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Two channels served notices for ‘sensationalising’ Farishta issue

Updated May 24, 2019

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The family of Farishta protested against alleged police inaction in Islamabad on Tuesday. ─ Photo courtesy Basit Sherani Twitter/File
The family of Farishta protested against alleged police inaction in Islamabad on Tuesday. ─ Photo courtesy Basit Sherani Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Comm­ittee on Information was informed on Thursday that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had issued show-cause notices to two TV channels for “sensationalising” the Farishta murder issue.

In reply to a query by members of the committee, Pemra Chairman Saleem Baig said the show-cause notices had been issued because the channels “violated the code of conduct”.

“The channels have been directed to abide by the code of conduct, However, the regulatory body does not interfere in the editorial policy of any channel,” Mr Baig said.

The committee, headed by Senator Faisal Javed, also discussed the coverage of the murder of Farishta, the 10-year-old Islamabad girl.

Read: Family protests after body of missing girl found, three suspects arrested

Senator Khushbakht Shujat said television channels should show a “responsible attitude” over social issues.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of the Jamaat–i-Islami said no crime be linked to ethnicity and, without naming anybody, criticised the attitude of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement for giving the issue a political colour.

“In Nadra’s record my caste is Afghan, but I am a Pakistani and playing politics over such matters is incorrect,” Senator Mushtaq said.

The committee also took up problems being faced by the employees of Radio Pakistan, Pakistan Television and Lok Virsa.

The meeting saw a shouting match between Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and former information minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid.

Senator Rashid said that currently there was neither a “working minister for information” nor was there any minister of state.

“While the stature of this ministry has been reduced to the level of special assistant, there is an important institution of the country where the level of spokesperson has been raised from the rank of colonel to major general,” Senator Rashid added.

Dr Awan hit back: “I enjoy the powers of a minister and being a medical practitioner I know how to cure ailing entities.

“We have reconciled all dues of media organisations left behind by the previous government.”

The committee was informed that the Punjab government owed Rs570 million to the media, the KP government Rs100 million, while the federal government had to pay an amount of Rs1.10 billion, related to advertisements released by the previous government.

The government would clear the dues of PTV and Radio Pakistan employees soon, the committee was told.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2019