June 14, 2008

Media curbs

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 8:56 pm
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JUNE 15, 2008


THE President is getting a bad press. Firstly, it is the way he is being projected and second, it is the indifference of the state-run electronic media to give him proper coverage that seem to pester him the most. Reportedly, a complaint by presidential spokesman Maj Gen (retd) Rashid Qureshi was registered with the Information Ministry that PTV was found wanting in its duty to cover the President’s day-to-day activities. There is indeed little justification for the complaint, since Musharraf has been totally isolated in the last few weeks and except for a meeting with a carefully selected group of journalists he had remained in hibernation. Moreover, his projection or rather lack of it is merely the reflection of the popular sentiment in the country.
However, on the other side of the spectrum, a disturbing development has occurred. Authorities in Dubai have asked a Pakistani private TV channel situated there to stop its transmission. While no explanation has been issued by the concerned authorities about the reasons for placing the restriction, the TV channel cites its support for the movement for the restoration of the judges and opposition to President Musharraf as the main causes. Not surprisingly, there are speculations that the ban was placed at the behest of President Musharraf probably since it was his regime which placed curbs on the media on the pretext of Emergency on November 3.
But it is useless blaming the President now. It was indeed sad to see Information Minister Sherry Rehman telling journalists that her government had nothing to do with this restriction on the TV channel in Dubai. She should realise that being at the helm places the responsibility on her and her boss to explain whatever happens to the media. Her failure to be candid about who was actually responsible for this is unfortunate indeed. This is liable to raise more questions.


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