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Anchors failing to maintain Ramazan sanctity risk life ban: IHC

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court (IHC) said on Wednesday that anchorpersons indulging in antics not befitting the sanctity of Ramazan risked being banned for life.
Justice Siddiqui made the remarks while hearing a code-of-conduct petition for morning shows and Ramazan broadcasts. The judge said organising games of chance such as lucky draws and distributing Umra tickets went against the spirit of the holy month.
Justice Siddiqui directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to issue notices to anchors Amir Liaquat, Faisal Qureshi, Fahad Mustafa, Sahir Lodhi and Waseem Badami among others on this account. The judge said a lifetime ban would be imposed on them if they failed to respect the sanctity of the holy month.There is zero regard for the ideology of Pakistan and its frontiers, he said. Justice Siddiqui also noted how some were extended a proverbial licence to kill upon joining organisations.Counsel for Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) Ali Zafar said freedom of expression was a fundamental right. He said the Pemra had been officially tasked with regulating television channels. Zafar said the authority was empowered to take action against channels in case of any violations. He said court intervention could convolute matters.
Gauging which channel was broadcasting appropriate content and which was not is the authority’s business, he said. Courts can issue directives if the Pemra fails to effectively discharge its duties, Zafar said.
Justice Siddique said the courts could not be expected to remain silent spectators. He said activities such as lucky draws and dancing were proscribed.
While experts the world over are invited to comment on cricket, models deliver sermons in Ramazan, Justice Siddique said. He said the Pemra should ensure only scholars equipped with PhDs delivered talks on Islamic issues.
The court also ordered the submission of a report on the broadcast of Indian channels in Pakistan. Justice Siddique said those who talked of friendship with India should be branded security risks.
Justice Siddiqui reserved verdict following the conclusion of arguments. A short order will be handed down later.