Pakistan banned the media coverage of terror groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa as part of a wider crackdown on terror, acknowledging for the first time that the outfit led by Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed was a wing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued a notification to all satellite TV channels and radio stations, banning the coverage of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) under United Nations restrictions.
“The Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation are the other wings of Lashkar-e-Taiba,” the notification said.
This is for the first time that a Pakistan government department has admitted that JuD and FIF are “other wings of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)”.
According to the notification, 60 proscribed organisations and 12 others have been placed under a watch list.
The notification said the action has been taken against these organisations as part of the National Action Plan.
“The Pakistani satellite TV channels and FM radios should strictly follow the direction, and in case of breach of code of conduct, fine may be imposed or license be revoked,” the notification warned.
The authority has also banned the electronic media from running any advertisement of these three organisations for collection of funds “in the name of social work”.
Some local channels, quoting PEMRA officials, said the interior ministry had not directed them to ban the three outfits.
It is not clear whether the move to ban coverage of the three outfits is linked to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s assurance to US President Barack Obama last month to take “effective action” against UN-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including the LeT and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions.
The National Action Plan was devised in January this year after the Peshawar Army Public School massacre in which over 150 people, mostly school children, were killed.
In the aftermath of the attack, the government and military had decided to carry out operations in the tribal areas and take action against all terror organisations and their facilitators across the country.
The UN declared the JuD a terror organisation and also individually designated Saeed as a terrorist in December 2008.
The US has already put a 10 million dollars bounty on Saeed’s head.
Saeed, who orchestrated the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 in which 166 people were killed, roams around freely in Pakistan and makes anti-India remarks and speeches.