Pakistan's decision to ban media coverage of Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the Jamaatud Dawa and its front Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation and other outlawed groups was part of a commitment given to United States President Barack Obama by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his recent visit, a media report said on Wednesday.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority on Monday banned media from coverage of these outfits, citing obligations under the UN Resolution 1267. Citing official sources, the Dawn reported that Ministry of Information issued a letter directing PEMRA to stop all coverage of the three organisations.
"Officials claim orders came from information ministry in line with PM's commitment to US president," it reported. Sharif visited the US last month and had detailed talks with President Obama on various issues, including terrorism.
"The PM apprised the president about Pakistan's resolve to take effective action against UN-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including LeT and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under UN Security Council resolutions," said a joint statement issued during Sharif's visit
The PEMRA in its notification claimed that the gag orders were issued on the directions of ministries of interior and foreign affairs. But the interior ministry in a statement on Monday said it issued no such orders.
The PEMRA had also forwarded the official list of 72 groups that have been banned, either by the government of Pakistan or by the UN, but the directives issued specifically named the LeT, JuD and FIF, with no reference to other groups involved in terrorism and sectarian violence in Pakistan.
Commenting on the PEMRA directive, JuD spokesperson Mohammad Asif said that UN Resolution 1267 of 2008 had three segments, all highlighting four persons: Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Mehmood Bahaziq (who is a Saudi national) and Haji Ashraf, who had already died around two years ago.
"The (stipulations of the) UN Resolution are that these persons cannot travel abroad, their personal bank accounts will be sealed and they are not allowed access to weapons," Asif said, adding that all these requirements were being fulfilled, but there was nothing about curbs on movement or speech within the state.