In Pakistan, Laal Band Sues Channel For Defamation, Gets Favourable Verdict. Will JNU Follow?

Shahnawaz Malik 

From across the border, the revolutionary cultural activist of Pakistan Taimur Rahman has appealed the JNU community  after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) cracks whip on news channels for using derogatory remarks against Laal Band, calling it anti-Islam and anti-national.

After the favourable verdict, Taimur Rahman – who leads the famous progressive band of Pakistan called Laal -appealed the JNU community to move court in doctored video clip, used by the self-proclaimed nationalist news channels to malign the image of JNU as well as declare the students and teachers anti-national.

As per the PEMRA’s  directives, the channels in Pakistan cannot use derogatory words such as anti-National, anti-Islam, enemy of Pakistan and non-religious for the dissidents. On the basis of a case filed by Taimur Rahman, the PEMRA gave this ultimatum to the news channels.

In April 2015, Express News channel ran a fake news regarding Taimur Rahman, for that PEMRA gave a warning to the Express news channel and its anchor Ahmad Qureshi.  PEMRA asked, Ahmad to either run an apology on the channel or be ready for the legal procedures.

Dr Rahman is a famous cultural activist of Pakistan, also an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He is also a human right activist and his revolutionary band ‘Lal’ is quite popular in the entire South Asia.

The controversy erupted when Rehman was trying to organize a programme related to unstable state Balochistan, at varsity, on April 12, 2015. Besides, another human rights activists including Mama Kadir from Balochistan were expected to be part of the event but at the last moment, management cancelled the programme. Later, Dr Rahman tried to get permission to organize the event in Karachi city but failed. At last, noted activist Sabeen Mahmood help him organizing the programme at her office in Islamabad, on April 24.

Sabeen Mahmood: slain activist of Pakistan

After the programme, when Sabeen was returning home, some miscreants shot her dead. She died on the spot after being shot by five bullets. It should be mentioned here that about a week before the programme, ISI personnel reached her office and warned her to cancel the event. It is presumed that alleged involvement of ISI in her murder.

On April 12, when the programme got cancelled in Lahore, and then nationalist anchor Ahmad Qureshi of Express news channel deliberately targeted Taimur Rahman. In his report, Qureshi informed that Asad Rahman, uncle of Taimur Rahman, was studying in London in 1970, when he came in close contact with secret agencies of Russia and India. Later, Asad Rahman went Balochistan and started working against Pakistan, Qureshi added. Anchor Qureshi said, Taimur is the nephew of an anti-national element and in the name of human rights, he is working against Pakistan.

On April 26, just after two days of the programme and the murder of Sabeen, Ahmad Qureshi again ran a bulletin. This time, Qureshi put all his efforts to go negative against Taimur Rahman. Qureshi gave suggestion to LUMS management and asked them to interrogate Taimur to know the real motto of his programme.

In a similar pattern of India’s nationalist Anchors, Qureshi also added in his bulletin that these human rights activists do not show any kind of sympathy, when soldiers of Balochistan die in terror attacks.

Qureshi added that whenever government bans such programmes then these so called activists use phrases of human rights and freedom of speech but when our soldier dies than they remain silent. Qureshi give the lectures on nationalism, in a same fashion, Indian channels did with JNU students.

Understandably, Taimur Rahman was highly upset due to these remarks. He filed a defamation case and complaint PEMRA too. After probe, PEMRA found Achor Ahmad Qureshi guilty.

After winning the case, Taimur Rahman appealed in favour of JNU community. He said that the JNU controversy should also be brought to the court.

This is an open secret that struggle of human rights in Pakistan is way tougher than India, yet their battle is on.

Qureshi further raised a question regarding the murderers of Sabeen Mahmood. Qureshi concocted a story that when the programme of Rahman was not covered by media then Balochis people killed Sabeen so that people could know about their programme.

He said that no one else murdered Sabeen but the people of Balochistan. She was an ideal woman but she doesn’t know about their dirty politics hence she trapped and was killed, Qureshi lamented

The author is a Delhi-based journalist.