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Double Standards?: PEMRA Had Refused To Ban Musharraf’s Interviews Last Year

In the light of a directive by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) that denies airtime to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for being an absconder, journalist Hamid Mir shared a year-old notification by the authority, wherein it had refused to impose a ban on former president Pervez Musharraf, also a proclaimed offender, citing Article 19 (freedom of speech) of the constitution.

The directive was issued by PEMRA last year when a lawyer moved the body seeking a ban on Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri and military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

At the time, it said that only MQM founder Altaf Hussain has ‘been banned from appearing on television’ in the light of an order by the Lahore High Court while calling his case an ‘exception’.

On Thursday, addressing a meeting of the PML-N’s Central Working Committee (CWC) via video link, the former prime minister said he was pained to see the state of affairs in the country. He said the poor were unable to afford food and send their children to school.

“You have destroyed Pakistan in every field,” he said while addressing the government, and asked where the 10 million jobs were that it had promised to the people.

During the address, Nawaz reiterated that those who brought Imran Khan to power have stolen people’s mandate. “Where are the people who brought you into power? They should answer to the nation as well.”

The former PM added that the opposition’s fight was not against PM Imran Khan. “We don’t give any importance to him. He is a selected prime minister that you have imposed upon this country.

He said it was difficult to stay silent due to the state of affairs prevalent in Pakistan. “And no one should try to shut me up. Because I won’t,” he added.

Speaking about the irregularities in the 2018 general elections, the PML-N supreme leader said the PTI was brought to power by coercing independent candidates into joining the ruling party and breaking away the votes of smaller political groups. He said Imran Khan became the prime minister by a majority of “only four votes”.

“Who were the people of the tractor [election symbol]?” he asked, before answering himself: “These were the people who brought the [PTI] into power.”

The former prime minister also alluded to a statement made by an Islamabad High Court judge during a hearing earlier this week. The judge had said that Nawaz Sharif managed to go abroad for medical treatment after ‘defeating the system’.

In reference to the statement, Nawaz asked whether he could expect justice in his case after such comments by a judge. “And what justice did we get before? Why was that colonel visiting the court of [accountability judge] Mohammad Bashir again and again?” he questioned.

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