Riding the wave of anger over last weekend’s North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) attacks on Pakistan Army border posts, cable operators across the country have threatened to block any international channel that carries anti-Pakistan content while taking BBC off the air for its documentary 'Secret Pakistan’.
Cable operators began shutting down transmission of BBC’s World News late on Tuesday night and the unofficial ban remained through the day on Wednesday. Other international news networks like CNN, Fox News and Sky News were running uninterrupted amid reports suggesting that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) may summon BBC for an explanation.
The threat to block channels beaming anti-Pakistan content was made by the Cable Operators Association which also urged PEMRA to cancel the landing rights of BBC and other channels maligning the country. The axe fell on the BBC soon after primarily because of the documentary `Secret Pakistan’ which was aired here over the weekend while it had been unveiled worldover last month-end.
Soon after the documentary first went on air, the Foreign Office had issued a statement rejecting the assertions made in the BBC documentary. ``Fiction such as those depicted in the series cannot belittle Pakistan’s sacrifices and contribution in countering terrorism.’’
The BBC World News Press Office in a statement expressed concern over the Association’s decision. ``We condemn any action that threatens our editorial independence and prevents audiences from accessing our impartial international news service. We would urge that BBC World News and other international news services are reinstated as soon as possible.’’
The blocking of BBC has drawn considerable ire within Pakistan with tweets and posts galore on Facebook that questioned the double standards; given the kind of play certain hate mongers get on Pakistani news channels. “Where was PEMRA when a rabid anchor incited murder against the governor [Salman Taseer]? Why do Pakistani TV channels have the liberty to air Taliban loving media mujahideen and to destroy public discourse? Where was PEMRA when a rabid televangelist incited murder against Shias and Ahmedis on prime time shows? Why was no action taken?” were some of the questions doing the rounds.