Pakistan’s media regulation authority has taken a private television news channel, ARY news, off air for 15 days after accusing it of “maligning” the country’s judiciary.
A statement made the regulatory body said the channel, which is purported to be anti-government, had been shut effective immediately following a court order, the Associated Press news agency reported on Tuesday.
“The authority also noted that the channel has [a] chronic history of non-compliance of PEMRA Laws,” read the statement, which was issued on Monday.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is responsible for regulating stations and issuing channel licenses in the country.
ARY TV has also been ordered to pay a fine of $97,000. In a ruling issued last week,the court also banned one of its anchors, Mubashar Luqman, from appearing on any national television.
There is simply no justification for the Pakistani authorities to silence sections of the media solely because of their political leanings.
But there are allegations that the ban is linked to the infighting among Pakistan’s numerous media outlets over their view and coverage of the two-month-long anti-government protests which were led by cricketer turned politician Imran Khan and a populist Muslim leader Tahir ul-Qadri.
They were demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down over alleged election fraud.
Mustafa Qadri, a Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International is quoted on its website saying, “ARY TV must be immediately allowed back on air. There is simply no justification for the Pakistani authorities to silence sections of the media solely because of their political leanings.”
On social media websites like Twitter, people were showing their support for the channel with #WeSupportARY becoming the top trending hashtag in Pakistan.
It is the second time in a little over four months that the national watchdog has suspended a television station after GEO News was taken off air in June over a row with the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).