Geo’s blackout not at behest of Pemra or Information Ministry: Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD – Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal cleared the air on Sunday that neither Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) nor the Ministry of Information had issued any directives for the suspension of news channel Geo News.

Expressing concerns over the suspension of the channel- dubbed No.1 by independent sources – in certain parts of the country, the minister said that only Pemra had the right to suspend the transmission of any channel.

The legislator claimed that the suspension has been brought to the notice of the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and a high-level session has been called to discuss the issue.

“If this continues, questions would be raised regarding the transparency and fairness of General Elections,” remarked the minister.

Meanwhile, the president of Geo TV Network, Imran Aslam asserted that all five channels of the network were being shut across the country, and the blackout was not just limited to the upscale, military-controlled Defence Housing Authority (DHA).

“This is an attempt to financially cripple the organisation into submission. With the elections scheduled within months, some [people] feel that this could be a form of pre-poll rigging. We are told not to have high hopes from the Supreme Court,” opined the official.

The Geo News website has been carrying a message on its homepage informing viewers that access to information was their fundamental right, requesting them to inform the media house if they were not able to watch the transmission.

A couple of newsmen associated with the channel vent their anger on microblogging platform over the weekend, expressing dismay over the censorship while declaring to remain defiant.