The Anti Terrorism Court of Gilgit-Baltistan has sentenced owner of GEO television network and Jang Group, Mir Shakeel Ur Rehman, to 26 years in prison and 1.3 million rupees in fine.
The verdict was pronounced in a case whereby Mr. Rehman was accused to have played role in an alleged blasphemous program aired on GEO television some months ago.
The judge of ATC also ordered the Inspector General Police (IG) of Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad to implement the verdict. The judge also ordered authorities to seize the assets and passport of Mr. Rehman.
The court also announced its verdict against the popular GEO morning show host Dr. Shaista Lodhi, actress Veena Malik and Malik’s husband Assad Parvez Khattak in the same case.
Dr. Lodhi was hosting a TV show on GEO TV to celebrate the wedding of Malik and Khattak after which they were accused to have committed blasphemy in the program.
A court in Mithi had announced punishment for Mr. Rehman in the same case few months ago; however, the verdict was not implemented.
It is pertinent to mention here that blasphemy is a very serious issue in Pakistan and often leads to mob violence. It has been noted that even allegations of blasphemy have led to the death of dozens of people by angry mob in the Islamic Republic.