IFJ urges reopening of blocked channels
ISLAMABAD: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has demanded of the government to immediately restore broadcasts by Geo TV and ARY TV channels, says a press release issued on Monday.
It said the blocking of transmissions of the TV channels was affecting news coverage and information regarding relief efforts to deal with widespread disaster caused by massive floods. “The IFJ reminds President Asif Ali Zardari of the promises he made upon taking office that he would uphold and defend freedom of the press and information in Pakistan,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“It is essential that at such a sensitive time for Pakistan that its government and leaders promote full transparency and resist resorting to the censoring tactics employed by military regimes of the past.”
The IFJ is further concerned that pressures on television operators potentially threaten the jobs of hundreds of journalists and media workers in the broadcast sector. Aside from the broadcast blocks, offices of cable operators of Geo and ARY TV channels in Karachi were reportedly set ablaze by activists of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), according to local news reports.
Copies of the Geo-associated Jang and The News newspapers were reportedly stolen from vendors and burnt. Threats were issued that delivery vans would be burnt. Geo’s website reported that some PPP leaders and government officials had warned cable operators across the country to cease transmission of Geo, but most of them refused to do so.
The incident in which shoes were hurled occurred as Zardari led a PPP rally in Birmingham on Saturday during a visit to the United Kingdom. Zardari’s Europe visit is reportedly stirring anger among the Pakistani community abroad and at home as the country contends with the continuing flood emergency.
Nationwide protests against the broadcast ban are under way, including a rally on Monday led by the Karachi Union of Journalists, an affiliate of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).
In March 2008, then President Zardari had told an IFJ delegation that his new government would not have hostile relationship with the media, as had occurred under the government of Pervez Musharraf.
However, in March 2009, Zardari ordered a ban on telecasts by Geo in regard to coverage of protesting lawyers and opposition party opinions. The move prompted the resignation of the then Information Minister Sherry Rehman.
In a separate incident involving Geo on August 7, two unidentified gunmen fired at a news team in Hyderabad, according to a PFUJ statement. Geo reporter Anwar Kamal and his driver Nasim Ahmed were hurt in the attack on their car near Thandi Sarak. The pair continued driving to a hospital, and are reported to be recovering from their injuries. Kamal believed he was attacked because of his journalistic activities, according to the PFUJ.
Source: The News