The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) expressed concern over the sudden closure of television channels and their transmission following police operation against protesters in Islamabad on Saturday.
The access to television channels and social media sites was restricted after the arbitrary order of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
In a joint statement, APNS President Sarmad Ali President and Secretary General Umar Mujib Shami strongly condemned PEMRA for ordering the closure of TV channels and preventing live coverage of police action against the ‘Faizabad dharna’ [Faizabad protest].
The APNS stated that the objective could have been achieved if the stakeholders were duly consulted.
“The sudden and arbitrary action has caused grave confusion and flow of rumours among people exploited by the vested interest which has resulted deterioration of law and order situation all over the country,” read the statement.
The APNS also stated that any step to curb freedom of press has proven to be counter productive in any democratic dispensation.
They urged the federal government to immediately withdraw the PEMRA action and consult the stakeholders for the guiding measures of the coverage of the operation.
After PEMRA’s orders to take all news channels off air, social media access via internet browsers to Facebook, Youtube and Twitter were also blocked Saturday afternoon.
The access to services was temporarily restored after 3pm but was blocked again shortly after.
PEMRA directed news channels to ensure the security of their staff while the situation persisted; in light of which, Geo News as per its tradition of responsible reporting was and continues to abide by the rules.
Earlier, PEMRA had barred media from live coverage of Islamabad operation under Media Code of Conduct 2015.
While Facebook, Twitter and Youtube were blocked across Pakistan on internet browsers, Geo.tv had received reports from certain users who are still able to access the services.
The operation to clear Faizabad Interchange from protesters staging a sit-in, which had commenced early morning on Saturday, was put on hold later in the day. According to reports, the operation against protesters was suspended at approximately 2:30 PM.
The situation remains tense in the federal capital.
Heavy contingents of police, FC and Rangers were deployed to the interchange, where they used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters, who had paralysed the federal capital for almost three weeks.
At least 200 people have been injured in the clashes including 90 police and FC personnel.
Following the operation, protests were staged in different cities including Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Peshawar among others.