GEO/Jang appeals to PM, CJ to form Supreme Court Commission

GEOKARACHI: Not expecting any justice, fair play or impartiality from PEMRA, GEO/Jang has appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani to form an independent Supreme Court Commission to enquire if Geo News violated terms of its license and whether it has historically been pursuing an anti-Pakistan agenda.

The appeal comprises of six points:

1)PEMRA is full of political appointees who are open to influence from powerful people and institutions.

At stake are vital sensitive issues of national public importance

•The balance between national security interests and the right of people to know the truth.

•The issue of the difference between a patriot and traitor – who in Pakistan is authorized to define what is ‘anti-Pakistan’ and enforce it?

•The regulation of both freedom of speech and the function of security agencies. What are the reasonable restrictions on the freedom of press in relation to the integrity, security and defence of Pakistan or any part thereof? What are the reasonable restrictions on every citizen’s right to have access to information in all matters of public importance? To what extent are the recommendations of Saleem Shahzad Inquiry Commission dated January 10, 2012, implemented and what happened to the enquiries of other journalists who were martyred due to their courageous reporting?

•Internationally and particularly in Pakistan, it is a journalistic norm in the electronic media to flash the picture of relevant persons or locations. Media also repeats the story and footage at regular intervals. This could be a report in the public interest or even a routine story relating to the activities of the President or some other event. The Commission may guide the media in this regard as to what are the acceptable norms.

•They say the army is fighting a war with terrorists and GEO’s reporting is hampering their morale. We would welcome the settlement of this issue by the Commission for the sake of a stronger Pakistan. History tells us that successful nations act as per their laws in war time as they act in times of peace and emerge stronger due to their adherence to the rule of law.

•All these issues are of paramount interest and much is at stake. Perhaps, along with national interest, the national truth and national democracy as well as national rule of law and public interest are at stake.

•Also when the issue in hand is closing down the largest news channel in the country, only a Supreme Court Commission can decide the issues impartially and without fear of pressure and set up legal guidelines and a bench-mark for the future conduct of media in these crucial matters.

2)PEMRA has never in its history decided against the Government of the day. Already the Government has shown a bias against GEO without hearing its defence. The Interior Minister has publically condemned GEO, saying the allegation aired on Geo News about Hamid Mir is a violation of rules and is anti-Pakistan. The Defence Minister has also indicated his stance as the Defence Ministry has sent the ISI complaint to PEMRA.

3)Before even being heard, we have been shut down and our position on television has been moved arbitrarily, as the majority of the nation’s cable operators, especially in DHA and Cantonment and PEMRA could not restore our channels. It appears as it they are involved and are complicit in some conspiracy through fear.

4)The grave, written and public allegation of the ISI against Jang Group of “having a history of furthering anti-Pakistan agenda” is tantamount to being called a traitor and has jeopardized the security of our staff and the very existence of Jang Group which has been serving the nation and its people from the beginning of Pakistan.

5)This grave allegation is not under the ambit of PEMRA to review. It needs to be addressed immediately. We demand that ISI should submit evidence referred to in the complaint letter sent to Defence Ministry and forwarded to PEMRA on April 21, 2014, to the Judicial Commission which can hear our defence and decide if the allegation holds true or has been given in spite.

6)The Jang Group is willing to suffer any punishment, including shut down, if any of these allegations hold true. The truth will make us not break us.

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