LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: Punjab Police on Monday booked two PML-N ministers, as well as two senior officials of state-run PTV on terrorism charges for allegedly “fanning religious hatred” against ousted prime minister Imran Khan and “endangering his life”.

Green Town police registered an FIR under Section 9 (punishment for acts intended or likely to stir up sectarian hatred) and Section 11X(3) (responsibility for creating civil commotion) of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 against Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Federal Minister Mian Javed Latif, PTV Managing Director Sohail Khan,as well as the broadcaster’s Controller Programmes, Rashid Baig, on the complaint of a local prayer leader.

Mr Latif had, in a Sept 14 press conference, declared the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman a “non-Muslim” and “supporter” of the Ahmadiyya community. The FIR accused Mr Latif of “consulting” Ms Aurangzeb in relation to his press conference and organising it in collaboration with her, the PTV managing director and the broadcaster’s controller programmes. The individuals have been accused of endangering Mr Khan’s life through their actions.

Latif, an MNA from Sheikhupura, had gone to jail last year for a few weeks for allegedly ‘inciting the people against the state institutions, including the army’. In a television programme, he had said his party would not say “Pakistan Khappay” (an expression of allegiance to the country) if anything happened to Ms Sharif. MrLatif had become a ‘favourite’ of Ms Sharif after the episode, observers said.

Senate body takes ‘stern notice’ of Latif’s speech

Separately, the Jammat Ahmadiya Pakistan spokesperson said in a tweet on Monday: “For petty political point scoring certain ministers are engaged in concentrated hate campaign against a persecuted community. This isn’t 1st time we are the target of such campaigns. Those who themselves have been victims in recent past are again playing with fire at our cost.”

Stern notice

The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting separately took “stern notice” of the speech delivered by Mr Latif.

The committee, chaired by PTI Senator Faisal Javed, on Monday directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to conduct an internal inquiry on the matter and submit a report to the committee within seven days.The committee saw bipartisan support for a call to end hate speech. It was further agreed that such matters should be treated above party lines.

Senator Javed also expressed his displeasure on the continuous absence of the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Ms Aurangzeb, from the committee meetings.

In other business, officials from the Press Information Department (PID) presented data on the total amount spent by the federal governments on ad campaigns from 2013 to 2018, and from 2018 to April 2022.

The presentation irked a few members, as only a few local channels were identified in the data. PID officials were also asked to also share data on government spending on ads given to local tv channels.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2022

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