Pakistan's Interior Ministry has cancelled the no-objection certificate of ARY News and stated that the order has been taken on the basis of adverse reports from agencies.
The notification issued, dated August 11 to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) reads: "The NOC issued in favour of M/S ARY Communications Private (Ltd). is cancelled with immediate effect and until further orders on the basis of adverse reports from agencies."
Reacting to the development, ARY News' English website called the cancellation by coalition government led by Shehbaz Sharif an "economic murder of the journalist fraternity". and further said that the cancellation of NOC will be meant by the economic murder of more than 4,000 media workers associated with the news channel.
The ARY News administration condemned the suspension of its transmissions, saying the network is being victimised by the federal government.
This move comes after the Sindh High Court directed Pemra and cable operators to immediately restore the transmission of ARY News, which had been suspended on orders of the government.
Senior lawyer Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said that it is a legal requirement to issue a show-cause notice and listen to the reply in such decisions. Ahsan said that NOC cancellation could be challenged, according to ARY News.
Ahsan said that the court will not take a long time to nullify the government's decision of the NOC cancellation of ARY News. He said that the decision came under the contempt of the court as the SHC issued orders to not close the transmission of the channel.
"It cannot be done in this way that a bureaucrat takes a decision solely to issue a notification of the NOC cancellation. The channel cannot be closed after the decision of the interior ministry. The decision of the NOC cancellation should be immediately challenged to the court."
Legal expert Abuzar Salman Niazi said, "According to PEMRA law, a notice will be issued to seek a reply. The court will not take time to nullify the decision and such steps cannot be taken in a democracy. The NOC cancellation is an unconstitutional and illegal move."
On August 10, the Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered PEMRA to restore immediately the channel's transmission across Pakistan.
In the 10-page order, the Sindh High Court suspended the show-cause notice issued to ARY News by PEMRA. The court also stopped the media regulatory authority from suspending the license of TV channels till the next hearing.
The court also issued notice to PEMRA and the deputy attorney general and adjourned the hearing until August 17, ARY News reported.
Soon it was revealed that PEMRA had ordered the suspension over a statement given by a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shehbaz Gill among other reasons, the ARY News distanced itself from Gill's statement and issued a statement on the matter.
Gill was arrested for "making statements against the state institutions and inciting the people to rebellion," according to the police.
The ARY News clarified that comments or opinions of any individual televised by the network do not represent the channel's policy. Shahbaz Gill's statement was his personal opinion not ARY's editorial policy.
Earlier on Monday, the PEMRA issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing what it called "false, hateful and seditious" content."
On Monday, the transmission of Pakistan's ARY News was suspended in different parts of Pakistan.
The Human Rights Commission in Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly opposed the disruptions to ARY News and asked the country's regulatory authorities not to take channels off the air arbitrarily.
"HRCP strongly opposes the disruptions to @ARYNEWSOFFICIAL. PEMRA must refrain from arbitrarily taking channels off the air and protect all media houses' right to freedom of expression, responsibly exercised," HRCP tweeted.
Pakistan is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists, with three to four murders each year that are often linked to cases of corruption or illegal trafficking and which go completely unpunished, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Any journalist who crosses the red lines dictated by the Pakistan military is liable to be the target of in-depth surveillance that could lead to abduction and detention for varying lengths of time in the state's prisons or less official jails. (ANI)