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Pakistan: Dubai Should End Shutdown of Pakistani Channels
by via HRW
Tuesday Nov 20th, 2007 6:46 AM
(New York, November 20, 2007) – The Dubai government should allow Geo Television and ARY Digital, which broadcast from Dubai and function as Pakistan’s most independent and respected television stations, to resume operations immediately, Human Rights Watch said today. Musharraf isn’t content with muzzling critical media coverage of his repression within Pakistan – now he is pressuring Dubai to abet his crackdown on independent reporting.
On November 17, the Dubai authorities summarily gave Geo Television and ARY Digital two hours to halt broadcasting after persistent pressure from the Pakistani government. Both channels, which are registered in Dubai, have been off the air in Pakistan since November 3, when cable operators were instructed to end transmissions. But the channels had continued to broadcast on satellite and the internet until they were shut down on Saturday by the Dubai government.

Human Rights Watch welcomed the show of support for media freedom by the US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, when she visited the Geo offices in Karachi on Monday. The organization urged the Bush administration to also press the authorities in Dubai to reverse their decision to close Geo and ARY Digital.

“Musharraf isn’t content with muzzling critical media coverage of his repression within Pakistan – now he is pressuring Dubai to abet his crackdown on independent reporting,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The US should publicly call on its close ally in Dubai to lift the bans. Dubai’s government should refuse to be an accomplice to Musharraf’s assault on free speech.”

After Pakistan’s leader, General Pervez Musharraf, announced a state of emergency on November 3 and issued a draconian censorship decree on the media, private Pakistani television networks were instructed to sign a new 14-page code of conduct by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). While many channels have signed and agreed to discontinue specific programming deemed objectionable by the government, Geo TV and ARY Digital have refused to accept the new rules.

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