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PEMRA warns TV channels not to air content against state institutions

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  • PEMRA directs any content against institutions should not be aired.
  • Body says despite repeated directives TV channels continue to violate them.
  • It warns of taking action against those violating directives.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Monday warned TV channels, directing them to refrain from telecasting any content against the state institutions.

The regulatory body directed that any content either recorded or produced under the channels’ banner or aired during a live speech or a press talk against institutions should not be aired.

PEMRA, in its statement, said that despite repeated directives, TV channels continue to violate them.

“There remains no ambiguity in our minds with regards to the laxity of the licensees in ensuring compliance with the Code of Conduct and of PEMRA as a regulatory authority in penalising licensees on account of any violations of the Code of Conduct,” read the statement. 

“If voluntary violations of the Code of Conduct or even negligence by the licensees to ensure adherence thereto is not penalised by PEMRA, the Code of Conduct will be reduced to a mere paper tiger and be rendered absolutely redundant. We, therefore, issue a writ of mandamus to PEMRA to ensure that the following parameters laid down in the law and the Code of Conduct are adhered to in letter and spirit and that no violations thereof shall be tolerated by PEMRA.”

  • The Code of Conduct ensures that the freedom of speech and the right to information (Articles 19 and 19A of the Constitution) are protected, and at the same time provides that the discussion of sub-judice matters must be conducted in a manner which does not negatively affect another person’s fundamental right to be dealt with in accordance with the law (Article 4 of the Constitution) and the right to a fair trial and due process (Article 10A of the Constitution).
  • All licensees should be sent a notice/reminder of their basic ethics and objectives, standards and obligations under the Code of Conduct, particularly Clause 4(10) thereof, in that, editorial oversight should be observed prior to the airing of all programmes and any programme, the subject or content of which is found or deemed to be in violation of the Code of Conduct in its true letter and spirit, should not be aired by the licensee; 
  • Any discussion on a matter which is sub judice may be aired but only to the extent that it is to provide information to the public which is objective in nature and not subjective, and no content, including commentary, opinions or suggestions about the potential fate of such sub judice matter which tends to prejudice the determination by a court, tribunal, etc., shall be aired; 
  • While content based on extracts of court proceedings, police records and other sources are allowed to the extent that they are fair and correct, any news or discussions in programmes shall not be aired which are likely to jeopardise ongoing inquiries, investigations or trials; 
  • In compliance with Clause 5 of the Code of Conduct, all licensees should strictly ensure that an effective delaying mechanism is in place for broadcasting live programmes to ensure stern compliance with the Code of Conduct and Articles 4, 10A and 204 of the Constitution; 
  • In compliance with Clause 17 of the Code of Conduct, an impartial and competent in-house Monitoring Committee shall be formed by each licensee, with intimation to PEMRA which shall be duty bound to ensure compliance with the Code of Conduct; 
  • With regards to the Monitoring Committee, we direct that licensees include (for each of its meetings) at least one practising lawyer of at least 5 years or above practice, with an adequate understanding of the law to advise the licensee regarding any potential violations of the Code of Conduct by programmes to be aired in the future;
  • In compliance with Clause 20 of the Code of Conduct, each licensee shall be required to hold regular training of its officers, employees, staff, anchors, representatives etc. with regards to ensure compliance with the Code of Conduct with the schedule and agenda of these regular training to be intimated to PEMRA through the Monitoring Committee; 
  • If any licensee is found to have violated or failed to observe the Code of Conduct in its true letter and spirit, particularly Clause 4 of thereof, and/or Articles 4, 10A and 204 of the Constitution, strict and immediate action should be taken against such a licensee in accordance with Section 33 of the Ordinance. The Supreme Court or any High Court retains the power to take cognizance of the matter and shall exercise its powers under Article 204 ibid where such Court is of the opinion that it is appropriate in the facts and circumstances of the case for it to do so; 

The regulatory body further said that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has also directed PEMRA to “ensure proper utilisation of the prescribed procedure regarding delay mechanism.”

It also observed that the TV channels telecast “unwarranted/objectionable views” without editorial control and utilising effective time delay mechanisms which could expunge undesirable statements maligning state institutions.

The body, in its statement, said that the rights given to the media are subject to reasonable restrictions in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution or any law. 

It further added that the airing of hateful statements violates Article 19, directing the licensees to implement the Supreme Court of Pakistan order passed in Suo Moto Case No 28 of 2018.

The authority decided that the maximum time delay mechanism for live content is deployed, an editorial board or monitoring committee is constituted and. 

The regulatory body also directed the licensees to stop live telecasts of content/programmes and should implement para 2 and 7, adding that action will be taken against those violating the directives.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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