Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto on July 9 alleged that freedom of press in Pakistan had become ‘non-existent’ under the ‘fascist’ ruling government in the wake of recent incidents of media blackout in the South Asian nation.
“I heard last night that three TV channels — Channel 24, Abb Takk and Capital TV — had been pulled off-air without any notice or due process. This is an absolutely obnoxious and outrageous attack on the freedom of the press,” Dawn quoted Bilawal, as saying.
“The media and journalists are being pressurised. Journalists are being forced to compromise on their personal freedom. Journalists cannot express their views freely in newspapers, and they cannot tweet on their Twitter accounts. If they (dare to) do so, their Twitter accounts will be shut,” he said.
Bilawal’s comments came a day after three Pakistani news channels were taken off air in many cities across the country, prompting Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz to term the incident as ‘unbelievable fascism’ and a ‘shame.’
“Unbelievable fascism. Shame,” Maryam, the daughter of jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had tweeted.
Reportedly, on the orders of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), three news channels — Channel-24, Abb Takk and Capital TV — have been put off air for showing a live speech of Maryam.
“I have already said, also on the floor of the National Assembly, that censorship does not resolve issues. Once again, the frustration you are suppressing today will find a way out one day in one way or another and it will have negative consequences,” Bilawal said.
On July 7, PEMRA had earlier issued notices to 21 TV channels for ‘unedited live telecast’ of Maryam’s press conference in Lahore, in which she had released a purported video of Accountability Court judge Arshad Malik telling a PML-N worker that there was a lack of evidence against Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case and that he was “pressurised and blackmailed” to convict him.
Previously on July 1, an interview of former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari conducted by the country’s senior journalist Hamid Mir was taken off air on Geo News channel within a few minutes of broadcasting.
The incident took place against the backdrop of Zardari’s arrest in a multi-million-dollar money laundering case.
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