Faizabad sit-in: Former Pemra chief accuses Gen Faiz Hamid of ‘controlling TV channels’

Faizabad sit-in: Former Pemra chief accuses Gen Faiz Hamid of ‘controlling TV channels’

طوبیٰ Tooba 9 months ago 0 0


A protester throws a tear gas shell back towards police during a clash in Islamabad on Nov 25, 2017. ─ AFP
A protester throws a tear gas shell back towards police during a clash in Islamabad on Nov 25, 2017. ─ AFP
  • Gen Faiz Hamid had been “pressurising” Pemra officials: Absar Alam.
  • Says he had informed then-PM, CJP and army chief about situation.
  • I was asked to take action against Najam Sethi: former Pemra chief.

ISLAMABAD: In his affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court in connection with the infamous Faizabad sit-in review case on Monday, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) former chairman Absar Alam Haider accused then-Director General of Counter Intelligence (DG-C) at the Inter-Services Intelligence Major General Faiz Hamid and his subordinates of controlling the “TV Channel policy” through “unlawful means”.

Multiple pleas were filed challenging the verdict on the Faizabad protest staged by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in 2017 against the then-Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. Last month, the apex court — in response to a series of review petitions submitted against its previous ruling — had said that it would revisit the Faizabad sit-in case. 

The review petitions were filed by the Ministry of Defence, Pemra, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Ejazul Haq and others. 

Surprisingly, as the apex court three-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aminuddin Khan is all set to hear the set of review petitions against the top court’s 2019 order, the federal government, Pemra, Sheikh Rashid, ECP, IB and others decided to withdraw their pleas and submit their responses in writing and explain the reasons behind their decision.

Taking up the set of petitions on September 28, the CJP had expressed his annoyance after many sought to withdraw their review pleas and asked “Why everyone is so scared?”

The top court had directed all the parties to submit their replies by October 27. The top court will resume hearing the petitions on November 1.

In his written reply, Haider said, Pemra officials were under pressure from “serving officers”, adding that he himself “received calls” from the then DG(C) Major General (retd) Hamid and or his subordinates complaining that their requests were not acceded to by him.

“The Applicant-in-Person had been asked to: i) to take action against Najam Sethi a prominent senior journalist; and ii) to completely blackout Hussain Haqqani from TV Channels, however, both illegal/unlawful demands remained unmet,” read the affidavit, seen by Geo News.

According to the ex-Pemra chairman, Gen (retd) Hamid and or his subordinates “controlled TV Channel policy through illegal/unlawful means by changing their numbers and moving them at the tail end, when they refused to follow instructions”. 

He further said that the situation became “untenable” in April 2017, adding that he addressed the matter in writing to then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, then-chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar and then-Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Qamar Bajwa, to inform that due to grave threats by unknown persons to Pemra officials for not following instructions fear had paralysed the latter.

Faizabad sit-in legal saga

This legal saga began on April 15, 2019, when the then-federal government, along with entities like the Defence Ministry, IB, PTI government, AML, MQM-P, and the Pemra, among others, filed review pleas contesting the apex court’s judgement delivered by the incumbent Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa regarding the Faizabad sit-in case.

Earlier on February 6, 2019, a two-member bench of the apex court comprising the now-CJP Isa and Justice Mushir Alam recommended that persons, issuing an edict or fatwa to harm another person or put another person in the harm’s way must be dealt with iron hand and prosecuted under relevant laws.

It also ruled that the intelligence agencies must not exceed their respective mandates. Later, the bench disposed of a suo moto case regarding the 2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the TLP.

The 43-page verdict issued by the two-judge bench and published on the apex court’s website read: “Every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order.

“The right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property.”

In November 2017, the top court took suo motu notice of the three-week-long sit-in, which was held against a change in the finality-of-Prophethood oath, termed by the government as a clerical error, when the government passed the Elections Act 2017.

The sit-in was called off after the protesters reached an agreement with the government.


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