Gilani pledges to look into BBC ban

Published: December 12, 2011
In a statement issued in London, the BBC said Pakistan PM Gilani had pledged in an interview with the broadcaster that he would "look into" the ban. PHOTO: FILE

In a statement issued in London, the BBC said Pakistan PM Gilani had pledged in an interview with the broadcaster that he would "look into" the ban. PHOTO: FILE

LONDON: The BBC on Friday welcomed a promise by Pakistan’s prime minister to investigate the blocking of the BBC World News channel in the country after it showed a documentary about the Taliban.

In a statement issued in London, the BBC said Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had pledged in an interview with the broadcaster that he would “look into” the ban.

Gilani said in the interview that Pakistani authorities supported media freedom and had abolished “Draconian” laws from the past.

“And we have given freedom of media, and you are a witness here that how many channels are working day in and day out against the government. And if this is a specific which you have mentioned, I will look into it,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

“We remain deeply concerned that BBC World News has been taken off-air by the Cable Association of Pakistan,” a BBC spokesperson said.

“We welcome the prime minister’s support of free speech and promise to investigate this ban. We call on the government to carry out an investigation rapidly and for BBC services to be restored in Pakistan. We condemn any action that threatens our editorial independence and prevents audiences from accessing our impartial international news service,” the statement said.

Pakistani cable operators pulled the channel nationwide on November 29 amid a row over the “Secret Pakistan” documentary and amid anger over NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The two-part BBC documentary “Secret Pakistan” shown last month accuses parts of Pakistan’s intelligence service of complicity with Taliban militants.

Pakistan has aroused increasing criticism overseas and from human rights campaigners within the country over censorship. The row over the BBC saw people post links to the documentary on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Last month the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was forced to row back from banning text messages containing any of nearly 1,700 words, many of which were seemingly innocuous, following outrage from users and campaigners.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Nosherwan Shahid Shaikh
    Dec 12, 2011 - 1:07AM

    BBC was not being responsible in it behavior when it aired the Secret Pakistan documentary.


  • Tauseef
    Dec 12, 2011 - 1:30AM

    “Secret Pakistan” is the name of the documentary produced by BBC. I have watched the first part of the documentary – easily searchable on youtube – which has some nice things to say about the military’s double-crossing the Americans and Afghans.

    The documentary implores us to accept the truth as it stands and control our spy agencies who have been effectively running a separate foreign policy opposite to our stated civilian stance.


  • Cautious
    Dec 12, 2011 - 2:33AM

    When you can’t refute something you ban it — that about sum it up?


  • faraz
    Dec 12, 2011 - 3:14AM

    Such tactics dont work. The documentary was for the entire world, not just the few English speaking elite of Pakistan. Whether BBC was responsible or not, a ban would yield nothing


  • Dr. Who!
    Dec 12, 2011 - 3:22AM

    Shoot the messanger!
    We determine our own past, present and future. We are upto our eyeballs into “Strategic Depth” and sinking fast but don’t tell us to get out.


  • j. von hettlingen
    Dec 12, 2011 - 3:34AM

    I saw the two-part BBC documentary “Secret Pakistan” too: the Taliban were a parastatal organisation, the ISI was double crossing the U.S. etc. It didn’t flatten Pakistan at all and I understand certain people in the country would like to ban it.


  • Dec 12, 2011 - 3:58AM

    I sincerely hope Gilani does. Afterall, London bridge is falling down.


  • EX
    Dec 12, 2011 - 3:58AM

    We have every right to ban NBC . NBC has history of spreading rumour and half truths , it is funded by British govt to promote western agenda
    Boycott it


  • Pakistani in US
    Dec 12, 2011 - 5:48AM

    There is truth and nothing else in the documentary. These cable operators have no right to decide if the public should see it or not. Besides it’s on youtube already. They are just giving it more publicity by banning BBC.


  • Paki-Australian
    Dec 12, 2011 - 6:27AM

    BBC should be allowed to broadcast freely! Govt moved to ban when it’s interests we’re at stake. Pakistanis have a right to know – why ISI is association with world renowned terrorists? This doesn’t look good for us on the world stage!!

    West is not against Muslims/ Pakistan – its against lawlessness and terrorist heavens.Recommend

  • Arindom
    Dec 12, 2011 - 8:45AM

    Why just ban the BBC – people can access the truth via Internet – please ban the Internet too.


  • Pakistani in Pakistan
    Dec 12, 2011 - 11:45AM

    @Pakistani in US: This is the issue, that people sitting abroad believe what BBC is showing is truth. While ground realities are totally different and no doubt BBC is fully aware of real facts. I watched the documentary it simply suggesting that Pakistanis are double crossing the US… while the truth is that Pakistan is closest ally of US in this region since 1950, resisted USSR on front-lines. That was time when India was closest ally of USSR active against US and Pakistan. If what BBC saying is true then bigger question rises that why such close ally loosing trust for US now??


  • Pir Ali Raza
    Dec 12, 2011 - 11:47AM

    ‘Secret Pakistan’ is basically a biased, one side of the story. It does not show what role the Americans and its allies played in it and let me assure you, its a major one.


  • zzz
    Dec 12, 2011 - 1:34PM

    BBC is still on Air, who says its ban.


  • John
    Dec 12, 2011 - 6:15PM

    I had no idea about this documentary until the BBC was banned… Made me curious.. Once i watched it in youtube, i made sure i shared with hundreds of friends in facebook…. “If the cat closes its eyes, doesn’t mean the world has become dark”… Grow up people…


  • Imran Mohammad
    Dec 12, 2011 - 6:35PM

    Well, BBC’s attitude viz a viz Pakistan is very bad. They are biased against Pakistan. Just look at their website for Asia. All news are from India ( even the non-nonsensical news) but they don’t cover much from Pakistan except Taliban and war on terror etc. So, BBC needs to reflect on its own behavior too.

    I agree banning a news channel is counter-productive.


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