ISLAMABAD – Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal cleared the air on Sunday that neither Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) nor the Ministry of Information had issued any directives for the suspension of news channel Geo News.
Expressing concerns over the suspension of the channel- dubbed No.1 by independent sources – in certain parts of the country, the minister said that only Pemra had the right to suspend the transmission of any channel.
The legislator claimed that the suspension has been brought to the notice of the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and a high-level session has been called to discuss the issue.
“If this continues, questions would be raised regarding the transparency and fairness of General Elections,” remarked the minister.
Meanwhile, the president of Geo TV Network, Imran Aslam asserted that all five channels of the network were being shut across the country, and the blackout was not just limited to the upscale, military-controlled Defence Housing Authority (DHA).
“This is an attempt to financially cripple the organisation into submission. With the elections scheduled within months, some [people] feel that this could be a form of pre-poll rigging. We are told not to have high hopes from the Supreme Court,” opined the official.
The Geo News website has been carrying a message on its homepage informing viewers that access to information was their fundamental right, requesting them to inform the media house if they were not able to watch the transmission.
A couple of newsmen associated with the channel vent their anger on microblogging platform over the weekend, expressing dismay over the censorship while declaring to remain defiant.
بھائی ہم پر پہلی دفعہ نہیں آفت پڑی کئی دفعہ پابندیوں کا سامنا کیا ہے کبھی ملک سے نہیں بھاگے آپکے ممدوح مشرف نے بھی پابندی لگائی وہ تو بھاگ کیا ہم یہیں ہیں https://t.co/DZK9RsOMVL
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) April 1, 2018
#Geo shut down in several cities. Karachi, Lahore, Multan included. Cable operators say they are forced to do it. Government powerless. Financial choking, woes of workers is part of the worst, most blatant censorship we have faced in recent times.
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) April 1, 2018
Unseen forces, unseen actions, unknown reasons. Time and again it has been proven that ban is counterproductive, whether it on a party, person or on media. Yet, we have a habit of repeating same mistakes time and again..
— Mazhar Abbas (@MazharAbbasGEO) April 1, 2018
Silence is another form of expression. pic.twitter.com/97GEmFNDxe
— Umar Cheema (@UmarCheema1) April 1, 2018
Sir, the journalists' community especially thousands of journalists and employees working with Geo & Jang Group will wait for your action against aggressors & oppressors – the action from a democratically elected constitutional government.#WeWillWait#PressFreedom#Pakistan https://t.co/xR8oBojHAU
— Ahmad Noorani (@Ahmad_Noorani) March 31, 2018
I hold the government of prime minister Abbasi for what is illegally and forcibly putting Geo transmissions of the air and he must investigate and come clear on this blatant suppression of freedom of press and freedom of expressions and people’s right to know
— Imtiaz Alam (@ImtiazAlamSAFMA) April 1, 2018
Access to information is your fundamental right, keep watching Geo News https://t.co/FkjRN4gHTX
— Tariq Butt (@tariqbutt_) April 1, 2018
Freedom of Press shall be fully secured , access to information is a fundamental right ( Words from Constitution of Pakistan) “I solemnly take oath to protect preserve and defend the Constitution of Pakistan 🇵🇰” pic.twitter.com/2vGAlntPuu
— Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui (@QayyumReports) April 1, 2018