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Television news channels forced off the air in Karachi due to threats

This article was originally published on pakistanpressfoundation.org on 27 October 2014.

Several television news channels went off the air for about six hours on the afternoon of Saturday October 25, 2014 in Karachi and other parts of Sindh province after threats were issued by unidentified men
over the telephone to some cable operators.

Without naming any political party, the president of the Cable Operators Association, Khalid Arain, said they were threatened by a political party and ordered to suspend the transmission of these channels. The cable operators had no other option but to comply with this request.

According to the daily The Nation, Arain said this party wanted to shut the channels' transmissions as they had allegedly not given due coverage to their recent event. "They threatened to set our systems on
fire," he said.

One faction of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) however put the blame on Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the largest political party of urban Sindh province, and asked the party to issue an apology for this illegal act within 24 hours. The PFUJ press release said that if MQM failed to apologize, press clubs and media organisations would hold protest demonstrations against it.

PFUJ President Muhammad Afzal Butt and its General Secretary Khursheed Abbasi warned that if MQM failed to apologize, the journalistic fraternity will not only boycott the programs arranged by MQM but will stage protests
outside venues of these ceremonies as well.

Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Iman Memon strongly condemned the forced closure of the news channels. He said the government would not allow anyone to take the media "hostage" through verbal threats or at gun-point.

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