PEMRA bans BOL News talk show ‘Meri Jang’ over hate speech

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Pakistan’s media watchdog, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is known for running a tight ship when it comes to regulating the country’s media landscape. It’s swift in dispensing justice whenever it gets hold of someone violating its code of conduct. Its axe has recently, fallen on Bol News political talk show ‘Meri Jang’, hosted by anchorperson Noorul Arfeen Siddiqui, which has been taken off air for 30 days.

A screengrab of PEMRA press release announcing the ban.

Bol News alleged that the show was taken down by Chairman PEMRA in reprisal to the channel’s coverage of the recent controversy surrounding Minister for Science and Technology, Mr. Fawad Hussain Chaudhry and Director, BOL News Network, Sami Ibrahim.

However a closer look at the content of the show ‘Meri Jang’ on June 15, 2019 that led to the ban tells a different story.

During the the show, the anchorperson Noorul Arfeen Siddiqui touched upon many controversial topics and his choice of words for the elected representatives of the country, including the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan was unflattering and in bad taste.

He, rather than conducting his show in an objective and non-partisan manner, resorted to ridiculing and vilifying the national leaders. He also made several judgmental remarks that portrayed them as being involved in monetary and moral corruption as well as blaspheming against Islam and the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

“Are you the Mufti-e-Azam of Pakistan?” The anchorperson shouted, addressing the Prime Minister, Imran Khan whose recent remarks about Islamic battles were widely perceived as being controversial.

This matter is no less serious than the Aasia Bibi case”, he said, implying that the PM had committed a serious blasphemy which could land him on the death row like the Christian peasant woman who spent 9 years in prison over blasphemy charges before being finally acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Right now you are the Prime Minister, but what will happen once you are no more the PM”, Noorul Arfeen said, although he ‘clarified’ that he is not threatening the Prime Minister.

Blasphemy is a very sensitive matter in Pakistan where such allegations have triggered violence and mob lynching against the accused in the past.  That is why, media analysts and citizens have been urging media persons to conduct themselves more responsibly while on-air.

We leave upon our readers to decide if the ban is justified.

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