ISLAMABAD: Allama Muhammad Tahir Ashrafi, Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council, has strongly opposed banning of any media group, including Geo/Jang Group operations, on any pretext.
He also asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step in immediately to defuse the situation by using his influence over both the media group and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Talking to The News on Thursday, Ashrafi, who is also a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), said, “Things have got too complicated due to a delay in the pacification process, which is not good for the country. Hence, one would advise the government not to allow the issue to further flare up, putting the lives and jobs of employees of the largest media group in danger.”
He asked those protesting against the Geo group to keep their sentiments in control and refrain from harassing the employees of Geo/Jang Group as they belonged to the working class and had no part in decision making of the owners.
“Admittedly, it is a difficult situation for the government as on the one side is the ISI and the army while on the other side it was a vibrant media and it cannot offend anyone of them”.He blamed Pemra for failing to regulate the electronic media in accordance with law, which had brought the issue to the current level.
“This issue was also discussed in the two-day CII meeting as the members strongly condemned the regulatory authority in not taking timely action to defuse the situation,” said Allama Ashrafi.
He said it was unfortunate that the issue of screening a blasphemous/objectionable material was being given sectarian touch instead of resolving it on the basis of relevant rules, adding that if the concerned channel(s) had sought an apology, it should be pardoned. “What the Geo did by displaying the DG ISI’s image on television screen was not permissible but the matter should have been resolved by the authorities concerned there and then in accordance with the law and Pemra rules,” Allama Ashrafi said.
He admitted that the CII could not make any recommendations with regard to the blasphemous material screened by certain channels due to different points of view of different members as some even wanted to skip it.
He said so much so that the report on electronic media activities and Pemra’s legal view were also presented to the CII, which too were not deliberated on the instance of some members.Meanwhile, the CII in its two-day meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday avoided taking up the controversial Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO) although it was on its agenda, inside sources claimed adding that the issue was postponed deliberately.
A source privy to the meeting claimed that the CII Chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani, who is also a senior Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader, wanted to discuss it but as his party was in talks over contentious issues with the government, including the PPO, the issue was not brought on the agenda.
Similarly, on the issue of blasphemous material screened by certain private television channels on which countrywide protests were going on, the CII members were divided and as such no decision was taken.