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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Pakistan raises storm over PEMRA’s suspension of ARY channel

ARY getting suspended for airing an expose on the government is sparking a strong reaction from civil society.

Netizens are slamming the incumbent government and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for suspending ARY News, that too mid-transmission.

The transmission of ARY News was suspended in different parts of the country on Monday evening following the orders of PEMRA to the cable operators. It was also suspended in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, and other cities.

Read more: PML-N govt bars access to ARY?

According to the details, ARY was suspended after the channel reported that the incumbent PML-N-led government has allegedly activated its strategic media cell to malign PTI and its chairman Imran Khan. It also has been building a narrative to prove PTI as an anti-armed forces power. The report on PML-N activating its media cell turned out to be true.

Netizens slam government

Needless to say, ARY getting suspended for airing an expose on the government is sparking a strong reaction from civil society. The journalistic community has, of course, condemned the suspension as it is against freedom of speech, however, the majority of the public, along with PTI, is calling out the government for what is being considered a “fascist move.”

In a statement, PFUJ President Afzal Butt demanded the PEMRA to immediately restore ARY News transmission and warned of countrywide protests if the transmission was not restored within 24 hours.

Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas condemned PEMRA’s decision to suspend ARY which is against its own rules and regulations. Mazhar Abbas stated that instead of suspending the channel, the matter should have been taken to the Council of Complaints.

Meanwhile, journalist Matiullah Jan – who is often at odds with PTI – agreed with Mazhar Abbas that the suspension of ARY without warning as per law is condemnable.

On the other hand, several PTI leaders including Shireen Mazari, Shahbaz Gill, and others took to Twitter and condemned PEMRA’s illegal act.

Moreover, #RestoreARYNews has become one of the top Twitter trends in Pakistan as netizens voice support for ARY and demand its restoration.

Read more: Facebook & Twitter will quit Pakistan if freedom of speech is curbed

Important to note that ever since PML-N came into power, ARY has been suspended more than once for being critical of the government and for its active media coverage of PTI. ARY is also one of Pakistan’s most popular media channels.

Interestingly, the suspension of ARY News transmission is a clear violation of Islamabad High Court (IHC) orders which barred PEMRA from closure and relegation of ARY News to lower numbers on TV channels sequence.