The Pakistan government has decided that media should not be allowed to promote the narrative of convicted or under-trial persons, in a move that aims to curtail the space given by the press to jailed politicians like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari.
A Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to fulfil its “responsibility” to discourage airing of such programmes by the electronic media.
Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood said Khan and members of his Cabinet unanimously decided that no convicted or under-trial prisoner should be given media coverage or allowed to give an interview, Dawn newspaper reported.
“Those who have plundered national wealth and brought the country on the verge of collapse should not be glorified. No democracy permits interviews and media coverage of those who have been arrested on charges of corruption,” Mehmood quoted the prime minister Khan as saying.
Former prime minister Sharif has been serving a seven-year prison term at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore since December 24, 2018 when an accountability court convicted him in the Al-Azizia steel mills corruption case filed in the wake of the apex court's July 28, 2017 order in Panama Papers case.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari was on July 1 arrested in the Park Lane case which is related to his and his families' alleged properties in London.
Zardari was already in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a multi-million dollar money laundering case along with his sister Faryal Talpur.
Mehmood also said the government had not directed Pemra to close down any private TV channel as it was an independent body competent to take its own decisions.
Pemra suspended transmission of three private TV channels for airing an interview of Zardari.
The authority also took off air an interview of the former president which was being conducted by anchor Hamid Mir on July 1 on the premises of the Parliament House, where Zardari came to attend a National Assembly session after the speaker issued his production order.