Amir Liaqat has been barred from his show after saying five secular activists who recently disappeared and other liberal Pakistanis should be killed for blasphemy. Local police have accused Liaqat of hate speech.
TV host Amir Liaqat (L) has been banned from his show for calling for the deaths of liberals and activist bloggers
Pakistani officials took self-styled religious scholar and popular television evangelist Amir Liaqat off the air on Thursday for incitement.
Liaqat called for five human rights activists who disappeared this month to be put to death for sedition and blasphemy. He also ridiculed secular and left-leaning people, saying they are enemies of the state and also deserve to be killed.
Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws seek death for perceived insults to Islam or the Prophet Muhammad.
Pakistan's Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said on Thursday Liaqat was no longer allowed to appear on the pro-military BOL TV channel, where he hosted his daily program, or any other local broadcast.
Mohammad Tahir, an official with the state regulator, said that should Liaqat violate the ban, the broadcaster would face legal action.
"Liaqat cannot call anyone an infidel or traitor," Tahir's statement said.
Also on Thursday, police in the city of Rawalpindi registered a criminal case against the TV host, accusing him of hate speech and of making murder threats, police official Ghulam Abbas said.
Once hate speech is registered in Pakistan, it indicates the police recommend the judiciary step in and raise criminal charges against an offender.
"We will arrest him," Abbas said.
Calls to release missing activists
Liaqat, who was also once accused of blasphemy, said the missing human rights activists are liable to be killed because most of their online posts were against Islam.
Supporters and relatives of the bloggers denounced the claims, saying that the screenshots of the activists' social media pages that were shown on Liaqat's show were fake.
The five activists, including poet and academic Salman Haider, went missing earlier this month under mysterious circumstances in the Pakistani cities of Lahore, Nankana Sahib and Islamabad. They were known as critics of Islamic extremism and the Pakistani military's role in politics.
Hundreds protested in Pakistan's major cities, calling for the activists' safe return. Relatives and rights groups allege that the country's powerful spy agency is behind the disappearances as part of a larger crackdown on dissent.
No group has claimed responsibility for the abductions and no government department or intelligence agency has said it detained them.
rs/msh (AP, dpa)