The Centre for Peace and Democracy has condemned the All Pakistan Cable Operators Association decision to stop airing BBC World as an “intolerable interference” in press freedom.
The ban will result in millions of viewers across Pakistan being deprived of their right of access to information, said Muhammad Shoaib Adil, the CPD’s executive director, in a statement released on Thursday. The CPD is a non-government organisation that aims to promote secular and democratic values in the country.
Adil accused the cable operators of taking the step at the behest of the establishment.
The cable operators made the announcement at a press conference earlier this week, citing the BBC programme Secret Pakistan as one of the reasons.
Adil said that by imposing a unilateral ban on a news channel, the cable operators were “dictating their terms” to the viewers. He said their action was an abuse of power.
He said that the media was at the centre of the struggle to restore democratic values in Pakistan and curbing it would set back this struggle. He said all Pakistan’s governments had sought to control the press to keep a check on public debate and criticism.
He said the current government had taken very few steps to ensure the freedom of the press, and its failure to take action against the cable operators for taking the BBC off air was the latest example of its lack of commitment to this freedom.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2011.