Global media continues to condemn Geo closure
ISLAMABAD: The international media continued to pour criticism and condemnation against the uncalled for closure of the popular Pakistani news channel Geo News for airing shoe-throwing at Zardari by an aged Pakistani-origin Briton in Birmingham during a PPP meeting on August 8.
The government is also reported to have banned another private news channel for airing the same story. The Statesman reported that activists of the ruling PPP set ablaze the offices of many cable operators in Karachi for transmitting Geo News and warned them against continuation of the channel’s services.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged Pakistan’s government to immediately restore broadcasts of Geo News and the other private TV channel. The Karachi Union of Journalists, an affiliate of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), is leading a rally protesting against the ban. Geo News staff and their supporters are also likely to protest against the attacks.
Yet in Karachi, Mr Zardari may have been distracted as the fallout from his Europe visit sparked a confrontation between the PPP and Geo News, the television news channel. Hundreds of PPP supporters gathered outside Geo’s headquarter in the city, torching newspapers and tyres, chanting angry slogans and hurling stones and shoes.
The clash stemmed from the party’s outrage over coverage of a protestor’s attempt to strike Mr Zardari with his shoes. While the shoes missed, the mere attempt set off blanket coverage with Geo and other channels drawing wary comparisons with former US President George Bush’s narrow escape in Baghdad.
The PPP responded with fury and Geo’s broadcasts have been shut off in Karachi. Andrew Buncombe and Omar Waraich reported that President Asif Ali Zardari finally returned to his ravaged country to face a barrage of criticism while thousands of people were evacuated from a major city in Pakistan’s heartland as flood waters continued to rise.
The country’s leader, under fire for failing to cancel an overseas trip while more than 14 million of his countrymen struggled to deal with the devastating waters, flew into Karachi and was due to return to the capital later on Wednesday.
There he would face renewed criticism over his failure seemingly to grasp the scale of the crisis – Pakistan’s worst-ever natural disaster. UK daily The Independent said that the insensitivity to the mounting suffering at home was thrown into sharper relief by the long duration of Mr Zardari’s tour.
Even as swelling rivers pushed the number of people affected by the calamity to several million, the president carried on with a visit that had no urgent purpose. Dr Maleeha Lodhi in ‘The News’ wrote that surely the situation demanded Mr Zardari’s presence in the country. True, there is little he could personally have done to improve things.
But just as Bush and Obama learnt, it is the impression of being in charge that is important. And while it might have diverted important helicopter capacity, a visit to the flood-affected areas by the president might have cheered up displaced families, while encouraging those engaged in relief work.
The Khaleej Time reported that two key Pakistani television channels were shut in southern Pakistan amid protests by ruling party workers over reports against the country’s embattled president. The Press TV reported that the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Pakistani government to allow the news channels back on air.
Source: The News