Pakistani police have arrested a senior executive at a popular mainstream television news channel after shutting down a station that was showing "inflammatory" content. The move was denounced as an attempt to suppress media freedom.
His ARY News, which is critical of Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif's coalition government, said on Wednesday that a police raid forced spokesman Ahmad Yousaf from his home in the port city of Karachi, where the agency's headquarters are located, without a warrant. said to have been arrested.
A senior state police officer, Muqadas Haider, admitted the arrest and Yousaf said he would appear in court within 24 hours.
The crackdown on one of Pakistan's largest and most watched private television channels drew condemnation from local and foreign media rights advocates.
The Pakistan Federation of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Wednesday urged Pakistani authorities to "immediately cease all legal action against ARY News employees and withdraw the order to stop transmission." asked.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Monday ordered capable carriers to urgently stop sending ARY news "until further notice." State regulators later sent a "show cause notice" accusing the station of broadcasting "false, hateful and inflammatory content."
PEMRA stated that "Your Channel Raises Serious Concerns About Your Malice." claimed to be.
The notice referred to former Prime Minister Imran Khan's close aide, Shahbaz Gill, appearing on his ARY News, claiming that he had commented, "Ordinary people in the military to rebellion,” he claimed.
“The suspension of his ARY News transmission by PEMRA, the arrest of Ahmad Yusaf, and his FIR [police case] registration against several of his ARY News employees constitute legal harassment of Pakistani media and a blatant act of censorship," he said, IFJ.
The group noted that the suspension affected viewers in Pakistan and India.
``The IFJ calls on the Government of Pakistan to protect the rights of all journalists and media personnel and to ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are upheld in accordance with the Pakistan Constitution.''
Prominent journalist and political analyst Mazar Abbas condemned Yousaf's disappearance and the ban on ARY News, and warned authorities against calling the media and workers traitors. "All these actions are illegal. Sadly, only the rulers have changed in this country, not the rules," Abbas said on Twitter.
Gill was later arrested on charges of "sedition" and "incitement to rebel." Politicians in court Wednesday spoke briefly with reporters and denied the allegations.
Pakistan ranks among the world's most dangerous countries for media personnel, Criticism of the military has long been viewed as a dangerous line.
Critics say sedition allegations are often used to intimidate and harass politicians, media outlets, and journalists critical of the military.
In recent weeks, cases of intimidation by several journalists to question Golden Hour have been registered, pointing to the military's alleged role in state affairs. The military denies allegations of meddling in the country's politics.
France-based Reporters Without Borders (known by its French acronym RSF) last month warned the Pakistani military high command against media harassment, saying such tactics He said it would "seriously undermine" Pakistan's democracy.
“The many cases of harassment registered by the RSF in the last two months have one thing in common: all the journalists involved criticize the military's role in Pakistani politics in one way or another. I was,” said Daniel. The bastard in charge of RSF's Asia-Pacific desk.