Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ruled on Wednesday that in order to prevent 'pre-poll rigging' the electronic and print media will not be allowed to feature pictures of political leaders in government-sponsored advertisements.
Hearing a case regarding government-sponsored promotional material, the CJP deemed using pictures for self-promotion as inappropriate. "The use of pictures in government ads on TV or in print is henceforth prohibited by the court," he remarked.
The chief justice expressed displeasure over the fact that provincial governments spend taxpayers' money on massive advertisements. "People's hard-earned money will no longer be allowed for grandiose displays on streets and alleys," he said.
Addressing the president of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Hameed Haroon, who was also present during the hearing, the CJP said, "I know you to be a wise and principled man. Do you think the way the government is publishing self-promotional material is appropriate?"
Responding to the chief justice's query, Haroon responded by saying that APNS will accept whatever decision the chief justice takes in accordance with the law, adding "we cannot encourage any particular entity."
Nisar added that the court will not be a party to disputes such as certain channels getting more advertisements and supporting the government overtly.
In late February the CJP had taken suo motu notice of media advertisements by the governments of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab.
"Taxpayers' money is being used for self-promotion; big advertisements are awarded at the nation's expense," the chief justice had said in his remarks, asking, "Doesn't this equate to pre-poll rigging?"
The chief justice had said that the provincial governments run advertisements in the media with large logos and pictures to promote their projects, "yet 4,500 schools in Sindh are deprived of potable water".
"They [govts] will have to promote their work at their own expense," he had said.