Pemra’s curbs on ex-servicemen’s appearance in TV shows to be challenged in IHC

Updated April 07, 2019

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Pemra has instructed all TV channels to seek prior clearance from the Inter-Services Public Relations before inviting retired military officers on news and current affairs programmes “to solicit their views on matters of national security”. ─ Dawn/File
Pemra has instructed all TV channels to seek prior clearance from the Inter-Services Public Relations before inviting retired military officers on news and current affairs programmes “to solicit their views on matters of national security”. ─ Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: The Ex-Servicemen Legal Forum, an association of retired army officers-turned-lawyers, has decided to challenge a notification of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) to TV channels, imposing some restrictions on the appearance of retired military officers in TV programmes as defence analysts.

The convener of the Forum, retired Lt Col Inamur Rahim Khawaja, told Dawn on Saturday that the Forum in its meeting held earlier in the day had decided to challenge the Pemra notification in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

In the notification issued on Thursday, Pemra instructed all TV channels to seek prior clearance from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) before inviting retired military officers on news and current affairs programmes “to solicit their views on matters of national security”.

The Pemra’s notification stated: “It has seriously been observed by the concerned quarters that retired military officers are frequently being invited in different news and current affairs programmes / talk shows as defence analysts to solicit their views / opinions on matters of national security and related affairs. Such invitees are usually not fully conversant with latest defence and security related developments due to their service background and post retirement time. Moreover, the discussion mostly switches from security related matters to politics which inadvertently embroils military officers into political debate which is felt undesirable.”

The electronic media watchdog suggested that the “retired armed forces officers may only be invited for the discussion on military related matters with the prior clearance of the ISPR”.

Pemra further directed that retired military officers invited for discussion other than security related issues should not be called defence analyst, but be titled as only analyst.

Mr Khawaja claimed that the Pemra direction was against various constitutional provisions that ensured fundamental rights, freedom of expression and equality among citizens.

He said the Forum had in principle decided to challenge the Pemra notification and a petition in this regard would be filed in the IHC next week.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2019