Pakistan media watchdog ordered to monitor 'anti-judiciary' speeches

Lester Mason
April 16, 2018

An accountability court of Islamabad on Monday granted exemption to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz from personal appearance after their failure to turn up owing to bad weather. This gave impression that permission was given for broadcasting anti-judiciary speeches, he stated.

A three-judge bench of the Lahore High Court (HC) was hearing petitions against alleged contemptuous speeches by PML-N leaders since Sharif was ousted from office in a graft case July 28, 2017.

The court directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, or Pemra, to take a call on the petitions filed against the Sharifs within 15 days.

At the previous hearing, Advocate AK Dogar, the former premier's lawyer, objected to inclusion of Justice Atir Mehmood on the bench, saying he had previously remained an office-bearer of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The counsel insisted it appeared that the bench has already made up its mind about the outcome of the case. Justice Naqvi had censured the lawyer, saying the court has yet not summoned him for presenting his arguments.

The political future of Sharif, who leads the country's most powerful political family and his party (PML-N), has been hanging in the balance since then.

Naqvi said that while Article 19 of the Constitution allowed fair criticism of judiciary, not every person should be allowed to criticize it just for the sake of exercising their right to criticize.

PEMRA's counsel Salman Akram Raja told that the authority had rejected the applications. "Instead of taking action, PEMRA sought advice from the judiciary".

Multiple petitions have been filed in different courts against them over alleged contempt of court.

The petitioners pleaded with the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Sharif and his daughter and restrain them from maligning the judiciary.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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