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PEMRA: A tool to curb freedom

With the mushroom growth of private channels in the 2000s, the government of Pakistan decided to establish a regulatory authority that would monitor the content that is being aired and shown to the people of Pakistan. It was indeed a step in the right direction because “absolute power corrupts,” and media with such a significant influence should be held accountable for its content. But who knew that this institution would turn into a “Giant Monster” that protects the interests of the few elite and suppress the freedom of the whole Pakistani nation.

The problem started in 2007 when PEMRA began acting as an organ of the sitting government and directed the TV channels not to publish any news against the armed forces and the country’s ruling elite. Two years later, PEMRA banned two TV channels named GEO TV and AJ TV for violating the SOPs. This was the start of the dark age in Pakistan where we saw TV channels being banned, journalists being taken off the air, and the constant reminders that Islam, Pakistan, and its culture are in danger.

Nowadays, we see that Pakistani media has turned into a complete mess where misogynistic values, male dominance, and patriarchal culture are constantly being portrayed. And in the middle of this, if we see something good, it gets banned in the name of religion and culture. For example, the recent notification of PEMRA to ban hugs and kisses on the screen by declaring it against our cultural values and faith. Sadly, public display of affection for PEMRA is against our moral values, but hitting women is not. And the icing on the cake is that the same PEMRA that claims to be the savior of our culture has seen its DG being sacked for sexual harassment.

The problem does not end here as the authority has also banned airing the speeches of the leader of the second-biggest party of Pakistan. It means that the institution made to promote democratic values and freedom is itself creating hurdles for it. The list goes on and on, but one thing is for sure that Pakistan needs to come out of this chaos as soon as possible. Otherwise, it would push us to the stone age and produce an extremist breed of Pakistanis with no critical thinking.

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