KARACHI: Two key Pakistani television channels were shut in southern Pakistan on Tuesday amid protests by ruling party workers over reports against the country's embattled president, the channels said.
“Geo television remains off the air in Karachi and other parts of Sindh province,” its managing director, Azhar Abbas, said.
Workers of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) staged a protest outside its office in Karachi, he said.
A graffiti campaign has also been launched against Geo in Karachi while bundles of the Jang daily and English language The News owned by the same group were snatched and burnt in other cities and towns, he added.
“The cable operators have been threatened, their offices have been attacked, while hawkers have been warned that copies would be torched if they sell our newspapers,” he said.
“It is all being done by PPP activists and I am 100 per cent sure the government is behind this campaign,” Abbas said. It happened only in Sindh, President Asif Ali Zardari's home province.
The government denied involvement, saying it opposed such attacks.
“This is a conspiracy against our government, this is a media campaign against us,” provincial information minister Jamil Soomro told AFP.
“We will offer protection if cable operators asked,” he said.
Abbas said he believed the action followed a report Geo broadcast about a protestor who threw a shoe at Zardari during his just ended tour of Britain.
His trip despite devastating floods at home came under intense criticism from the media and opposition leaders.
Abbas said he believed the government was using the shoe-throwing incident as a pretext.
“In fact, it was planning a crackdown since long. They are unhappy because we have been highlighting corruption cases against government leaders,” he said.
Mohsin Raza, news director at ARY channel, said cable operators had blacked out his channel because it also reported the incident.
“The cable operators have told us they cannot broadcast our service because of threats from PPP workers,” he said. “They are using their party activists against us,” he said.
“We are consulting our lawyers to take up the matter to the Supreme Court.” – AFP