The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday allowed Geo News to air an interview of former Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan.
Ehsan had recently surrendered to the authorities and has since been in military’s custody.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had earlier barred the TV channel from airing the interview saying it would be “heart-wrenching and deeply disturbing for the loved ones of those killed in terrorist attacks to see the member of a terrorist organisation appearing on TV screen.”
The Pemra order was challenged in Islamabad High Court (IHC) by the Independent Media Corporation (IMC), which is a conglomerate of the Jang Group of Newspapers [including Geo News].
Justice Amir Farooq accepted IMC’s appeal and directed Pemra to bring the matter to court, if it feels any of its guidelines would be violated as a result of Ehsan’s interview being aired.
Not too long ago, Pemra Chairman Absar Alam expressed his dissatisfaction with courts “stalling” Pemra’s directives. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, he appealed to Chief Justice Saqib Nisar to expedite legal proceedings that have seen 333 out of 357 notices issued by Pemra challenged and stayed by different courts.
The court delivered its judgement on the matter of Ehsanullah Ehsan’s interview being allowed to air, after hearing arguments from both sides.
IMC’s counsel insisted that Pemra had failed to consider the interview in light of its context and explained to the court that the video interview, recorded in cooperation with the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), was given to Pemra along with an invitation to edit the interview to its satisfaction but Pemra “refused” to do so.
IMC’s counsel added that Geo News was careful not to violate the law, which is why they refrained from airing the interview and took the matter to court instead.
One the aims of airing the interview, IMC’s counsel argued, was to encourage other terrorists to surrender.
Earlier, Pemra had issued the order against the airing of Ehsan’s interview last month after promo of the interview was aired on Geo News.
Pemra had said in a press release that the law did not allow the airing of such interviews and that it had received a large number of complaints expressing anger and anguish over the plan to air Ehsan’s interview.
By: Dawn news