Banning ‘Anti-Pakistan’ Foreign Channels: At Variance With Reason

‘The All Pakistan Cable Operators Association declared that they will shut down all foreign news channels airing “anti-Pakistan” content from tomorrow. The decision to shut the channels comes after a media uproar both locally and abroad following a Nato air strike that killed 24 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border.

The operators named BBC News as one of the channels to be closed down, citing their documentary “Secret Pakistan” as one of the reasons for the decision.

The documentary series which aired in Pakistan explored accusations by CIA officials and western diplomats that Pakistan was failing to live up to its alliances in the war on terror.”

Pakistan is currently in paucity of electricity, gas, political stability, peace and most palpably; sanity and rationale.

As a nation gladly reigned over by emotionalism and sentimentality, thus possessing a wild tendency to act unnecessarily foolishly and thoughtlessly; such a decision by the APCOA is just another testament to the times Pakistan is in today, where absurdity is the order of the day.

With the term ‘Anti-Pakistan’ being of an entirely ambiguous and vague  nature, with no definite meaning or criterion to adumbrate the exact content that comes within its scope – the interpretation of what precisely is ‘Anti-Pakistan’ ( which is something that will vary for people to people based on their own perception and opinion), has been left completely to the APCOA, who shall be deciding it by their own choice and judgement and taking off channels in response.

Exactly what and how will this ban achieve anything is a question that seems to have been lent not even slight deliberation by them.

Why are channels that brazenly embrace prejudiced approaches, wrongly act as Moral Entrepreneurs, air hate-inducing reports against other countries, people and groups within Pakistan itself, broadcast misleading programmes, false and exagerrated stories, stir up otiose ruckuses, flagrantly stomp upon and away on all media responsibility, treat sensitive issues with sensationalisation, further the bedlam that has become ever-existent in the country – neither shut down nor disciplined by the tight rope of castigation?

Just a day back, a private TV channel demonstrated its disgusting temerity by inviting the vile Ludhianvi of Sipah-e-Sahaba at the very start of Muharram, for whom a platform to propogate his views is the last thing needed, who spewed his usual hostility for the Shias, inciting malice, murder through his expression of sordid animosity.

PEMRA’s inaction despite these situations persisting and dominating the media, is certainly deplorable.

Closing down any international or national medium of information will, if anything, help in one sole way; help deepen Pakistan’s isolation from the world.

As Pakistan Media Watch writes:

‘Regardless of Khalid Arain’s desire to protect the national sentiments, he can’t turn off BBC’s satellite. The rest of the world is still tuned in.

Blacking out BBC will not make the offending documentary disappear. Neither will it convince anyone that the information contained in it is incorrect. Actually, it may make people more curious by suggesting that there is something to hide. This is why censorship never works – even when it’s self-censorship. If we don’t like a programme, we can turn off our sets ourselves. We don’t need the government deciding what we can and cannot watch, and we don’t need the military deciding what we can and cannot watch, and we don’t need All Pakistan Cable Operators Association deciding either.’

This decision is ridiculous at its best, and a classic case of the Ostrich or ‘Aal Iz Well’ Syndrome; at variance with all logic and reason.

~ Hafsa Khawaja