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Ban On TV channels

08 June, 2007

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Shaken by lawyers and opposition movement, President General Pervez Musharraf has imposed fresh curbs on the electronic media , sparking protests from journalists, politicians and human rights activists all over the country.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Ordinance (2007), issued by the president empowers PEMRA to take action on its own against television channels which violate rules.

The ordinance authorises PEMRA to confiscate the equipment of broadcasters and seal the premises without consulting the council of complaints.

The decree followed the controversial directives issued by the PEMRA on Saturday last barring television networks from airing talk shows and carrying out live coverage of events related to the judicial crisis.

The council was envisaged in the amendments passed in February last. The amendment increased the fine for violators to Rs10 million from existing Rs1 million.

Soon after the promulgation of the ordinance, journalists took to streets in the country, deep concerns are also expressed by international journalist and human rights organisations.

Organisations representing politicians and lawyers condemned the move while the parliamentary opposition announced plans for requisition of a special session of the National Assembly’s standing committee on information.

Analysts believe that this move is not unexpected. The blockage of live broadcast by different TV channels on the part of government and its allied parties had already suggested that something is going to happen, they opine.

Here are some questions
1) Is this ordinance a calculated move to gag free media?
2) Do you think that it would work out as the goverment plans in this era?
3) Do you think the issuance of this ordinance is a blunder after blunder?
4) How will it affect the government`s credibility?

Reader Comments:

Media Independence

I think the media in its newly found independence - which is now according to them being curbed but according to the authorities regulated and implemented - has lost its sense of proportion. In its such effusiveness it feels elated to take on the mightiest. Some of the media men seem certainly influenced by the opposition, particularly the BB and NS, for reasons best known to them. A common perception going rounds smacks of monetary gains. And as of today, it has found a natural ally in the black coats and the opposition who are not tired of showering their ‘interested’ praise day and night on the media. In turn media looks towards them not only for the support but also to fight its legal battle(s) in the court should such an eventuality arise. A typical case of, “You scratch my back and I will scratch yours” but not realising:

Aazadi-e-afkar sey haiy unn ki tabahi
Rakhtay naheen jo fikr-o-tadabbar ka saleeqa
Ho fikr agar khaam, tau aazdi-e-afkar
Insaan ko haiwaan bananay ka tareeqa


Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd), Pakistan - 08 June, 2007


Yet again does this corrupt government amaze me. I thought Musharraf was supposed to be leading Pakistan to "freedom" not to blackmail and suppression. Obviously, i thought wrong. Do they think that banning the media will make their image stronger in the eyes of the common public. The elite might not care, they have computers and other means of getting this information but what about those people who can only afford a t.v and live in small homes? Do they not have a right to know what's going on IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY?

Imaan Hazir, Pakistan - 08 June, 2007

Government backs down on decree reinforcing censorship of broadcast media

Reporters Without Borders today hailed last night's decision by the Pakistani government to suspend implementation of an ordinance that would increase the powers of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) following a wave of protests by journalists' organisations and the political opposition.
The authorities announced the creation of a six-member committee to review the controversial ordinance and submit a report to the prime minister. The decision was announced soon after a meeting yesterday evening in Islamabad between the information minister and some owners of leading news media, including privately-owned TV stations.
"The determined opposition of Pakistan's journalists and the support of the international community forced the government to back down on its draconian plan to reinforce the PEMRA's powers," Reporters Without Borders said. "The authorities and the media must now sit down together and construct an independent mechanism for regulating the broadcast media."
During a national assembly session yesterday, dozens of journalists and opposition members vented their anger against the government's attempts to reinforce censorship. Such slogans as "We want freedom," "The pen flag will continue to fly" and "Black law unacceptable" were chanted in the national assembly chamber, press gallery and corridors, where scuffles also took place. Speaker Amir Hussain finally banned journalists from entering the parliament building.
The European Union and the United States had both warned the Pakistani government of the dangers of reinforcing the PEMRA's powers.

"Qamar yousafzai", Pakistan - 08 June, 2007

Violation of media freedom

I am gravely concerned by the recent series of attacks on television stations that have been airing open discussions on the latest developments with regard to the political situation and also the judicial crisis.

I am informed that the Pakistan government has stopped the transmissions of on popular channel, the Geo TV, throughout the country since 3 June 2007, after the television station management refused the request of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting not to broadcast its two current affair programs 'Meray Mutabiq" and "Kamran Khan Kay Sath'.

I am also informed that the government is also stopping transmissions of two other television channels, the ARY One and the AAJ, by pressurizing the cable operators not to air the transmissions of both channels. The actions against both channels have been taken after the management of the TV channels refused to follow the instruction of the MIB to stop telecasting the activities of Chief Justice Mt. Iftekhar Choudhary and covering the country's judicial crisis in their current affairs programs. The transmissions of both channels have been stopped intermittently since 31 May 2007.

I have note with grave concern that these incidents are in line with the government's series of attacks on the television stations to enforce strong censorship over them. For instance, on 16 March 2007, the police forces had attacked the office of the Geo TV at Islamabad and its program 'Kamran Khan Kay Sath' had been banned for four days based on the instruction of the MIB. Anot! her TV channel, the AAJ, had received a Show Cause Notice issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Sindh Region) (PEMRA). The AAJ TV Station was further reportedly attacked by armed groups of a ruling party for about 6 hours on 12 May 2007. This channel is in continuous pressure from the government to date. Several television channels including the ARY One, Geo TV, AAJ, are in tremendous pressure from the government.

Discussing the independence of the judiciary is a matter on which society has a paramount concern and an attack on the Chief Justice is of such gravity that society cannot expect to be able to safeguard its basic rights without getting involved in his defense. Having discussions or debates on the rule of law and constitutional matters is a right guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan and no party, be they pro or anti state has the right to refuse any other party permission to express their views. This is an unalienable right guaranteed not only by the Constitution but by international norms and standards.

Furthermore, the government's action against television stations breaches the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to expression. Article 19(2) of the Covenant specifically mentions, 'Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.' Although Pakistan has not ratified the Covenant, it has moral obligation to respect the right to expression and media freedom as a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

However, I am concerned that on contrary, President General Musharraf has issued an ordinance which has handed unprecedented powers to the PEMRA, allowing it to seize the broadcast or distribution service equipment of television and radio channels and suspend their licenses on June 5. Unfortunately, in his address in a press conference on May 31, the Federal Minister of Information and Broadcasting also announced that his ministry has an intention to merge PEMRA, an autonomous central government body, into the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, with intention to enforce more strict censorship over the media in the country.

I therefore strongly urge you to intervene into the matters mentioned above. The government's ban on three television channels, the Geo TV, AAJ and ARY One, should be lifted immediately.
The Government of Pakistan should also stop a war against the media immediately and restore the media freedom in accordance with the Constitution and the international human rights laws. The President's ordinance allowing unprecedented powers to the PEMRA should be withdrawn as soon as possible. Lastly, I urge the government of Pakistan to ratify the ICCPR without further delay and fully respect the media freedom and stop attacks on the free media.

I look for your immediate intervention into this matter.

AHRC Urgent Appeals, Holy See - 08 June, 2007


If the Americans feel today that to do the accountability of the whole world but not a single question should be put to them.Army officers may well believe that they are the only honest institution in pakistan to do the accountability of every other institution in the country but this is not the fact.

Before blaming every one politicians,journalists,
Lawyers,NGO's and human rights organisations for resisting look at yourself you are becoming gods.

Yeh kaun jawan haen arz-e-ajam
Yeh lak lut
Jin ke jismon ka kundan
Yun khak mein reza reza hae

farhan, Pakistan - 09 June, 2007

Media and National Interest

Unfortunately! Media is crossing all boundries! One would expect media personal to know the difference when they are breaching national interest!

kadar khan, Pakistan - 11 June, 2007

Ban on TV channels

Col Jafri you amaze me. How can a person of your stauts agree with a dictator. Are you taking the government side because you are one of them who are suppose to be public servants but have become dictators. Do you care about your kids and their kids.Col Jafri times have changed and its time for you and people like you to wake up.Pakistans young want the freedom which is their birth right to live and breath in a free country where freedom of speech is the most important thing. Do you want your kids or grand kids to be so ignorant that they do not know what the reality is.India and Pakistan got the freedom at the same time look at India where it has gone and look at Pakistan. Do you know why.Its the freedom, freedom to speak, freedom to vote freedom to watch. Banning tv channels does not stop from people thinking. Tv does not dictate people its only a medium. If I do not like to watch some thing I am not going to watch whether its on tv or not. More information you provide to the public better informed public will be. If TV channels are banned guess who is providing the information illitrate Mullahs and terroists. Do you really think these religius thugs are going to do any good to Pakistan except take it down.
Frredom Of Speech is every Palistanis right and every pakistani needs to defend it.

Vinod, Pakistan - 13 June, 2007


Yet again the dictator is using all means to try to save his sinking ship by banning and than overturning the ban after mass protests. How can this man justify any thing that he has been doing as upholding the constitution & law when he himself is holding both of his posts (president & coas) illeagaly against the constitution. Doesnt he remember that he came to power by force at gun point and not thru election and than he has the impudence to tell others of law & order and what the constitution says.For being a army chief he is a untrustworthy,unrelible,unprofessional man and he is the one who is defaming the pak army.He is always going on about democracy but needs to relise that he is a army head and armies dont have democracy within but they are run on dictation and obeying orders without questioning.

J. AKRAM, United Arab Emirates - 14 June, 2007


Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir and many others were present during the regimes of Zia, Bhutto and Sharif. How come they never raised their opinions against those govts?

Most of these were paid back then and most of them are still pen for hire.

A Ban is there because of a simple requirement and requirement is that media should be UNBIAS!

People should consider our medias'contractual agreements before waisting time in writing these comments.

Media is contractually bound to be unbias and if they are supporting any particular group then they are in a breach of contract!

There should be an investigation into the role of our media and journalists.

I would like to know who is the highest paid pen!

Imran Siddiqui, Canada - 16 June, 2007

media curbs

Why the people who matter do not understand one simple problem. With each passing day, people are getting more and more paassive towards the affairs and policies of Pakistan and are opying to leave the country as they get the chance. CAN SOMEBODY ANSWER - WHY?

Iqbal Sheikh, Pakistan - 17 June, 2007

Media Ban

Do not Call it a media ban,its exageration and out of proportion reporting,Media is very independent nowadays in pakistan but when you start showing a talk show where invitees are literary fighting and not making sesnse , what impression our kids get?Thats how civilized people discuss? or when media is showing four dead person lying on the and around a car and a gentleman riding his bike just checking and not even helping, are too much to watch, people who comes on show should have decency of a dialouge not fighting match. If media does not correct itself Govt has full right to control.

Pkhan, United Kingdom - 17 June, 2007

Another Set-Up

That bhuto Nawaz sahrif are behind all this. They are killing Pakistani public as usual to undermine Pervez Musharraf

Talat, United Arab Emirates - 18 June, 2007

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