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This is apropos a letter to the Editor by this writer carried by the newspaper yesterday. In this author’s view, the commission should have also questioned why PEMRA did not act to rein in unscrupulous talk-show hosts who allegedly incited and provoked citizens, contributing to the rise of TLP from a little-known political party to a phenomenon. It should have investigated whether PEMRA took notice of covert censorship, such as advising self-censorship, suppressing independent viewpoints, broadcasting of TLP’s hate mongering and abusive speeches, and the supply of food to protestors by some channels, as well as the stoppage and interruption of certain channels in cantonment and defence housing authority areas.

Additionally, the commission should have explored why the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority did not invoke the Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, to stop the dissemination of hate speech and terrorism through electronic means.

Finally, the commission should have considered the theory that had the government called the army in aid of civil administration under Article 245 of the Constitution much earlier, TLP could have called off the sit-in, potentially saving the nation from mental, physical, and economic agonies.

The report was also expected to delve into the unanimous view of all intelligence agencies that the actual purpose of TLP, which provoked religious sentiment, stoked hatred, resorted to violence, and destroyed property worth 163,952,000 rupees, bringing economic activities to a standstill and inflicting a per day loss of Rs 88,786,180,821 to the economy, was not out of love for our Holy Prophet (PBUH), but to maximize their political mileage by projecting themselves as defenders of the Muslim faith.

It should have addressed whether it was lawful for the election commission to register TLP as a political party when it refused to provide sources of funding, allegedly from a foreign country in the Middle East, and was formed in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan and had engaged in terrorism.

The report should have also examined the inability of the ISI to discover the source of livelihood, place of work, address, funding of TLP leadership, their tax profile, and bank accounts.

It should have highlighted the inability of the Attorney General of Pakistan to quote laws/rules/regulations governing the ISI, indicating that its mandate did not include indulging in politics or media management, whereas the United Kingdom, the United States of America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Norway have clear laws governing their intelligence agencies and have disclosed their respective mandates. The report should have also addressed the question of cash being handed over to TLP’s dharna participants by men in uniform.

QAMAR BASHIR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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