In compliance with the Lahore High Court orders, PEMRA has barred TV anchor Mubasher Lucman from conducting his show and appearing on television in any other capacity. Ary news CEO Salman Iqbal and Mubasher Lucman, along with a few others, are currently facing court charges for attempting to malign members of the superior judiciary in an interview with Asim Malik, owner of Future Concerns. It is important to clarify that what is being commonly described as an outright ban is in fact a suspension, which may be upheld or terminated depending on further court orders. Regardless, it is a cautiously welcome development, for the accused in the case are notorious for practicing journalism devoid of fairness, ethics or responsibility.

There are some in the media business who have been holding trials on their shows, condemning individuals and institutions alike for offences without providing them a fair opportunity to defend themselves. Under the garb of ‘investigative journalism’, they are actively participating in a propaganda campaign aimed at discrediting whoever or whatever stands in the way of their agendas. These hounds continue to violate the trust of their many viewers, defying all ethics of journalism, and Mr Lucman, by virtue of his superior ability to conduct the most inferior, sensational and slanderous form of programmes, has come to become pack leader. This journalism – the sort that Mr Lucman and others of his kind practice – prohibits truth, fair play or sensibility from contaminating it.

Mr Lucman is a known commodity. He has served as a minister during former dictator Pervez Musharraf’s rule and not too long ago, was found conducting a staged interview with real estate tycoon Malik Riaz. He sits on national television, and before everyone’s eyes, concocts dangerous cocktails of half truths and half lies. The problem is, most will believe him. In the court of overwhelming public opinion, Lucman will win every time, because there is no room for opposing debate in his brand of Kharra Such. Not all shows must go on.

As a matter of principle, the media stands for freedom of speech and expression. And it is for the sanctity of these very principles, which form the cornerstone of a pluralistic, democratic society, that we deem it proper to hold overstepping individuals and entities accountable by a court of law, of misconduct of one form or the other; just as we do on issues concerning hate speech, national security and so on. A complete ban must be avoided as long as possible, but when everything else has failed to appeal to the conscience of habitual transgressors, then it can and should be applied.