ISLAMABAD: Authorities on Monday called on broadcasters to refrain from covering dozens of banned groups, including Jamaatud Dawa, the alleged charitable wing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group blamed by the Indians for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The order follows the introduction earlier this year of the National Action Plan against terrorism aimed at reining in militancy inside the country after Taliban gunmen methodically killed more than 150 pupils and staff at the Army Public School in Peshawar in late 2014.
The directive issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) prohibits broadcasters from covering the activities of 72 different outlawed groups, including JuD. The LeT has been blamed for carrying out the attacks in the Indian financial capital in 2008 that killed 166 people.
“All satellite TV channels/FM radio licencees are therefore strictly directed not to give any kind of coverage to any proscribed organisation, including Jamaatud Dawa, Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation, Lashkar-e-Taiba,” Pemra said.
The Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation is tied to the JuD and has participated in flood and earthquake relief in recent years, including operations following last week’s 7.5-magnitude quake that killed 272 people in Pakistan.
The regulatory body said media organisations must refrain from broadcasting any advertisement calling for donations to banned organisations. The directive also prohibits outlets from broadcasting any programme that could potentially incite violence or is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order.
Pemra added that non-compliance would invoke legal action that could result in fines or the potential termination of a broadcaster’s licence. The order was issued following the review of the 20-point National Action Plan.
The TV channels attributed the news to the interior ministry, which denied it, saying that legally it cannot issue any instructions to Pemra. A spokesperson regretted that despite repeated clarifications, news channels were attributing the media blackout instructions to the interior ministry.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2015.