Faizabad strike: Former Pemra chief accuses General Faiz Hamid of ‘controlling TV channels’

A protester throws tear gas towards police during a clash in Islamabad on November 25, 2017.  ─ AFP
A protester throws tear gas towards police during a clash in Islamabad on November 25, 2017. ─ AFP
  • General Faiz Hamid was putting “pressure” on Pemra officials: Absar Alam.
  • It is said that he had informed the then PM, CJP and the Army Chief about the situation.
  • I was asked to take action against Najam Sethi: Former Pemra chief.

ISLAMABAD: In his affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday in connection with the infamous Faizabad sit-in review case, former Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman Absar Alam Haider accused the then Director General Counter Intelligence (DG-C) of failing to do so. Major General Faiz Hamid of the Inter-Services Intelligence and his subordinates are accused of controlling “TV channel policy” through “illegal means”.

Several petitions were filed against the then Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) challenging the decision on the Faizabad protests in 2017. Last month, the apex court – in response to a series of review petitions submitted against its previous judgment – ​​had said it would reconsider the Faizabad strike case.

The review petitions were filed by the Defense Ministry, Pemra, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami Muslim League (AML). Chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Ijazul Haq and others.

Surprisingly, a three-member bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, comprising Justices Athar Minallah and Justice Aminuddin Khan, on the set of review petitions against the apex court’s 2019 order Fully ready for hearing. The federal government, Pemra, Sheikh Rasheed, ECP, IB and others decided to withdraw their pleas and give their response in writing and explain the reasons behind their decision.

While hearing several petitions on September 28, the CJP had expressed his displeasure after several people demanded withdrawal of their review petitions and asked “Why is everyone so scared?”

The top court had directed all the parties to file their replies by October 27. The top court will resume hearing the petitions on November 1.

In his written reply, Haider said Pemra officials were under pressure from “serving officers”, adding that he himself had “received calls” from the then DG(C) Major General (retd) Hamid and or his subordinates, in which Complaints were made that their requests were not met. Accepted by him.

“The applicant-person was asked: i) to take action against Najam Sethi, a prominent senior journalist; and ii) To completely blackout Hussain Haqqani from TV channels, however, both the illegal/unlawful demands were not met,” read the affidavit, which was accessed by geo news,

According to the former Chairman of PEMRA, General (Retd) Hamid and or his subordinates “when they refused to follow the instructions, they violated the TV channel policy by illegal/unlawful means by changing their numbers and taking them to the last mile. controlled”.

He further said that as the situation became “untenable” in April 2017, he addressed the matter in writing to then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, then Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and then Army Chief General (retd) Qamar Bajwa. , to inform that PEMRA officials were paralyzed by fear due to serious threats by unknown persons for not following instructions.

Faizabad strike legal saga

The legal saga began on April 15, 2019, when the then federal government, along with entities like the Defense Ministry, the IB, the PTI government, AML, MQM-P and Pemra, filed a review petition against the apex court’s decision. The verdict given by outgoing Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa in the Faizabad protest case.

Earlier on February 6, 2019, a two-member bench of the apex court, now comprising CJP Isa and Justice Musheer Alam, had recommended that there be no provision for issuing a fatwa or a fatwa for causing harm to another person or causing harm to another person. Those people should be dealt with. Strict action was taken and prosecution was conducted under relevant laws.

It also ruled that intelligence agencies should not exceed their respective mandates. Later, the bench disposed of the suo motu case regarding the 2017 Faizabad sit-in by TLP.

The 43-page judgment issued by a two-judge bench and published on the apex court’s website said: “Every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest, provided that such assembly and protest is peaceful and without reasonable restrictions. The imposing law should be complied with.” Interest of public order.

“The right to assemble and protest is limited only to the extent that it violates the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to keep and enjoy property.”

In November 2017, the apex court took suo motu cognizance of a three-week-long strike that was organized against the change in the Prophet’s final oath, which it termed a clerical error when the government passed it . Election Act 2017.

The protest was ended after the protesters reached an agreement with the government.

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