Pemra stops airing of ex-militant leader’s interview
ISLAMABAD: The electronic media regulator has stopped airing of former Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan’s exclusive interview by a private TV channel as the law does not allow portraying a positive image of a terrorist.
A former spokesman for the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and then its breakaway faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Ehsan recently surrendered to the authorities and has since been is in military’s custody.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issued the order against airing of Ehsan’s interview on Thursday noon after promo of the interview was aired on Geo News. The channel had planned to air the interview on Thursday night at 11pm.
Pemra said in a press release that the law did not allow 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.
It recalled that during the last several years, Ehsan had claimed responsibility for mass murder of Pakistani nationals through terrorist activities across the country.
“Thousands of children, men, women, including military officials, lost their lives due to heinous crimes of the TTP and it is 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,” Pemra said.
“Before the situation gets worse, Pemra through an order has prohibited Geo TV from airing the interview of Ehsanullah Ehsan in its programme ‘Jirga’ as well as its promo,” it said.
Pemra has issued the directive under the National Action Plan to counter terrorism and Section 3(3) of the Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015. The TV channel has stopped airing the promo of the interview after receiving the directive.
On Wednesday Ehsan’s five-minute confessional statement was broadcast by all TV news channels and Pemra has clarified that the statement did not glorify terrorism.
“The confessional statement, which has already been released by the investigating agency, gave enough time to a terrorist on the screen. Individual interviews could open doors of camouflaged promotion of a terrorist or terrorist outfit,” Pemra Chairman Absar Alam said.
He said that if one such interview was allowed, then there could be more aspirants to interview terrorists and eventually it could lead to glorifying terrorism.
Pemra also said that any part in the confessional statement of Ehsan released by the Inter Services Public Relations, which in any way glorified a terrorist and his organisation, could not be aired.
It warned that in case of non-compliance of Pemra’s decision, strict action would be taken against violators.