Pakistan's TV regulator on Friday censured a leading news channel for airing "hate speech" against Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and her family, warning that accusations of blasphemy could endanger lives.
Malala, who moved to England after being shot in the head by the Taliban, is both admired and hated in her native Pakistan where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country.
In its ruling, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said that a programme aired by the 24-hour ARY news channel on February 7 used "indecent and uncivilised" language to describe the 18-year-old, branding her "a traitor, a blasphemer of Allah and the Prophet (Mohammad)".
"The host and guests used such words about Malala Yousafzai and her family that undoubtedly fall under hate speech and use of such words are strictly banned under the law and constitution," it said.
"Issuing certificates of treason and infidelity and declaring someone the enemy of the country or an enemy of Islam is not the job of TV anchors or the participants of a TV programme," it added.
"They are broadcasting such material which could endanger someone's life."
Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 along with India's Kailash Satyarthi, a fellow education activist.