PakistanWorld

Imran Khan Confronts PEMRA on Speech and Press Talk Ban

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has challenged the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) decision to bar all satellite TV channels from broadcasting his speeches and press talks. On Sunday, PEMRA banned Imran’s speeches and press talks with “immediate effect” after he criticized former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for “protecting incumbent rulers in their alleged corruption cases.” Imran’s speeches and press talks have been banned from being broadcasted and rebroadcasted for the third time.

PEMRA’s Ban

The Pakistani media regulator, PEMRA, has accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of making baseless and provocative statements against state institutions and officers that could incite public unrest. PEMRA has reminded all TV channels to avoid airing content against state institutions.

  • Unfortunately, they found that licensees aired content featuring Imran’s statements without utilizing the time delay mechanism, violating the law and Supreme Court judgments.

Imran Khan Moves LHC

Imran Khan moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) against PEMRA’s decision on Monday. Imran named PEMRA and the authority’s director (operations, broadcast media) respondents in his petition. The petition pointed out that the Islamabad High Court had set aside a similar prohibition order in the past. It further contended that PEMRA was not empowered to issue a blanket prohibition order, which appears to be “in violation of the principle of proportionality.

The Fallout

The ongoing conflict between Imran Khan and PEMRA is not new. PEMRA has banned Imran’s speeches and press talks in the past, but these orders were either set aside or withdrawn. However, the ban seems to be more serious this time, and Imran has taken the matter to court.

The ban on Imran’s speeches and press talks raises several questions about the freedom of speech and the role of regulatory authorities in controlling the media. PEMRA’s decision to ban Imran’s speeches can be seen as an attempt to censor the media and control the narrative. Critics argue that such bans curtail the right to freedom of expression and limit public discourse.

Imran’s supporters see the ban as an attempt to silence their leader and prevent him from highlighting the alleged corruption of the ruling elite. They argue that PEMRA’s ban is politically motivated and designed to protect the interests of the ruling party and that this highlights the challenges faced by regulatory authorities in balancing the right to freedom of speech and the need to maintain law and order.

The situation also highlights the growing polarization in Pakistan’s political landscape and the challenges faced by opposition parties in challenging the ruling elite.

The ongoing conflict between Imran Khan and PEMRA will likely have far-reaching implications for media freedom and democratic norms in Pakistan. It remains to be seen how the Lahore High Court will rule on Imran’s petition and whether the ban on his speeches and press talks will be lifted.

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