GILGIT - The Gilgit-Baltistan Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Tuesday sentenced the owner of Geo TV channel and Jang Group, Mir Shakeelur Rehman, to 26-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1.3 million for broadcasting a blasphemous programme, reported a private TV channel.

The court has given directives to IGPs of police, Islamabad, Punjab and Sindh to arrest Mir Shakeel through Interpol. The ATC has also ordered seizure of his passport and property.

The verdict against Mir Shakilur Rahman along with the host of the show and two guests was announced by an anti-terror court in the city of Gilgit.

But the order is unlikely to be implemented because the Gilgit-Baltistan region is not considered a full-fledged province by Pakistan and verdicts by its courts do not apply to the rest of the country.

The four people convicted were also ordered to pay a fine of 1.3 million rupees, sell their properties and surrender their passports, according to a copy of the court order.

"The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country and hurt the feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency," the order said.

No lawyer appeared on behalf of any of the accused. However the court had arranged a state lawyer to defend them.

The morning show broadcast live on Geo TV in May featured starlet Veena Malik dancing with her new husband while a group of Sufi musicians sang a devotional song.

Its broadcast set off a storm of controversy on social media, though similar routines by other channels in the past have largely gone unnoticed.

Many observers at the time suspected military establishment of engineering the blasphemy campaign against Geo TV.