qadri as respondents.

The petitioner said General Musharraf, the sole accused in the high treason case, had been declared a proclaimed offender in the Benazir Bhutto murder and the judges’ detention cases.

“Through his illegal acts, the accused brought disrespect to Pakistan. After registration of the FIR in the judges’ detention case, Musharraf applied for bail before the IHC. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC not only dismissed his bail application but also directed to insert section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) in the case.”

Petitioner says ex-military ruler and PAT chief are inciting citizens to dislodge democratic setup

Gen Musharraf was also declared a proclaimed offender by ATC judge Shahrukh Arjumand in the judges detention case.

The petitioner contended that through his speeches Gen Musharraf through was openly inciting the citizens to dislodge the democratic set-up in the country. In his speeches and interviews, he justifies his illegal and unconstitutional acts.

“In one of his recent interviews, Musharraf said rough elements within the establishment of Pakistan may have been involved in the murder of Ms Bhutto.”

Regarding Dr Qadri, the petitioner said courts in two cases had declared him a proclaimed offender and issued his arrest warrants. He said Dr Qadri was facing cases related to 2014 sit-ins and arson in Islamabad and an attack case in Lahore.

It said both Gen Musharraf and Dr Qadri were proclaimed offenders and fugitive of the law but the electronic media was regularly broadcasting their news, statements, interviews and speeches thus glorifying them. “This is being done in a blatant violation of the National Action Plan (NAP) whereby strict action was required to be taken against promotion of hatred, extremism, intolerance and glorification of terrorists through print and electronic media.”

The petitioner said he had also sent an application to Pemra to take action against all those news channels broadcasting statements, interviews and speeches of them. However, no action was taken in this regard. The petitioner said under section 3(1)(b) of the electronic media code of conduct 2015, no content shall be aired which incited or condoned the dislodgement of a democratic set-up.

He contended that it was legal obligations of the information ministry and Pemra to take action against Gen Musharraf and Dr Qadri.

“However, it is a matter of fact that the above respondents have completely failed to perform their legal obligations with true spirit.” The petitioner requested the court to declare that since Gen Musharraf and Dr Qadri had shown disrespect towards the Constitution and disobeyed the laws, a lifetime ban may be imposed on them for using the media. He also requested the court to direct the ministry of information and Pemra to take action against all those news channels and newspapers who were glorifying the proclaimed offenders in violation of the code of conduct and NAP.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018

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