Pakistan revokes permit for ARY News channel over alleged anti-army remark - GulfToday

Pakistan revokes permit for ARY News channel over alleged anti-army remark


Employees of ARY News hold placards during a protest against the channel being taken off air by the government in Karachi on Saturday. AFP

Pakistani authorities revoked a broadcast permit for a private television station after it was taken off air following an interview during which an opposition party official allegedly incited troops and officers against the military leadership.

The cancellation of lincence will mean economic murder of more than 4,000 media professionals associated with the news channel, ARY News said.

The development came after ARY TV in the southern port city of Karachi on Monday aired the interview with Shahbaz Gill, a close aide of former prime minister Imran Khan and the chief of staff for his Tehrik-e-Insaf opposition party.

In the interview, Gill urged Pakistani troops and officers to refuse to obey "illegal orders” from the military - remarks that were seen by authorities as incitement to revolt. He was subsequently arrested on treason charges and could face the death penalty.

The TV station's news director, Ammad Yousaf, was detained following the interview but then released on Thursday, after an outcry from a media watchdog, rights defenders and top opposition leaders.

ARY has distanced itself from Gill’s remarks, stressing that it is not part of any campaign against the army. Still, Pakistan's media regulatory took the station off air and on Friday suspended its licence amid what it described as "adverse reports from agencies.”

The move drew condemnation from journalists and opposition leaders. ARY's founder, Salman Iqbal, also denounced the suspension.

Asad Kaleem, an executive producer at ARY, told The Associated Press that the action means that 4,000 employees at the TV are now without work. He pleaded with the government to reverse its decision and bring the hugely popular ARY back on air.

Associated Press


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