Pakistan’s Geo TV channel forced to go off air; reports claim military hand, govt denies interference

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Pakistan’s Geo TV news channel has been taken off air in many parts of the country with reports claiming that cable operators are being forced to suspend the channel on orders of the country’s military.
According to New York Times, in March, the channel was shut down in cantonment areas and residential neighborhoods that are administered by the Pakistani military. Later, all the Geo channels started being blocked across the country by cable operators.
Speaking with the newspaper, Mir Ibrahim Rahman, the chief executive of the GEO Television network, said, “We are off the air in 80 percent of the country.”
Although, according to News18, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has said that it has not asked cable operators to stop broadcasting the channels — and even put out a notice asking them not to disrupt Geo’s transmissions. The report quoted Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal as saying that the incumbent government did not order the suspension of the channel. However, Iqbal failed to explain why the channel faces a blackout across the country.
According to The Times of India, the blackout may be due to its reports and articles which are critical of the Pakistan Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and his domestic and foreign policy preferences which have outraged the generals.
In March, the Channel had also shared a post via its official Twitter handle, urging viewers to file complaints with the authorities if they don’t find the channel on their TV sets.
This isn’t the first time Geo TV has faced the axe, though.
According to BBC, the channel was shut down for 15 days in 2014 after the country’s defence ministry filed a complaint against the channel for unfairly linking Pakistan’s spy agency ISI to an attack on a Geo talk show host in Karachi.
Speaking with The Guardian, the channel’s president Imran Aslam had then said, “The forces of might have prevailed. It seems that justice has bowed down to forces that are above the law”.

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