LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and Additional Attorney-General Naseer Ahmed Bhutta to implement a ban on the broadcast of images and speeches of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain across all electronic and print media starting today.
A three-judge LHC bench headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and comprising Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu and Justice Erum Sajjad Gull was hearing separate cases initiated by Advocate Aftab Virk, Abdullah Malik and others against the MQM supremo.
A petition filed by Advocate Aftab Virk in the LHC earlier this year pleaded that the ‘anti-army’ remarks made by Altaf Hussain fell under the category of treason, and that a treason case should be registered against him.
A petition filed by advocates Abdullah Malik, Aftab, Maqsood and others, called for a lifetime ban on the live telecast of Altaf Hussain’s speeches, maintaining the MQM leader was in violation of Article 5 which asks for showing loyalty to the state and obedience to the constitution, and that a case of treason should be registered against Altaf under Article 6 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Last week, the bench heard petitions filed by Virk, Malik and others seeking a ban on the media coverage of Altaf Hussain’s speeches because of his alleged remarks against state institutions, including the army and Rangers.
The petitioners had argued that Altaf was a British national and no foreign citizen could head a political party in Pakistan under the Political Parties Act. He had no right to deliver speeches on television channels in Pakistan, they had said.
The bench adjourned the case until Sept 18, and directed the Interior Ministry secretary to verify Altaf Hussain’s nationality and Director-General Operations Pemra to report on whether the ban on the broadcast of MQM chief’s images and speeches had been implemented.
During last week’s hearing, a law officer had informed the court that Pemra had already banned the live telecast of Altaf Hussain’s speeches.