Pemra caught red handed: now what? | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pemra caught red handed: now what?

It is rare that top executives in Pakistan blow the whistle while they are in government service but the Regional General Manager of Pemra in Balochistan has dared to take the plunge and expose the heinous conspiracies and mischievous manipulations going on within his organisation.

He has revealed how plans were made and orders issued to defy the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to commit numerous illegal and criminal acts, to make a mockery of rules and regulations, all just to inflict financial losses on the Jang Group of Newspapers for its crime to show the World Cup and not to let the state-owned PTV bulldoze its way.

The Jang Group has been screaming about all this for weeks before the start of the ICC World Cup. It had been warning that a nefarious plot had been hatched in the top echelons of power. It has been seeking lawful and judicial remedies. It has been crying wolf but some were not prepared to hear these cries of woes. Its warnings turned into real happenings when on the crucial day of the Pakistan-Australia World Cup match the cable operators went on a pre-planned 24-hour strike. It was a conspiracy par excellence. The strike was declared to be against Pemra and the Government. It was a fig leaf, a bit too transparent. The real target was Geo and the Jang Group. All other channels were made to suffer the insult but no one raised any voice as to why they were being denied to air their normal programmes. The sufferers were the people of Pakistan who were deprived of watching normal TV, national and world news. But the real target was Geo Super and the important match on their screens. The moment the World Cup match was over, things started to come back to normal as if nothing had happened.

All this was done in flagrant violation and blatant defiance of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Islamabad High Court orders not to deprive Geo Super of using its legal right of showing the World Cup matches. In sheer arrogance of power, Pemra and the government misled the cable operators into believing that they could get away with murder.

Now the sky has fallen on their heads. The head of Pemra in Balochistan has come out with documents and all his correspondence to prove that he was being pressurised to commit all these crimes and when he resisted, he was punished immediately. He has claimed and is ready to go to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to testify under oath that Pemra had made this plan to damage Geo and Jang Group. He has produced evidence that he tried to implement the orders of the Supreme Court and Pemra stopped him from doing so. He has claimed that he was removed because he refused to commit and abet a crime.

Geo and Jang Group has now been proved right as the top insider of Pemra has spilled the beans but what will happen now is a big question mark. The World Cup is not yet over and has in fact entered a serious and the most important phase when everyone in Pakistan will be waiting for and watching every moment of the action. Pemra has been caught with its pants down and when, and if, a Supreme Court notice is taken, the truth will come out proving that it was not just Pemra but the real masterminds of this crime were sitting in high palatial centres of power. The cable operators will sing when brought before the apex court as to who put them under extreme pressure to commit the crimes.

The revelation of documentary evidence implicating the top Pemra bosses also shows how this important state organisation has been, and is being, misused by a group of politicians headed by some people in the presidency that has personal axe to grind against the biggest media group of the country which has stood for freedom and democracy at all times, against dictators who tried to crush and ruin the Group, against tyrants masquerading as democratically-elected leaders. The Group has paid a heavy price in the past and is determined to fight every attempt to stifle its voice, no matter what the cost. But it is also time that Pemra, like other critically important institutions (Election Commission of Pakistan, NAB, FIA, Ombudsman, Census Bureau and others) be run by a neutral and impartial administration, not under the thumb of the Executive branch.

The question is whether it is just the responsibility of one Group and one organisation to keep on fighting for this objective, these freedoms, while others stay on the sidelines, watching as spectators but jump in as soon as they see they can reap some profit. The entire media in Pakistan, the political parties and the establishment have to pause for a moment and think whether they are serving their own interest by not joining this battle for freedom, by not raising their voice against this targeted persecution. If they continue to remain silent now, even after proof of the wretched conspiracy has come to light, they would not serve the interest of the nation, the cause of freedom and their own personal interest.

Political parties also have a critical role in this fight to preserve media freedom and the right of free expression as enshrined in the Constitution. They have to ensure that laws they make are used fairly and when courts issue orders based on these laws, the orders are implemented. Parliament has to prove that it is not just a rubber stamp and helpless against leaders who have decided to defy the constitution, the courts and all rules and regulations.

The Jang Group will keep on fighting but it hopes and expects that all freedom loving institutions and organisations, people and parties will join hands now that the cat is out of the bag and it has become clear that the government is bent upon bulldozing its way, breaking all laws, trampling upon the rights guaranteed by the highest of courts and the constitution of the country. Let there be open and rapid accountability of the culprits.
Source: The News