The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has banned the television and radio coverage of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) after it was declared a proscribed entity by the government, it emerged on Friday.
In a communique sent to all satellite TV channels and FM radio stations, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the authority referred to the Ministry of Interior's notification in which it said the government "has declared Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan as a proscribed organisation for being engaged in act of terrorism, [and] acting in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country".
It noted that the Pemra (Television Broadcast Station Operation) Regulation, 2012, and the Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015, required that programmes "shall conform to the laws of the country". Additionally, Clause 3(3) of the Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015, "prohibits media coverage to proscribed organisations".
"Therefore, [...] while exercising powers conferred under Section 27 of Pemra Ordinance, 2002, as amended [by] Pemra (Amendment) Act, 2007, media coverage of 'Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan' is banned," the Pemra letter dated April 15 said.
It directed all satellite TV channel and FM radio licensees to "restrain from providing any kind of media coverage to this organisation".
Government bans TLP under anti-terrorism law
On Thursday, the government had slapped a ban on the TLP, whose activists staged three days of violent protests across the country this week after their leader's arrest. A notification declaring TLP as a proscribed organisation was issued by the Ministry of Interior shortly after the federal cabinet approved a summary to ban the party.
The notification said: “The federal government has reasonable grounds to believe that the TLP is engaged in terrorism, [has] acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country, [was] involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidating the public, caused grievous bodily harm, hurt and death to the personnel of law enforcement agencies and innocent by-standers, attacked civilians and officials, created wide-scale hurdles, threatened, abused and promoted hatred, vandalised and ransacked public and government properties including vehicles and caused arson, blocked essential health supplies to hospitals, and has threatened, coerced, intimidated, and overawed the government [and] the public and created sense of fear and insecurity in the society and the public at large."
Copies of the notification were sent to authorities concerned, including the secretaries of different ministries and divisions, State Bank governor, Election Commission of Pakistan secretary and director general passports.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority had also swiftly added the TLP to the list of banned terrorist organisations taking the total number of such outfits to 79.
In an effort to keep the ulema in the loop, the religious affairs minister had also hosted an Iftar-dinner in honour of religious scholars where Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had briefed them on the reasons for banning the TLP.