Pakistani Channel Geo TV Goes Off Air, Military Hand Suspected
The channel, which carried critical coverage of the Pak Army, has reportedly gone off-air in most of the country.
Popular Pakistani channel Geo TV has gone off air in most parts of the country, with reports claiming a military hand at work.
In an interview to The New York Times, the chief executive of the network, Mir Ibrahim Rahman, said that the channel was off-air in almost 80 percent of the country.
While Geo News had been shut down in cantonment and other military residential areas in the first week of March, the network’s sports and entertainment channels are now being forced off the air by cable operators, reported New York Times.
While Geo has not mentioned the military per se, the Pakistani armed forces are largely suspected to be at play as the channel has been overtly critical in its coverage of Pakistan being placed on the terror financing watch list, displeasing the military to a great extent, reported New York Times. The channel is also allegedly sympathetic to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while taking an opposite stand on his rival Imran Khan.
Further, Geo has also carried articles critical of the country’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, upsetting the military further, reported the The Times of India.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said that they had not sanctioned Geo to be taken off-air. In fact, the PEMRA has also issued notices to cable operators instructing them not to disrupt the channel’s broadcast, reported The Times of India.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also expressed its concern over the channel’s seemingly forced suspension. In a statement to the New York Times, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator Steven Butler said:
The arbitrary suspension of Geo TV on cable TV is a direct assault on Pakistan’s constitutionally guaranteed right to access information. It’s outrageous that the authorities are either unable to find or too frightened to name those powerful enough to orchestrate the blocking of the news distribution.Steven Butler, Programme Coordinator, CPJ
While Rahman told the New York Times that the channel had approached the Supreme Court regarding the situation, he says the channel has also been warned ‘not to expect justice’.
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