KARACHI: The Sindh government has slapped a ban on live media coverage of the legislative assembly’s proceedings, citing security risks.
The Sindh Assembly speaker imposed the ban on television crews on Monday, allowing only reporters and photographers to cover the assembly session.
“No one will be allowed to carry a TV camera. Only reporters and photographers can come and cover the assembly. Please give the electronic media access to the assembly’s transmission system by setting up a media box outside the assembly, where cameras or DSNG cables can be plugged in for coverage,” said Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani’s in his directive to the assembly staff.
Officials told The Express Tribune the move to ban TV crews from Sindh Assembly came after a few ministers cried foul of channels focusing on unnecessary issues, especially those making “funny packages”.
The Sindh Assembly was the only legislature in Pakistan where TV cameramen were allowed to record the proceedings.
While some reports suggested the decision was taken at a PPP meeting, parliamentary leader Nisar Ahmed Khuhro rebutted the claim. “It was purely the assembly’s decision and the speaker is authorised to take such decisions. The PPP has nothing to do with it,” he said.
Speaker Durrani, however, said it was the PPP government, which gave permission for the live telecast of Sindh Assembly proceeding s in 2013.
“Live coverage is not allowed in any other provincial assembly or even parliament,” he said, adding the ban will be lifted after security clearance. “There are reports of terrorist activity inside the assembly and suspects can take advantage of TV cameras.”
Recently, a vigilante journalist along with his recording team had entered the assembly building with a concealed gun to highlight inadequate security measures at the provincial legislature.
Since then, all media passes issued by the information department have been cancelled.
The opposition parties have also condemned the speaker’s decision to impose the ban on live transmission and announced taking up the issue on the assembly floor.
“The PPP claims to be the champion of democracy, but with this decision they have proven that it is afraid of the freedom of media,” PML-F parliamentary leader Nand Kumar said.