Home Politics Pakistan’s Media Clampdown: Ban on Ex-PM Imran Khan’s Speeches and Suspension of ARY News Channel

Pakistan’s Media Clampdown: Ban on Ex-PM Imran Khan’s Speeches and Suspension of ARY News Channel

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Pakistan’s Media Clampdown: Ban on Ex-PM Imran Khan’s Speeches and Suspension of ARY News Channel

In a concerning move, Pakistan authorities have enforced a ban on satellite television channels airing live and recorded speeches by former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Additionally, the license of the privately owned television broadcaster ARY News has been suspended, eliciting strong condemnation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), the country’s broadcast regulator, issued the ban on the evening of Sunday, March 5, with immediate effect starting Monday. Violators of this ban face the risk of having their licenses canceled, according to reports.

Hours after the ban was announced, PEMRA suspended ARY News’ license for broadcasting a speech by Khan, as confirmed by ARY News CEO Salman Iqbal in a conversation with CPJ. As of Monday evening, ARY News remains off the air.

Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, strongly condemned these actions, labeling them as direct assaults on press freedom and the right to information. Yi urged the authorities to reverse these acts of censorship promptly, emphasizing the importance of allowing the media to report on crucial political developments in the country without hindrance.

The ban came in response to a speech by Khan, the leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, wherein he accused former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa of orchestrating his removal from power in April 2022. Authorities had attempted to arrest Khan on corruption charges prior to the speech, without success.

Despite other Pakistani television channels also airing Khan’s speech, ARY News was singled out for license suspension. The broadcaster intends to challenge this suspension by filing a petition at the Sindh High Court on Tuesday, according to Iqbal.

Meanwhile, according to reports, Imran Khan filed a petition at the Lahore High Court on Monday, contesting the ban imposed on his speeches. This isn’t the first time PEMRA has restricted live telecasts of Khan’s speeches; similar bans were enforced in August and November 2022, only to be overturned later.

These actions underscore a troubling trend of censorship and restriction of media freedoms in Pakistan, raising concerns about the country’s commitment to democratic principles and freedom of expression.

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