Govt seeks SC gag order on media again -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Govt seeks SC gag order on media again

Usman Manzoor

ISLAMABAD: The Zardari-Gilani-led government on Monday sought a gag order against the media from the Supreme Court in the NRO implementation case. The PPP government sought this through none other than the Principal Law Officer of the country, who has been recently appointed by Prime Minister Gilani, primarily because of having a history of uttering venom against the present judiciary, but the court by rejecting the plea as well as a similar request by Zardari’s legal czar Aitzaz Ahsan on the previous hearing, has ensured the freedom of the press as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan.

The PPP government, which is openly defying the Supreme Court’s judgment, has sought curbs on the media from the apex court in two consecutive hearings, first through Aitzaz Ahsan and later through Irfan Qadir but to no avail.

It is a strange development that the prosecutor (Irfan Qadir) and the defence lawyer (Aitzaz Ahsan), in the contempt case proceedings against the prime minister for non-implementation of the NRO judgment are on the same page against the media and have demanded curbs on the media from the court in two consecutive hearings. The newly-appointed Attorney General, Irfan Qadir, requested the Supreme Court to take notice of what the media is reporting, and interestingly, this time too, he had problems with a ‘section of the media’. He said that tickers were being run on television against the constitutional institutions of the country, but the court was not taking any notice of it. He also pointed out that an observation, made by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, was also flashed on channels. When was asked by the judges that against which institution any observation was passed. Irfan replied, the Prime Ministerís House is also a constitutional institution, and media is also hurling filth on the institution of Presidency.

He was told by the judges not to discuss what was being run on channels in the court, but he continued uttering his venom against a certain ‘section of media’. Irfan Qadir said one television channel was doing this. “Aitzaz sahib had also complained to you (judges) about malicious reporting, but you did not take any notice,î Qadir continued saying. He was asked by the bench to sit down many times and when he sat down, he shook his head in anger clearly depicting his ambitions, but the bench kept its cool.

It is worth mentioning here that on Friday last, Aitzaz Ahsen had demanded the same restraining order against the same ‘section of media’ what the attorney general demanded on Monday. Aitzaz Ahsan vented his fury at the media in last hearing but was refused a judicial gag order against The News from the Supreme Court. He also warned that writing against him may cost journalists their jobs.

Despite his repeated insistence, the Supreme Court told Aitzaz that no restraining order will be passed. He then told the court that he was considering suing The News for Rs800 to Rs900 million and intoned that the journalists of this newspaper will end up losing their jobs.

Not only on Friday but a few week ago, Aitzaz had blamed that a ‘certain section of media’ was propagating against him and admitted that the same ‘certain section of media’ was his favourite during the historic movement for the restoration of judiciary.

In his press talk outside the Supreme Court building Aitzaz alleged that there is a ‘certain section of media’ which is continuously and deliberately misrepresenting his arguments and was exaggerating the facts. When asked by the journalists to name this ‘certain section of media’ Aitzaz first said that he will not name anyone but later added that everyone knows who they are and towards which ‘certain section of media’ he was pointing to. A journalist asked Aitzaz whether this certain section of media was the same section, which was his favourite during the movement for the restoration of judiciary, Aitzaz replied, “Yes,” and instantly added “But, I don’t know what has happened to them now.”

The News