Sat Mar 14, 2009 by Anil Kalhan
SAJAforum: Geo TV Blocked, Sherry Rehman Resigns
Everything old appears to be new again in Pakistan. The latest: government bans on independent television news coverage.
On the heels of an emergency crackdown earlier this week, in which the government of President Asif Ali Zardari responded to the “Long March” organized by the lawyers movement by banning public gatherings and reportedly detained hundreds of opposition lawyers and political workers, Zardari has also moved to block transmission of Geo TV throughout the country:
On the direct order of President Asif Ali Zardari, the transmission of the Geo News was blocked by cable operators in various parts of the country on Friday, which drew flak from across the country.
The transmission was blocked in some parts of Karachi, Hyderabad,
Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Quetta, Multan, Rawalakot, Muzaffarabad, Deepalpur, Sargodha, Nawabshah, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Dera Murad Jamali. [link]
Geo and other TV news channels were previously blocked — for much the same reasons as the present ban by Zardari — by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, first as the lawyers’ movement was gaining momentum in the spring of 2007 and later after Musharraf declared a state of “emergency” in November 2007.
The Geo ban has apparently prompted the resignation of Information Minister Sherry Rehman, a leading member of the Pakistan People’s Party and close confidante of the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto: