ISLAMABAD – The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Monday imposed a fine on Bol News and ordered it to air an apology for airing hate speech against rights activists with immediate effect.

Pemra, in its 127th meeting, announced the decision on the opinions and recommendations submitted by the joint meeting of the Council of Complaints Sindh and Lahore held on the orders of the Supreme Court regarding complaints against Aamir Liaquat in Bol TV’s programme Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga.

The authority has ordered both the channel and Dr Amir Liaqaut to separately and unconditionally apologise on or before March 31 during the airtime for the program, to all individuals against whom hate speech was aired.

“On or before March 31, 2017, the Channel and Dr. Amir Liaquat, shall separately, during the same time slot of the programme “Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga”, by specifically naming all individual complainants against whom hate speech was aired, apologize unconditionally to the viewers for airing the hate-speech,” the notice reads.

Text to the same effect is also to be displayed on-screen during the entire programme in which the apology will be aired.

“The channel shall also ensure that text to the same effect is also scrolled / displayed on the screen during the entire programme wherein Dr. Amir Liaquat apologizes to the viewers.”

The channel has also been ordered to submit an affidavit by the same date assuring PEMRA that no more hate speech will be aired in the future.

The regulatory authority has also made it clear that any case of failure of the channel or Dr Liquat in meeting these directives will result in the show being banned along with Dr Liquat being disallowed from appearing in any manner on the channel.

Missing activists and social media campaign

Aamir Liaquat’s tirade against the activists and journalists began in the wake of protests and social media campaign against the alleged ‘enforced disappearances’ of social media activists. The anchor hurled baseless accusations against activists for being atheists, “infidels”, “anti-Islam”, “anti-Pakistan” and “RAW agents”.

Responding to Pemra’s earlier action against the show, Lal Masjid’s Shuhada Foundation had said that the action by the Pemra was a move to please the enemies of Islam, the country and the armed forces, saying the decision had hurt the sentiments of Muslims.

In a statement, the All Pakistan Newspapers Society also expressed “profound concern over the incessant trend of unscrupulous outbursts of baseless allegations and hate mongering on a satellite channel against journalists, publishers and editors of newspapers”.

Lawyer and human rights activist Jibran Nasir filed an FIR against TV anchor Aamir Liaquat Hussain and BOL TV network under the Anti-Terrorism Act for intimidating the public and spreading religious hatred.

In his FIR Nasir stated that the anchor and channel were spreading religious hate-mongering and threatening the lives of certain journalists and activists.

Nasir stated that Amir Liaquat, on his show, had without any evidence accused him of being an atheist, a traitor who is an Indian Agent and is working against Pakistan and Pakistan Army, a blasphemer who insults and runs propaganda against Allah, the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W).

“Similar allegations have been levelled against Salman Haider, Ahmed Wacias Goraya, Asim Saeed and Ahmed Raza Naseer, those citizens who have been recently abducted from Islamabad and various cities of Punjab,” he added.

Nasir said that he was being targeted for demanding enforcement of Constitution and rule of law through legal avenues and peaceful protests in relation to recently abducted citizens of Pakistan from Islamabad and various cities of Punjab.

He alleged that Amir Liaqat also aired on his show the faces of Pakistani citizens who participated in the protests for recovery of abducted citizens and declared them traitor and Anti-State elements. He has further declared any Pakistani who is demanding safe recovery of the missing persons as either being a supporter of blasphemy or being a traitor.

“Amir Liaqat on his show also glorified the act of abduction/kidnapping of the missing activist which is an act of terrorism,” Nasir held.