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    Monday, May 8, 2017

    PEMRA chief fears for his and staff's lives, calls for security

    Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Chairman Absar Alam urged the higher authorities on Monday to take notice of the threats being received by the media watchdog and provide security to him and his staff.


    “It’s becoming increasingly difficult for Pemra to continue performing its duties in these conditions,” he said at a press conference in Islamabad.
    “I request the prime minister, the chief justice of Pakistan and the army chief to take notice of this situation and ensure that my team members and I are provided with adequate security,” he added
    The Pemra chief said his organisation was receiving threatening phone calls.
    During the press conference, Alam played the audio recording of a threatening phone call a Pemra employee had received after a TV news channel was taken off air.
    In the recording, the unknown caller appeared to be pressurising the employee to restore the transmission of the channel in five minutes, warning otherwise of serious consequences.
    “There are many TV news channels and anchors poisoning the society with malignant content,” Alam observed. “We are criticised by both the conservative and liberal segments when courts grant a stay on the cases we take up related to the code of conduct,” he added.
    Alam said Pemra had taken action on 357 complaints lodged with it but they were challenged in 337 courts.
    “High courts are even granting stay on the show-cause notices issued by the authority,” he added.
    The Pemra chief said the authority was committed to fulfilling its duty of blocking content which was against the spirit of the National Action Plan and Operation Radd-ul-Fasad.
    “Pemra’s powers are being curtailed and restricted,” he maintained.
    The Pemra chief asserted that all federal institutions were bound to assist and cooperate with the authority as and when required as per Section 33-A of the regulations.
    “I have requested the prime minister and the chief justice of Pakistan to help the authority in enabling it to perform its duties properly,” he added.
    Alam said he could put up with the criticism aimed at him but tolerate attempts to taint Pemra’s reputation.
    “I have faced criticism despite the fact that I paid Rs8.2 million in income tax last year.”
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