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Parliamentarian wants anchors banned for levelling baseless accusations

ISLAMABAD: A lengthy debate on the conflict of interest ensued during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage when one of the members said an anchorperson has levelled baseless allegations against him.

PML-N’s Waseem Akhtar Sheikh, who is a member of the committee, wanted to talk about how an anchorperson on Channel 24 had conducted a show against him but the matter was not part of the agenda for the meeting.
─Waseem Akhtar Shiekh MNA

He said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) council of complaints has fined the anchorperson Rs1 million, which Mr Sheikh said was not enough.

“It has become routine for the electronic media to conduct character assassinations and Pemra just concludes the issue after only fining them Rs500,000 or Rs1 million. We have families and we have to marry off our daughters in respectable families. We cannot afford to have baseless accusations levelled against us, because once that happens, it is impossible to convince people, especially families that there is no truth to the allegations,” he said.
MNA says electronic media resorts to character assassination while Pemra’s imposition of fines is insufficient

He suggested Pemra ban those anchorpersons who are found guilty of wrongly accusing someone a couple of times.

“There should be a law on this issue and the committee should take up the matter because irresponsible reporting should not be tolerated,” he added.

However, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) legislator Murad Saeed said that though he does believe that reporting should be more responsible, there will be a conflict of interest if a member of the committee takes up a matter directly related to them.

“[Mr Sheikh] should file a privilege motion or go to court. We should not directly call owners of media houses because it will become a matter of embarrassment as we will be stepping outside of our mandate,” he said.

The chairman of the committee, Mohammad Aslam Bodla said the committee should take action on a complaint made by one of its members.

Another PTI legislator, Azhar Jadoon, said the committee should follow the rules so that no one can question its proceedings. Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) legislator Naeema Kishwar Khan supported Mr Sheikh’s argument and said a fine of Rs1 million is not enough punishment for tarnishing someone’s reputation.

Mr Sheikh said the committee was one of the highest forums in the country and that all related matters should be brought here.

When the chairperson sought comments from the ministry, Information Secretary Saba Mohsin Raza said it would be better if the matter was included in the agenda and that the issue will be taken up as per the guidance of the committee. She said there was a need to amend Pemra rules.

Mr Bodla then said the issue will be discussed in the committee and will be included on the agenda for the next meeting.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Sheikh said that during a program aired on Sept 21, anchor person Mubashar Lucman had alleged that Mr Sheikh had occupied the land of a graveyard and also transferred the land of a deceased person to himself.

“I took the matter to Pemra’s council of complaints and they fined him Rs1 million. I have decided to file a suit of damages of Rs100 million and want a ban imposed on him because the allegations were baseless,” he said.

However, Mr Lucman’s producer, Rao Awais told Dawn that the allegations were levelled based on proof, which they had. He said resident of the area had also protested against Mr Sheikh which was also shown during the programme.

The matter of PNCA’s missing paintings

During the meeting, PML-N legislator Arifa Khalid Pervez said parliamentarians should be included in the inquiry committee probing the issue of the paintings which were stolen from the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).

PNCA Director General Jamal Shah said the inquiry was almost complete and that a report will be sent to members of the committee.

“However, if members have any reservations, they can conduct their own inquiries,” he said.

Some paintings went missing when the PNCA’s belongings were being moved from F-7 to its current location in 2007.

courtesy : dawn news

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