Pakistan's electronic media watchdog on Saturday banned satellite television channels from broadcasting live coverage of events outside the Islamabad court where former prime minister Imran Khan is set to appear in a corruption case against him.
Khan, the 70-year-old chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, is scheduled to appear before the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zafar Iqbal to attend proceedings on the complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for allegedly concealing details of gifts in his assets declarations.
In an advisory issued Saturday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) stated that it has been observed with concern that satellite TV channels are showing live footage and images of a violent mob, and attacks on police and law enforcement agencies.
"Such footage/images were seen on TV screens without any editorial oversight during a recent standoff between political party workers and law enforcing agencies in Lahore wherein, a violent mob used petrol bombs, injuring armless policemen and blazing police vehicles. The live telecast of such footage on different satellite TV channels created chaos and panic among the viewers and Police."
The Pemra letter said that such activism by the mob not only jeopardises the law and order situation but also makes public properties and lives vulnerable. “The airing of such content violates a judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” the media regulator said.
According to a statement, Pemra referred to the clashes between PTI workers and law enforcement personnel outside Khan's Zaman Park residence, saying it had observed with concern that satellite TV channels were showing live footages (sic) /images of a violent mob, attacks on police and law enforcing agencies.
Pemra, in its order, said that it has prohibited live/recorded coverage of any kind of rally, public gathering, or procession by any party, organisation and individual for March 18, including from the judicial complex, Islamabad.
The regulator further said that the license will be suspended in case of non-compliance with the order.
Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.