LAHORE - Pakistan’s television regulator yesterday was given five days to explain why TV stations violated the ban on broadcasting interviews with the exiled Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief.

Absar Alam, chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), was ordered to submit a report on its enforcement of the ban when he appeared in Lahore High Court earlier yesterday.

Television stations were ordered to observe a complete blackout of the MQM leader’s speeches in September after he called for India and other foreign countries to halt the Rangers’ crackdown on terrorism and political violence in Karachi.

Many of those targeted in the operation were members of his party. His comments were strongly attacked as ‘anti-Pakistan.’ A full bench of the court headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi issued the order on three identical petitions seeking a ban on media coverage of the MQM leader’s speeches. Several weeks later however a number of television news channels broadcast the MQM chief’s comments in breach of the ruling. His reaction to money-laundering allegations against him and several other MQM leaders in the United Kingdom were featured in television news reports in Pakistan.

In November several petitions against the PEMRA chairman over his failure to enforce the ban were submitted to the Lahore High Court. Since then he has appeared in court six times to explain how effectively the ban has been enforced but has successfully appealed for the matter to be deferred on each occasion.

Today, during his seventh appearance, he was allowed a further adjournment but must now submit his report by January 15th.

The Pemra chairman said complaints against stations alleged to have breached the ban have been referred to the regulator’s Council of Complaints in Karachi which considers the responses of those channels accused of flouting the rules.

The Council will meet the day before the next court hearing on January 14th to assess whether the accused channels had indeed breached the ban and, if so, what punishment should be awarded against them.

The court also granted an exception to Absar Alam from appearing personally in future hearings. The next high court hearing will also hear the federal government’s evidence on the MQM chief’s identity and his alleged comments against the state institutions.

Remanded extended in DHA scam: An accountability court yesterday extended for further three days physical remand of a man allegedly involved in Rs16 billion related to land acquisition for DHA City (Lahore).

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) produced Hammad Arshad, the suspect, before the court and pleaded that they were investigating the scam and therefore, the further remand of the accused was required. The court allowed his plea and extended it for next two days. Hammad Arshad, CEO of Globaco (pvt) Ltd, was taken into custody after he was found involved in the scam, which is said to be the biggest scam of the country’s history.

His had secured a contract from DHA-EME in 2009 to acquire 25,000 kanals land for the establishment of DHA City.

However, the company failed to acquire the agreed land and issued allotment letters and collected around Rs15.47 billion from public. He was also accused of transferring amount into his personal account.