Press release, November 18
LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern at two independent news channels being taken off air in Sindh on Monday and called the action an ‘unpardonable attack on freedom of expression’.
A statement issued by the Commission on Tuesday said: “The suspension of transmission of two private sector news TV channels in Sindh yesterday was obviously the result of strong arm tactics against cable operators by people in authority, and this at a time when the anniversary of curbs imposed on one of the channels last year was being observed.
Both the federal and provincial governments have denied involvement in the suspension reminiscent of similar practices last year by General Musharraf’s dictatorial regime. The government cannot absolve itself of responsibility simply by saying that it was not behind the suspension. It must also ensure that no one else can do that. In a country where blocking transmission of illegal FM radio stations run by religious fanatics takes the government years, it is disconcerting to note the ease with which officially authorised news channels can be muzzled.
There are legal ways to address any grievances against the TV channels without resorting to such unpardonable attacks on freedom of expression.”
Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson