Geo must not lose courage after licence suspension: Javed Jabbar
ISLAMABAD: On the decision of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to suspend Geo News licence for 15 days, former information minister and Member of Supreme Court Media Commission, Javed Jabbar has said that Geo Group should not lose courage after the one-sided decision taken by Pemra.
In a special talk with The News, Geo, Jabbar said that the closure of Geo News was a disappointing and extraordinary incident in the country’s history. But, such decisions could not suppress the right to freedom of expression, he stated.
He questioned legality of the covert steps taken against Jang Group and Geo. He further asked whether to threaten the biggest media group of the country, burning its cars, and newspaper copies, or using force to close down the transmission was injustice or not.
Javed Jabbar said that Pemra had the legal authority to suspend licence of any TV channel, but this prerogative should be used with extreme caution.He opined that before making such a big decision, Pemra officials should have given a chance to Geo News to clarify its position. If the decision had been made after considering the stance of Geo News, it would have been appropriate, he said.
He further said that Geo, Jang Group should challenge the Pemra decision in the court, for the authority, transgressing its powers, had given an extremely inappropriate judgment.Jabbar noted that after assuming the charge of acting Pemra Chairman, Pervez Rathore should have issued notices to all the members and parties (Geo, Defence Ministry) for an adequate time, and should have heard the parties once again to analyse the acts done by secret hands against Geo and Jang Group. Calling the meeting of Pemra overnight and suspending the licence of country’s biggest news channel was beyond understanding, he remarked.
He viewed that the way in which Jang Group and Geo were being assaulted after the Defence Ministry and ISI complained before Pemra, the authority should have included this element in the verdict, and added that what was done to Geo News after Pemra’s former explanatory show-cause notice, was totally an unconstitutional measure as such decision did not suit the status of acting Pemra chairman.
He said that he had reservations about the Geo News transmission after attempt on life of Hamid Mir, but the attack itself was very much condemnable. What was done with Geo after the incident was unprecedented.