Posts Tagged ‘PEMRA’

PEMRA Regulation – Problems and Distractions

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

PEMRAAn article by Ansar Abbasi in The News (Jang Group) about the recent notification of PEMRA’s Content Regulations 2012 appears to have caught the eye of the PM. The article criticises PEMRA for ‘ignoring’ “Islam, the Islamic values, the Ideology of Pakistan and even the integrity of the institution of defence and armed forces”. After reading the article, The News reported on Sunday, the PM felt moved to review the regulations. Unfortunately, this entire discussion is missing the point.

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First let me say that obviously we do not condone any defamation of Islam, the ideology of Pakistan, or the integrity of the state or national institutions. But there are two important reasons why is is not newsworthy that PEMRA did not include restrictions on these in its Content Regulations 2012.

First is that the Constitution of Pakistan, in Article 19, clearly addresses these issues already.

Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offence.

As the Constitution has already addressed these issues and directed that any resonable restrictions should be “imposed by law”, it is therefore up to the democratically elected Members of the National Assembly and Senate to draft, pass, and put into force such restrictions. Even if the Constitution did grant PEMRA authority to impose such restrictions, it would be redundant as the Constitution has already addressed this.

More to the point, however, is the simple fact that, Abbasi saab’s Ghairatmand chest-thumping notwithstanding, there is no evidence of media attacking Islam, Islamic values, the Ideology of Pakistan and even the institution of defence and armed forces.

It should be noted that each of the recent media incidents that offended the religious and nationalistic sensibilities of the people occurred in foreign media – not Pakistani media. Whether it was an offensive Facebook page, a blasphemous YouTube video, or an embarrassing BBC documentary, none of these were produced by any media subject to PEMRA’s authority. In other words, Abbasi saab has given himself a stomach ache due to a problem that does not exist.

That is not to say that the media does not have problems. Ansar Abbasi himself has been the subject of criticism by the judiciary for spreading conspiracy theories on the word of “incorrigible liars…of little character and credibility”. Similarly, Jang journalist Muhammad Saleh Zaafir found himself called before the Court and forced to offer unconditional apology for spreading false rumours and insinuations against the judiciary. Even more recently, Daily Jang was found publishing the most ridiculous conspiracy theories, all of which were proven wrong mere days later.

Pakistan media has many issues that need to be addressed – non-payment of salaries, lack of fact checking, conspiracy theories, sectarianism, personal attacks, and political operatives masquerading as ‘investigative journalists’ are rampant and unchecked in the media industry. These are real problems that exist. Media attacks on Islam or the national defence would be serious issues – if they existed. We should be proud that they do not. Instead of wasting the time of PEMRA, the PM and everyone else, we should focus on the real issues facing media today.

PEMRA should not confuse satire with defamation

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

PEMRAChasing the coat tails of public outcry over Maya Khan’s infamous show, PEMRA has finally taken notice of undesirable media practices. According to a report in The News (Jang Group), PEMRA has stated that it intends to curb not only programmes that invade personal privacy, but satire also.

The authority also reiterated its resolve to curb the derogatory and defamatory satirical programmes aired by many channels in the guise of parody that are inadvertently being used for demeaning and defaming dignitaries.

Defamation is defined under Article 3 of the Defamation Ordinance 2002 requires that “a false statement or representation”. The reason for defamation laws, which are common throughout the world, is to prevent the spread of malicious and vindictive lies to damage someone’s reputation.

Satire is something very different. Satire is the use of irony, sarcasm, and humour to highlight folly with the intention of making an editorial point. It is an ancient art form practiced all over the world, often to point out the mistakes and misbehaviour of elite and powerful figures in society. Satire is inherently promoting a particular opinion or perspective, and is usually considered a specially protected form of free speech.

Examples of satire include many of Nadeem Paracha’s columns for Dawn, Beygairat Brigade song ‘Aalu Anday’

and Aaj TV‘s 4 Man Show

These programmes are not presenting false representations to defame or demean anyone. They are merely using humour to highlight the eccentricities and particularities of prominent issues and persons in society. Just because someone is a dignitary or has achieved a high reputation, it does not mean that they are flawless. Actually, many argue that the more influence a person or institution has, the more important it is to scrutinise them so that they live up to the expectations that society places on them.

PEMRA does not need to curb satirical programmes, which are part and parcel of a healthy debate and discussion in society. Rather, the regulatory agency needs to curb the false and defamatory information that is all too common in news reports. Rather than crack down on satire, PEMRA should issue guidelines about biased reporting and publishing opinions and viewpoints outside the clearly labeled spaces for such views so that readers and viewers clearly know when they are being presented with facts and when they are being presented with someone’s personal opinion.

Geo Projecting Terrorism?

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Earlier this year, PEMRA fined two TV channels for projecting terrorists/outlaws when they aired an interview with the assassin Mumtaz Qadri. Now, the following advertisement is being made by Geo TV.

Hafiz Saeed interview on GEO

Notice that the Lashkar-e-Taiba founder is quick to say, “we are against all sorts of terrorism.” Of course sympathisers will claim that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is but a humble charity organisation. But if this is true, why in his next breath does he claim “we are the A-team of the Army” that is “against US invasions”? And here we thought that SSG was A-team of the Army. What type of charity organisation claims to be militant commandoes?

The important question here, though, is why Geo TV is inviting as its guest Hafiz Saeed who is classified as an international terrorist by the UN and Interpol? Freedom of speech does not mean free microphones, and freedom of media does not mean that Geo is obligated to provide a platform for Hafiz Saeed to spread his views. So why is Geo choosing to do this? Is it declaring an ideological sympathy with militants?

As for PEMRA, a gentle reminder:

PEMRA Code of Conduct for Media Broadcasters/Cable TV Operators states that:

(1) No programme shall be aired which:

(e) is likely to encourage and incite violence or contains anything
against maintenance of law and order or which promotes antinational or anti-state attitudes…

(o) contains material which may be detrimental to Pakistan’s relations
with friendly countries…

Screening blood and gore

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Profiting from tragedyBy now the images have become burned into the public mind. A young un-armed man is gunned down in the street. This is not the first incident of its kind, but it is perhaps history making because for once there is evidence enough to demand accountability. But as the gruesome scene is re-played over and over by TV channels, the question remains whether repeated showing of the video is necessary to inform the public, or simply exploiting a tragedy in order to increase ratings and profits.

Earlier this year, PEMRA fined two TV channels for violating PEMRA regulations including, “screening blood and gore which by all means is in contravention to PEMRA Rules, Regulations and Code of Conduct besides the self-regulatory Code of Conduct agreed to by the many members of PBA”. Today, the gory video of another murder is screened repeatedly and yet there has been no word of caution.

Zafar Hilaly notes that this repeated screening has other meaning which must be considered.

First, blanketing TV screens with endless replays of the gruesome killing was perverse. What is there to relish in showing man’s inhumanity to man over and over again? All it does is prove that brute force — the law of the jungle — rules in Pakistan. But we know that already and frankly one more killing is but drudge. Or is it because many TV viewers are illiterate and violence in Pakistan is now the repartee of the common man, in other words, the only way he can communicate his angst? So heaping it on, besides being good for the ratings, gives the public the gore that it seems to want. One often wonders whether our channels realise that as sensibilities to pain decline, they will have to raise the dose of cruelty on view to gain attention.

Even on TV talk shows, nothing gets better ratings than two panelists fighting it out and if a flying saucer, glass or water accompanies their rage, so much the better. Just stirring things up, anchors seem to feel, is a reward in itself. They want the audience to get a kick out of their show even if it risks a kick in the teeth of a panelist.

Ironically, even the TV channel associated with the paper that published Mr Hilaly’s column has shown the gruesome murder on repeat.

It was not too long ago that there were court hearings about cartoons on a web site that hurt the religious sensibilities of the people. But what does it mean when our sensibilities have become so numbed to the pain and suffering of our fellow man that a video of a murder is treated so coldly? Obviously, there is the unfortunate need to make available the proofs in order to stop cover ups and conspiracy theories from taking hold. But evidence can be made available without being exploited. This is not to say that PEMRA should make any fines against any TV channels or media groups in this case, but it is to say that we need to have an honest discussion about our own judgment as journalists and how we can inform the public while also respecting the individuals who are affected and their families also.

 

Is Jang Group telling the truth about Geo Super?

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Geo Super Cross Out

Additional evidence has surfaced supporting the belief that Jang Group is playing politics with Geo Super. As you will recall, Jang Group has claimed that transmission of the sports channel was shut down by the government. This claim was first called into question by the blog Cafe Pyala.

Almost everyone would have seen this image where Geo Super used to be. Does this mean PEMRA has pulled Geo Super off air? That’s what the Jang Group would have you believe. But think about something: if the channel were actually blocked, why would you be able to see this image? Remember when Geo and other news channels were pulled off air during the 2007 ‘Emergency’? The screens actually went blank. In fact, what this constant image indicates is that Geo Super is still broadcasting and being distributed on cable and satellite dishes. It is just that the channel itself is not running any programming.

Following additional research, Pakistan Media Watch found evidence that actually Jang Group had stopped broadcasting programming themselves in order to extort a domestic uplink license from the government without following proper procedures.

The story that is unfolding appears to expose a disturbing possibility – that a media group, confident in its ability to sway public opinion, is attempting to pressurise government agencies and the courts to grant it special privileges. Such a scheme would not be necessary to ensure programming reaches the people, rather it would be a direct assault on the authority of the government and the courts and a power grab by media owners.

Just as the government should not interfere with media, media should not attempt to interfere with government also. This story should be watched closely as it appears there could be more to what is going on than is being truthfully reported.

Thanks to the documents revealed by Wikileaks, additional evidence has surfaced which suggests that Jang Group intentionally stops programming in order to gain sympathy from the public and pressurise the government.

wikileaksOn November 17, 2008, “GEO TV” suddenly disappeared from the  airwaves in Karachi.  The blackout lasted about six hours.  A senior “GEO” staffer told our senior information LES that the stoppage was  a result of pressure being applied by one of the political parties  due to “GEO” not airing a speech by one of its politicians.  Post  found out subsequently that another “GEO” official disclosed to an  officer of a European diplomatic mission that they had taken  themselves off the air in order to blame the political party, and  garner support for the station.

As the judiciary determines whether or not PEMRA has not moved forward with the request for a license for Geo Super in order to pressurise Jang Group, perhaps it would also be worth determining whether or not Jang Group has been involved in a pattern of actions intended to deceive the public and pressurise the government also. In no case do two wrongs make it right, and neither PEMRA nor Jang Group should use their resources to pressurise the other. Rather media and regulators both should operate in a fair and transparent matter.

Who has shut down Geo Super?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

If you have not already, please immediately read Cafe Pyala’s brilliant explanation of the PEMRA vs GEO case that unfortunately continues to waste the time and energy of many people. Of the most damaging revalations from this expose is the question who is actually banning Geo Super?

Geo Super Cross OutGeo/Jang Group has consistently accused the government via PEMRA of blocking transmission of Geo Super as a method of retaliation for Jang Group’s constant attacks on the government. But as blogger CPM points out, Geo Super has not been taken off the air, it has simply stopped airing programming. This is why we are subjected to a screen with Jang Group’s new advertisement that shows a red cross over the Geo Super logo. As CPM correctly notes, in order for this to appear on the screen, it must be broadcast. This is clearly not something that the government would be broadcasting, so who is it? It appears to be Geo Super.

Actually, PEMRA has issed show cause notice due to Geo Super’s suspending its own transmission.

Another show cause notice was issued by PEMRA to Geo Super for suspending its satellite transmission since April 5 in contravention to Section 28 of PEMRA Ordinance 2002 and clause 24.1 (c) of the licence terms and conditions which prohibits any broadcast media or distribution service operator from ceasing or suspending broadcasting.

Therefore the question must be asked, if Geo Super has suspended its own programming – not PEMRA –  then why is it telling people that the government has ordered it to stop transmission?

Geo website claims government ordered to stop transmission

As Cafe Pyala points out, Geo has begun “a campaign to get the citizens of Pakistan to grant them a “public license” to resume broadcast (whatever that may be)”. In fact, this is where the answer may lie.

While it is not clear what Geo means by “public license” – a term they may have invented – the petition features an interesting bit of ‘small print’ next to the demand.

Geo's real goal to broadcast from Pakistan?

If you cannot read the screengrab, the petition says in large letters:

As a Pakistani citizen, sports lover and in national interest I hereby give license* to GEO SUPER to broadcast my country’s first and only sports channel from Pakistan.

Notice the star? If you look below, in smaller letters, it says this:

*I also request the regulator and courts to enable GEO SUPER to broadcast from Pakistan

Ahhhhhh!!!!

As Cafe Pyala correctly mentions, Geo Super is registered in Dubai, and therefore broadcasts via international uplink. This is confirmed by the APP article explaining (a bit late) PEMRA’s position.

In this regard, it is clarified that Geo Super is up-linking its transmission from Dubai and is authorised to market and distribute only in Pakistan though a local company i.e. ‘M/s Birds Pvt Ltd’. The channel management has suspended its transmission at its own since April 5, and has launched a baseless media campaign against the regulator alleging for banning its transmission which is factually incorrect.

Geo Super continues to broadcast, only it has suspended the transmission of usual programming and replaced it with a crossed out Geo Super logo and begun a campaign that appears to demand fair treatment for Geo, but is actually asking the public to force the regulators and courts to gran Geo a domestic uplink.

Is this all a game by Jang Group/Geo to blackmail the government into providing it a license to uplink domestically without following proper protocols and regulations? Geo supporters claim that the government has banned Geo Super transmission to hurt Jang Group financially as revenge for critical reporting. But it has been shown that the government has not banned Geo Super transmission, therefore this explanation cannot be true.

The story that is unfolding appears to expose a disturbing possibility – that a media group, confident in its ability to sway public opinion, is attempting to pressurise government agencies and the courts to grant it special privileges. Such a scheme would not be necessary to ensure programming reaches the people, rather it would be a direct assault on the authority of the government and the courts and a power grab by media owners.

Just as the government should not interfere with media, media should not attempt to interfere with government also. This story should be watched closely as it appears there could be more to what is going on than is being truthfully reported.

PEMRA Controversy

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

PEMRAThe News today leads with a troubling story about a PEMRA executive instructing an employee to play games with the broadcast of cricket World Cup on Geo Super. The whistleblowing employee, Regional General Manager of Pemra in Balochistan Gul Muhammad Kakar, provided a document that describes his claim. This case should be investigated to ensure that PEMRA is operating in an objective and fair manner and not targeting any particular media group.

Jang Group which is the owner of Geo is understandably upset, but cries of nefarious plots hatched in the top echelons of power and conspiracies par excellence are premature. Jang Group’s claim that “it has become clear that the government is bent upon bulldozing its way, breaking all laws, trampling upon the rights guaranteed by the highest of courts and the constitution of the country” is an overstatement of the facts as are presently known. Such sensationalism and hyperbole threaten to undermine the cause of objective review of the facts that is required by the course of justice. Certainly there should be “an open and rapid accountability” of anyone involved in attempting to suppress media. But accountability require objective inquiry and not media trials with pre-determined conclusions.

This is a serious accusation that had been made, and it is imperative that the authority of PEMRA not be tarnished by the inappropriate actions of any PEMRA officer. Accordingly, there should be an investigation into the claims of Gul Muhammad Kakar and if any PEMRA officer has acted outside the boundaries of professionalism, he should be sacked immediately. However, the investigation should not be turned into a ‘witch hunt’ and used to score political points and settle personal rivalries. Jang Group needs to let the law take its course and, while defending its own rights, not respond in an extreme manner that undermines its own cause.

Creating Competition for Quality Media

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Media and Society Foundation logoAn often noted problem with media stems from the competition among a large and growing field of television stations and newspapers. This competition is believed to be responsible for a severe decline in the quality of journalism including the proliferation of conspiracy theories, the use of anonymous sources that promote political bias, sensationalism, and the rush to be the first to break a story at the expense of verifying facts. But competition should not mean a decline in quality. The creation of industry standards has been used by other industries to create incentives for improving quality. The same should be done in the media industry.

The International Organization for Standardization is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards spanning 160 countries. The Central Sectariat of the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) resides in Geneva, Switzerland which seeks to create consensus on solutions that meet the needs of both business and the society. Pakistan is a member of the ISO through the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) which has headquarters in Karachi.

At the PSQCA website, individuals can find lists of licensed manufacturers of products such as biscuits, cement, edible oil, razor blade, and three wheelers. Also available are lists of brands that do not meet the basic requirements as well as a list of each product’s non-conformities and when it was tested.

These standards, certifications, and exposures of non-conforming brands helps inform customers about the quality of products while also creating an incentive for manufacturers to provide products that meet minimum standards of excellence. This is especially important for items such as foods and building materials, but why not for media also?

Actually, this question has been asked in the home of the ISO, Switzerland, where the Media and Society Foundation developed a set of international quality standards for media known as ISAS BCP 9001:2010.

The MSF initiative is a concrete response to broadcasters’ demand for independent evaluation and recognition of their quality-management system in order (1) to benefit from unbiased, external reviews of their services and productions; (2) to create an ongoing process ensuring that the highest standards of quality would continue to be pursued in the following areas:

  • Service to listeners, viewers and the general public
  • Service to the society in which they operate, notably by promoting the free flow of information essential to democracy
  • Service to other important stakeholders, including staff and advertisers

Most importantly, this programme is designed as a voluntary compliance so there is no threat of government censorship or interference with media freedom. Also, as the guidelines are based on international standards, it avoids the possibility of undue influence from the owners of domestic media groups and internal politics.

Adopting the ISAS BCP 9001:2010 standards for media could do much to cut through the confusion presented by the present unregulated media environment. With questionable newspapers like The Daily Mail setting a standard of the lowest type, otherwise professional media groups get dragged to the same depths of irresponsibility and unprofessionalism as well. However it is the public and society which suffers from this degradation as the people are left misinformed and confused about issues of vital interest.

Presently, the proposed media standards of the Media and Society Foundation are quite fresh and new. This presents the opportunity for Pakistan to take a leadership role not only at home but on the world stage by transforming the present situation which is a mockery in world opinion to a shining example of how to enact voluntary reforms that ensure a high quality media free from outside interference. Best, though, would be the improved knowledge and understanding of current events and issues of the national interest among the public which would lead to progress in the society and improvements in the lives of the people.

Meher Bokhari and the Future of Pakistani Media

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Meher Bokhari

Meher Bokhari’s story should be a permanent fixture in journalism school as a warning to those future media stars who might be tempted to sacrifice all consideration of ethics, responsibility, and the safety of others for a boost in ratings and personal careers. The final chapter in Bokhari’s story has not been written, though, and how it plays out could have lasting effects on the media industry.

Meher Bokhari has found drawn a bit of attention to herself, though probably not for reasons she had dreamed. The Samaa TV talk show host raised eyebrows during her interview with Salmaan Taseer last November during which she fought with the Governor, accusing him of undermining justice and fanning the flames of religious hatred by questioning the blasphemy laws. Meher even read a fatwa against the Governor on the air.

Two months later, Governor Taseer was shot to death by one of his guards in Islamabad who claims he committed the act because of the Governor’s criticism of the blasphemy laws. Bokhari infamously followed the Governor’s murder with a programme on 5 January that asked if the confessed gunman Mumtaz Qadri is hero or terrorist.

It should be noted that this was not the first time that Meher Bokhari had projected extremist views, rather she regularly hosted guests including Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi who is a leader of banned terrorist organization Sipah-e-Sahaba.

On 11 January, PEMRA imposed a fine of Rs.1 Million on Samaa TV for projecting terrorists. One week later, Meher Bokhari was conspicuously missing from the set of last night’s News Beat, Farieha Idrees appearing in her place. This did not go unnoticed by media watchers, and some are saying that News Beat host has been sacked by Samaa TV, though we have not been able to obtain official confirmation at this time. There are also rumours that Bokhari has been offered a show at Express along with an increase in pay, but again these remain only rumours.

Rumours notwithstanding, what eventually happens with Meher Bokhari is of interest, however, as it will send two important signals to Pakistan’s media groups: The most important being whether PEMRA is a watch dog with no teeth, but also whether the media chiefs are willing to reward a TV anchor who exploits religion to boost ratings. Depending on the signal sent, we could see significant changes in the way media approaches sensitive topics.

If Meher Bokhari gets a raise following a large PEMRA fine, TV anchors will see her as an example of how to advance their careers: pander to the extremist gallery and exploit religious sentiments while shouting your way to the top. Media chiefs likewise will see that the government’s regulatory body is toothless and will ignore warnings and fines as they attempt to boost ratings by outdoing each other with more and more outrageous programming.

On the other hand, Meher Bokhari could serve as a warning for up and coming journalists and producers who learn that there are red lines that are not crossed in civilized discourse. Any temptation towards fatwa baiting would have to be weighed against losing one’s job and reputation in the industry and we might even see the public discourse come to settle at a more moderate level.

As Meher Bokhari’s story continues to be revealed, its final chapter will tell much about the future of Pakistani media.

Return of the Celebrity Mufti Show

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

According to Express Tribune, ‘Four million flood victims still homeless’. The security situation in Karachi continues to be fragile. Terrorists continue to target with suicide bombers. Of all of the many social ills that cry out desperately for attention, which is the most pressing for Kamran Shahid to feature on his news programme? Veena Malik.

Actress Veena Malik crying after being abused on Front Line.

Actress Veena Malik crying after being abused on Front Line.

If you have not already heard about Friday night’s episode of Front Line with Kamran Shahid, you have probably been hiding under a rock. On what is allegedly a hard hitting news talk show, the topic of discussion was an actress’s appearance on the reality show Bigg Boss. What actually took place was an attempted public humiliation of a woman thrown to the wolves of celebrity muftis. It was painful to watch as a the actress suffered baseless accusations against her character and her reputation, all with complete lack of evidence on the part of her accuser.

While the worst behaved on the program by all counts was Mufti Abdul Qawi in his treatment of Veena, special consideration should be given to Kamran Shahid. After all, the host cannot pretend that he could not expect this outcome as only one month ago he invited Mufti Abdul Qawi to appear to discuss the same topic in what turned into another media circus.

Just as he has in the past, Abdul Qawi accused the actress of embarrassing Pakistan and Islam in the eyes of the world with her behaviour on the set of Bigg Boss. But on demand to explain specifically what actions she had done to bring shame to her country or her religion, the Celebrity Mufti was left at a loss.

That is not to say that Pakistan and Islam did not receive a black eye. In fact, what was probably expected to be a bit of juicy entertainment by exploiting the religious sentimentalities of the masses behind the veil of Urdu has become an international scandal. And it is not Veena Malik who is the villain but Kamran Shahid and Abdul Qawi.

Saturday morning, Americans in Los Angeles the location of the Hollywood movie industry picked up their newspaper The Los Angeles Times to see the smiling face of Veena Malik and read an article about her appearance on Front Line and the abuse heaped upon her while the host sat quietly watching. The story was also published by The Associated Press which syndicates reports to newspapers across the world.

We have chronicled on this blog previously how journalists wear two faces in the media – a liberal enlightened mask for their English-language audience, and a right-wing pseudo-fundamentalist mask for Urdu. They believe that they can keep up this charade because they will not be exposed between the two audiences.

Yet more and more we are seeing these cynical media exploiters of the masses exposed. The barriers between language are not solid walls, and just as we move fluidly between English and Urdu, so we are able to notice the tricks that these so-called journalists are playing.

Kamran Shahid, make no mistake, is solely responsible for last night’s programme. He had interviewed Abdul Qawi on the same subject matter only one month prior, so he could expect the result. Kamran Shahid could have chosen any number of pressing topics, and any number of guests. He chose Abdul Qawi for a reason. But that does not in any way excuse this celebrity Mufti for his own actions. Just because a circus chooses to hire a clown, the clown is still responsible for his own performance.

Mufti Abdul Qawi’s treatment of Veena Malik would be considered abuse on a civilized news programme. Sana Saleem describes the setting perfectly for Dawn Blog today:

Throughout the hour-long programme, the host kept attacking Veena by using words such as “oryan,” “fahash” and kept insisting that Veena had brought shame to Islam, Pakistan and our culture. The Mufti on the show was asked to judge Veena’s presence on Bigg Boss in the light of Islam. Here, I must also add that the host tried his best to emphasise that the Mufti had the right to impose a fatwa on Veena for her actions.

Yet by his own admission, Mufti Abdul Qawi has not actually watched episodes of Bigg Boss that he is so virulently criticising. At this point in the programme, Kamran Shahid should have removed this Celebrity Mufti from the set and apologized to Veena Malik. Instead he chose to press for a fatwa on her.

It is not a brave man that beats a defenseless woman. It is even more shameful to be the man who orchestrates such a beating. That Kamran Shahid tried to encourage this celebrity Mufti to not only abuse Veena Malik but to impose a fatwa crosses the line from irresponsible to dangerous. It should be asked whether in doing so Kamran Shahid intentionally or unintentionally attempted to incite violence and lawlessness against Veena Malik. PEMRA would be justified to launch an immediate investigation.

Here again Sana Saleem again makes an important point:

Veena Malik is just one example how certain factions of our media have resorted to moral policing and even advocating fatwas on anyone and everyone. Never mind that we have never pushed for fatwas against suicide bombings, honour killings and many other heinous acts justified in the name of Islam.

From Ansar Abbasi’s pseudo-religious diatribe against Fashion Week in Jang to Talat Hussain’s attack on Angelina Jolie in Daily Express, so-called journalists are building careers out of exploiting religion and attacking women. This is not journalism. And do not be mistaken – this cynical game is not being played in a private parlour but on the world’s stage.

The greatest insult to Pakistan and Islam comes not from the behaviour of an actress on a reality TV programme, but the vicious abuse she receives when she comes home.