Pakistan: Thinly veiled attempt at censorship and information controls

Islamabad, May 27, 2014: We strongly condemn the efforts to ‘ban’ Geo television channels, as we see this as a clear attempt at censorship. We cannot, and do not, support censorship in any form. Further, the onslaught on the Geo/Jang group is an attack on civil liberties in the garb of 'national' and 'religious' interests. 
 
The current push to shut down one of the largest television channels is a vengeful act that reeks of a desire to force regressive information controls, and set a draconian precedent in order to serve as reminder to anyone thinking of challenging powerful authorities. We see the current pressure build up against the Geo/Jang group, and the illegal blackout of its channels from the cable network as an ill-conceived attempt at censorship and control by the state, which we will resist to the utmost.
 
Freedom of Expression is an inviolable fundamental right and we see the targeting of one media group as an attack on that freedom, not merely of one media group but of society as a whole.
 
Whilst an editorial misjudgment by the Jang Group can be penalised via an independent process, the group must not be singled out. Most media groups have indulged in similar if not worse misdemeanours. Hence any action must take all such instances into account and demonstrate an even standard for all. Any attempt to isolate, vilify and bring down one media group will be seen as a blatant attempt by the state to divide and weaken the institution of journalism as a whole; it will be seen as a strike on a vital pillar of democracy; as an attack on the eyes and ears of the people.
 
 
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Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is a human rights organization and a network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and practitioners. It experiments and organizes debate on the relevance of ICTs for sustainable development and strengthening social justice movements in the country. Its mission is “ICTs for development, democracy and social justice”. www.bytesforall.pk
 
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