An odd trick to shut Geo in the making

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Pemra to shut GEO

ISLAMABAD: The Pemra committee that has heard the complaint of the defence ministry against the Geo TV is under immense pressure from some ‘angels’ and is set to send a unique and funny proposal to the Pemra authority that the channel’s license may be suspended, while an opinion be sought from the attorney general whether the ‘authority can function in the absence of its chairman or not’.

It is interesting to note that those in the federal government, who extended a suggestion, did not ponder upon the question that if the AG opined that the authority was incomplete without a chairman and thus could not function, what would be the status of the decision to suspend the channel’s licence.

Also, how a democratic government will justify its decision before the world why the biggest channel in the country was ordered to shut down. However, when responsible circles in the government were contacted, they said that all this may be the point of view of somebody but this was not the correct position and the Constitution and law will be strictly followed before making any decision.

During the Tuesday’s hearing, the counsel for Geo/Jang Group took the plea that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) was incomplete and cannot function, as in the Media Commission Case, the Supreme Court has held that the authority remains incomplete without a chairman and cannot function even under any acting chairman.

Instead of following the clear judgment of the apex court, it is being suggested to the Pemra that the channel’s licence should be suspended and opinion should be sought from the attorney general whether the authority can function without the chairman or not.

There couldn’t be anything more ridiculous than such a suggestion. How could an authority give such a big punishment to a news channel in a democratic country when it is not sure about its own status/legality?

It is important to mention here that a member of the authority who rarely visited the Pemra headquarter earlier, spends nights in the head-office and remains constantly in touch with ‘angels’. He left the Pemra headquarters on Tuesday at around midnight and came early in the morning on Wednesday with a 30-page brief of law points and rules against the Geo TV. He also summoned some members of the Council of Complaints (CoC) on his own for which he was not competent. He is a senior member. All of his activities coincide with his repeated and frequent contacts with the ‘angels’.

However, senior government officials say that the issue cannot be referred to the CoC and the viewpoint of angels’ counsel was incorrect and only the Pemra authority, which comprises learned members, will decide the complaint strictly in accordance with the Constitution, law, rules and regulations. Any midnight mysterious movement will never have a role in decision made by an institution working with democratically-elected government.

Top government officials said that at times even honest officers do not understand professional issues and are unaware of some basic and fundamental concepts like the freedom of expression and at times are influenced by ‘angels’. The officials insisted that sanity will prevail and the rule of law will be upheld in any case, and nobody other than the federal government can give charge of office of chairman Pemra to anybody in any case, adding that now newly appointed executive member will control such people who were running the authority’s headquarters during night time without the permission of the federal government.

The officials said that only the authority of Pemra was empowered to take decisions in regulatory matters and no individual could manoeuvre things simply because of his closeness with ‘angels’.

The Pemra member who is working day and night these days was inducted into the authority during the last regime on the recommendation of a media man and an ex-chairman Pemra, both of whom were close friends. Two people were inducted on their recommendation, one of whom is this man who attends the Pemra office at night these days. This man also remained in politics and was a member of a political party. He and his friends had complaints against Geo/Jang Group. As the current crisis broke out, he openly started speaking against the Geo.

When one of his acquaintances was approached, he said this information about this Pemra member was wrong. He is not such a man. Rather, he is an upright and intelligent person, he said.

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