KARACHI: A man filed a petition in the Sindh High Court on Saturday seeking removal of a ban on media coverage of speeches of London-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Husain.

In 2015, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had placed a ban on the broadcast of statements, speeches and images of MQM supremo across all electronic media in the light of a order of the Lahore High Court.

Mohammad Shams Alam, a resident of Gulshan-i-Iqbal, petitioned the SHC stating that he was a businessman and law-abiding citizen having no political background.

Citing the interior secretary, Pemra’s director general-operations and others as respondent, the petitioner argued that Pemra through a notification issued on Sept 7, 2015 had placed a complete ban on airing the MQM founder’s speeches, statements and images in electronic media in violation of Article 5 of the Constitution.

Subsequently, he submitted that Mr Hussain had faced trial in the United Kingdom on charges of encouraging terrorism in Karachi from London and in February a 12-member jury in a majority verdict had acquitted him.

He further submitted that the ban on media coverage of Mr Hussain’s speeches might be lifted as he had already extended an apology on the anti-state slogans.

The petitioner argued that being a citizen of Karachi and as a follower of Mr Hussain’s philosophy and ideology, he wanted to listen to his speeches.

He said that further and additional arguments would be advanced at the time of hearing of the petition.

The petitioner sought directives for the respondents to lift the ban placed on the media coverage of MQM founder’s speeches and statements.

A larger bench of LHC bench had ordered a ban on the coverage of MQM founder’s speeches while hearing a set of petitions filed against Mr Hussain.

The petitioners had contended that Mr Hussain had been delivering speeches against the state, military and other institutions in violation of Article 5 of the Constitution and pleaded to order the government to try him for high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution.

They had also argued that Mr Hussain was a British national and no foreign citizen could head a political party in Pakistan under the relevant law and he had no right to deliver speeches on television channels in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2022

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