Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Pakistan news channel pulled off air for anti-military segment

Pakistani authorities have suspended transmission of a leading television news channel after a segment was aired about the armed forces that was deemed a threat to national security.

ARY News, which is seen as sympathetic towards former premier Imran Khan, was taken off air late Monday by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), dpa news agency quoted the channel’s management as saying.

The channel had aired a segment on Monday wherein an advisor to Khan alleged the ruling party of being behind a smear campaign against the army.

The report also suggested that army officers should not follow “illegal and unconstitutional orders” from their higher ups.

Hours later, the channel’s transmission was cut.

PEMRA said that the channel aired content that was “highly objectionable, hateful, seditious, based on absolute disinformation with clear and present threat to national security by instigating rebellion within the armed forces with the clear malafide intent to cause discord and rift between the federal government and rank and files of armed forces”.

ARY News has faced suspensions in the past and has also been fined in Britain for airing unsubstantiated news items against politicians.

The government has already launched investigations to identify those behind an online smear campaign targeting the military after a senior commander and five others were killed in a helicopter crash during a flood relief operation last week.

Leaders from the ruling coalition and Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) point fingers at each other for the anti-military campaign.

Press freedom has suffered a huge blow in recent years. Several journalists have been tortured, kidnapped, intimidated and made jobless for allegedly criticizing the military and spy agencies.

The military rulers target the country’s independent media and journalists through laws activists describe as outrageous and authoritarian.

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