The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) decision to file a petition in the Supreme Court against the media blackout of speeches of opposition rallies must be welcomed. The government has so far been unable to identify the exact reason for this alleged attempt at stifling the visibility of opposition parties and the court can help clarify matters once and for all.

The inconsistencies in the statements of government representatives have also added to the confusion; while some have denied a blackout, others have stated that the move to block coverage comes as a result of denying convicted criminals and those under trial to sway the proceedings surrounding their case. Yet these rules do not appear to apply to members of the ruling PTI, and their coverage continues without protest or without hindrance.

Given that ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf spent the bulk of its time as opposition on the tops of containers conducting televised rallies across the country, it is strange that they would be so unwilling to extend the same courtesy to political opponents. The Prime Minister has also stated time and again that he is not against opposition parties exercising their right to protest or organise demonstrations; why is the government not adhering to the wishes of the Prime Minister? A court case will help in resolving these inconsistencies.

The Court is best suited to settle this debate once and for all; is the government subverting the rights of both average citizens and politicians by denying media coverage to opposition parties or are the parties in question in violation of the constitution; this legal debate can only be settled when the leading judges of the country weigh in on the issue.

There is also the added caveat of the current climate of hostility in the political climate of the country. Supreme Court adjudication over the matter can help sift fact from fiction.

Whether or not the government is following the rules on denying access to media coverage is a matter that is best settled in the apex court. The is the only way for the PML-N and other opposition parties to get their concerns regarding media coverage; it is a wonder then that they did not approach the Supreme Court any sooner. It can be hoped that this case is taken up with urgency to let this matter resolve before the animosity between opposition parties and the government increases.