Commission demanded to probe change in Geo slot

LAHORE: Condemning the disruption of Geo News position on cable network, Supreme Court Bar Association’s former president Asma Jahangir has said that it has already happened to Geo in the past.

She said the Supreme Court, Lahore High Court and Islamabad High Court have already given their verdicts, directing Pemra to take action against those who indulge in such unlawful activities. And Pemra had given this commitment in the courts that it would monitor the cable operators and take action against such cable networks, she added. It is a violation of the law and Pemra should take action in this regard, she said.

Asma Jahangir said lawyers themselves could tell it better what they think of the issue; however, they stand by journalists and they would always support the media struggle for their rights.

Senior analyst Imtiaz Alam, who is also the secretary general of SAFMA, said that pushing Geo to last numbers on cable was an attack on the independence of the media. It is like exploiting the organisation economically so that it is closed down ultimately.

He said in a statement the Geo and Jang Group is again under attack as Geo broadcasts have been placed in the oblivion of tail Enders — a typical method of throwing you out of the market and denying people’s right to know. Geo and Jang had come under attack two years earlier- but it survived despite incurring huge losses that are not yet covered. It’s again being financially strangulated by curtailing its outreach in Karachi and elsewhere. The management was and is under tremendous pressure to compromise its freedom of expression and editorial autonomy. It is being pressurised to change its stance over the issues of democracy, fundamental rights and policy issues. Unfortunately, the elected governments are not taking a firm stand against the unlawful encroachments and diminishing of media freedom. If the politicians think that democracy will survive after the muzzling of press freedom, they live in fool’s paradise.

Commenting on pushing Geo to last numbers on cable, central convenor of Council of All Pakistan Press Clubs Arshad Ansari said that all journalists were with Geo News, because the channel did not terminate even a single worker despite facing curbs and problems.

Senior analyst Najam Sethi said that the timing of the current attack was very dangerous. Doing such a thing with Geo shows that a conspiracy is being hatched against the channel and gagging Geo is like silencing the biggest voice of the media, he added.

Former president of PFUJ Pervaiz Shaukat said that pushing Geo to last numbers was an attack on the independence of the media, and it would affect thousands of journalists.

Islamabad High Court Bar President Tariq Mehmood Jehangiri said disruption Geo position on cable network was a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution and an attack on the press freedom. He said everyone has the right to freedom of expression and it is an injustice to the most famous channel of Pakistan. He said it is the economic murder of the media workers, and journalists across Pakistan would protest against it.

Former president of PFUJ Afzal Butt appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take action against those responsible for this injustice to Geo channel.

Barrister Salahuddin said that clearly mentions that all the news channels would be placed in a single group and the cable operators changing their position was a violation of that.

Karachi Press Club President Fazil Jamili said journalists had protested against a similar attempt in the past and they would support Geo again at every forum.

Senior analyst Hamid Mir said those who did not have the guts to talk openly and those who lacked logic wanted to impose their agenda through a conspiracy and baseless allegations.

Senior journalist Iftikhar Ahmed said one could not support democracy and present people’s problems and desires in this manner.

Lahore Press Club Secretary Shadaab Riaz said there was no justification to place the country’s largest TV channel at the last numbers, which was tantamount to animosity to the channel and journalists.

LPC President Shahbaz Mian said that was a curb on freedom of expression. Although Pemra existed, it lacked the desired reputation and that’s why cable operators had become a mafia, he said.

Shahzeb Khanzada said the cable operators were a power which was used to manipulate the position of TV channels and used to blackmail Geo.

He said the court should be moved and complaints filed with Pemra if Geo was involved in something wrong.

National Press Club President Shakil Anjum said others would also face the same situation currently being faced by Geo and therefore everyone should unite and work together for the purpose.

Senior analyst Suhail Warraich said although there was a Constitution and democracy in the country, the actions being taken against Geo were against the law, Constitution and democracy.

Senior journalist Talat Hussain said if there’s anyone having any case against Geo, then a forum was available to fight the matter. The Jang Group representative stated that a judicial commission could be formed in case anyone had any material, Talat added.

Senior analyst Idrees Bakhtiar described the move as an attack on press freedom. He said such moves had never been practiced in any democratic country, as he demanded a probe into why Geo was being shut.

Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) President Ali Raza Alvi said that Geo was continuously under attack, which was a violation of the press freedom.

RIUJ General Secretary Bilal Dar said that it was strange that attacks on the press freedom were continuing, though a democratic government was in place in the country.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), along with the Geo administration, would move the Supreme Court of Pakistan if Geo News was not restored to its original position.

Chairman of the Free Legal Aid Committee of the PBC, Ch Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, said that those who loved yellow journalism were mistaken to believe that they would get something by using such tactics against Geo and Jang group. He said throwing Pakistan’s most popular channel on the last numbers was worst discrimination and violation of the basics provisions of the Constitution.

Another PBC leader, Shuaib Shaheen, said the freedom of media was being curbed in a technical way by throwing the channel on last number so that no one could find it on cable. PBC member Muhammad Aaqil lauded the step taken by the Pemra chairman, and advised the government to support it.

Islamabad High Court Bar Association Chairman Tariq Mehmood Jehangiri said the action against Geo violated Article 19 of the Constitution as it curbed freedom of expression. He demanded formation of an independent commission to probe the issue.

Islamabad District Bar Association President Syed Muhammad Tayyab said that the bar stood by Geo and demanded the prime minister take strict notice of the issue.

Human Rights Welfare Trust Chairman Kokab Iqbal urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the situation.

Jamaat-e-Islami leaders Sirajul Haq, Liaquat Baloch and Amirul Azeem said the move was a violation of the court orders and Pemra laws.

The News

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