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Pakistan media watchdog bans live coverage outside court ahead of Imran Khan’s hearing

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Teargas canisters placed on Imran Khan's table during his speech, which he claims were fired by the police into his home. [File Photo]

Pakistan’s electronic media watchdog on Saturday banned satellite television channels from broadcasting live coverage of events outside the Islamabad court where former Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to appear, PTI reported.

Khan, the 70-year-old chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, is scheduled to appear before the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zafar Iqbal to attend proceedings on the complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for allegedly concealing details of gifts in his assets declarations.

In an advisory issued Saturday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) stated that it has been observed with concern that satellite TV channels are showing live footage and images of a violent mob, and attacks on police and law enforcement agencies.

“Such footage/images were seen on TV screens without any editorial oversight during a recent standoff between political party workers and law enforcing agencies in Lahore wherein, a violent mob used petrol bombs, injuring armless policemen and blazing police vehicles. The live telecast of such footage on different satellite TV channels created chaos and panic among the viewers and Police.”

The PEMRA letter said that such activism by the mob not only jeopardises the law and order situation but also makes public properties and lives vulnerable.

The airing of such content violates a judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the media regulator said.

According to a statement, PEMRA referred to the clashes between PTI workers and law enforcement personnel outside Khan’s Zaman Park residence, saying it had “observed with concern” that satellite TV channels were “showing live footages (sic) /images of a violent mob, attacks on police and law enforcing agencies”.

Pemra, in its order, said that it has prohibited live/recorded coverage of any kind of rally, public gathering, or procession by any party, organisation and individual for March 18, including from the judicial complex, Islamabad.

Earlier, PTI workers and police clashed for nearly 24 hours as Zaman Park virtually had became a battleground, with the law enforcers trying to get through supporters and arrest Khan, who was voted out as the prime minister last April.

Scores of people, including police personnel and PTI workers were injured in the process as the law enforcers fired teargas and party supporters resorted to throwing Molotov cocktails.

Legal proceedings against Khan began after he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote early last year.

Since then, he has held nationwide protest rallies demanding a snap election, during one of which he was shot and wounded.

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