Pakistan TV channels banned in Kashmir

April 24th, 2008 - 6:08 pm ICT by admin  


Srinagar, April 24 (IANS) The airing of Pakistani television channels by local cable operators has been banned following directives from the union information and broadcasting ministry, an official said here Thursday. “As per the orders given by the government of India we have directed the cable operators to block all Pakistan based television channels,” Sheikh Aijaz Iqbal district magistrate Srinagar told the media here Thursday. Iqbal was the first district-level officer to act upon the ban in the state.

The banned Pakistani television channels include PTV, Geo television, ARY and Aaj.

All these channels, which are free to air, were being beamed by the local cable operators to their subscribers in Kashmir.

The ban order has evoked strong reactions from some quarters here.

Talking to IANS here Thursday, Irfan Ahmad Narwaru, vice president of Take One Television Network, which is the nodal agency for the cable operations in the Valley, said: “We are under pressure from our subscribers to air these Pakistan-based television channels, but we cannot violate the directives of the district magistrate.”

“We shall definitely be requesting the owners of these channels to register themselves with the union information and broadcasting ministry so that we are able to beam these channels to our subscribers.”

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, criticized the ban order.

Talking to the media persons here, Mirwaiz said: “Blocking of these channels is cultural aggression. This is part of the psychological operation by the Indian government. Kashmir has religious and cultural links with Pakistan and it is unethical to ban all Pakistan TV channels.”

President of the ruling alliance Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti has termed the ban order as unfortunate.

“This is very unfortunate. Somebody is trying to infringe the rights of the media and the chief minister must take up the issue with the government of India,” Mehbooba Mufti told the media here.

Zafar Shah, a lawyer, also criticized the order saying it can be challenged in the court of law. “The order can be challenged in the court of law,” Shah told a local newspaper here.

Common people here are also feeling that the ban order is arbitrary.

“When the entire world is shrinking because of free access to information, how can you ban any television channel? It looks like the ban order was imposed arbitrarily,” said Muzaffar Ahmad, a professor.

“We watch Pakistani television channels for news, serials and cultural programmes. It is unfair to ban them. We would really miss them on the cable,” said Abdul Hamid, 23, a university student.

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