Senate body seeks report on cases registered against 11 Balochistan newspapers

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The Senate’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Monday sought report of terrorism cases registered against 11 newspapers of Balochistan, reiterating that no one could curtail the freedom of press in the body’s presence.

The meeting of the standing committee, which was presided over by its chairman Senator Kamil Ali Agha, was held at the Parliament House.

The Senate body said some invisible forces were behind bans and cases registered against the media including a private TV channel and the committee would search for the truth.

The committee discussed the case filed by the Balochistan government under the Terrorism Act against private TV channel, ARY.

The Balochistan information secretary told the committee that the private channel aired the footage of attack on Quaid-e-Azam Residency in Ziarat by the miscreants of a banned outfit. He that the decision of filing the case against the TV channel was made in a high-level meeting presided over by the Balochistan chief secretary. He said the case against 11 newspapers was filed for publishing the perspective of the banned outfits, adding that the cases were filed after a decision of the Balochistan High Court, adding that if they did not follow the orders of courts, the courts would summon them and seek explanations.

Expressing concerns over the viewpoint of the provincial information secretary, the members of the Senate body said the Terrorism Act could not be applied without the permission of senior officials.

Senator Farhatullah Babar asked if the media aired the perspective of some banned organisations, did it become the organisations’ accomplice? He said it seemed some invisible force had filed the cases and urged the committee to search them out.

The committee members were of the view that the freedom of press could not be curbed and directed that a code of conduct be devised after mutual consultations.

During the meeting, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) chairman told the committee that show-cause notices were served on seven TV channels including Geo News and Dawn News on airing programmes against the Pakistan Army and the judiciary and a fine of Rs 1 million per channel had been imposed on 15 TV channels for showing foreign contents and violating PEMRA rules and regulations.

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