The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has placed a ban on analyst Hafeezullah Niazi from appearing on any TV channel for 30 days over his alleged "defamatory" remarks against senator Azam Swati, it emerged on Tuesday.
The decision was taken based on recommendations provided to Pemra by the authority's Council of Complaints, a press release issued on Monday said.
"Mr Niazi in a programme on Geo News on July 6, 2019 had levelled certain allegations against Senator Azam Swati which the channel could not substantiate before the Council of Complaints," read Pemra's handout.
It stated that Geo News had been provided "sufficient time" to "prove the veracity of comments uttered by the said analyst" but the channel had failed to provide a satisfactory response.
The channel has been directed to issue an apology within seven days "for airing baseless/defamatory comments" which Pemra said were in violation of its code of conduct.
The channel's failure to do so will result in a fine of Rs1 million being imposed on it, the press release added.
Facing a case in the Supreme Court over the accusation that he had influenced the transfer of former Islamabad inspector general of police Jan Mohammad, Swati had tendered his resignation as minister for science and technology to Prime Minister Imran Khan in December.
He was later appointed as federal minister for parliamentary affairs in a federal cabinet reshuffle in April.
In a news conference in July, Swati had remarked that the media had no right to level baseless allegations against any individual.
He had spoken of how Niazi had claimed during the show that he (Swati) was facing an insurance fraud case in the United States. He said the baseless accusation had damaged his credibility.
Swati had said at the time that he had filed a case against Niazi as well as Geo TV with Pemra and intended to file a defamation suit against them claiming Rs1 billion in damages.
He had further said that Niazi would have to apologise to the viewers in the same programme to avoid further legal action, or prove the allegation.
Swati had said he had gone to the US in 1978 and remained there till 2001. “I have no case against me for the last 45 years,” the minister had maintained.