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Posts tagged with: GeoTV

Update @ 0944: CEO of Geo TV sends message on extent of media clampdown

The following comes in, via a Facebook e-mail exchange, from Mir Ibrahim Rahman who is the CEO of Geo TV in Pakistan, a channel which has been blocked by the Pakistani government who has also begun talks with foreign governments to have the channel’s transmission blocked overseas. In his message, Mir, states that he is safe at the moment despite having received numerous death threats, his TV network along with the Jang newspaper group been victimized while senior hosts, journalists, producers and the chairman have all had their phones bugged and recorded:
I am kind of Okay. They have shut down all our channels. I can’t believe Musharraf has become what he has become. I still feel sorry for him though. I cant believe THAT more than anything else. Anyway, pray for Pakistan. It needs it. Things are a lot worse than you think, since you are probably not watching what is going on as all of Pakistan’s private news channels have been blocked for past 6 days.

Tomorrow they are going to revise the army act, which will give them powers similar to that of the infamous patriots act where they can ‘court martial’ civilians even and hold them without due process or cause for months at a time. Another nail in the coffin of our constitution. actually its only now that I have truly begun to have felt the power of and appreciated words and promises. I guess which is what our or any constitution is- when I realized what life can be without them. we normally don’t feel it. I guess, apart from some of our lawyer friends. and most of us definitely think the common man will definitely not feel it as he or she has many more important things to think about and worry about than a bunch of words written in a book 40 years ago.

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View Geo TV in Pakistan via satellite

Satellite: PAS 10 Position: 68.5 degrees east Downlink: band c Frequency 4124mhz Polarity V Symbol: 19850 Fec: 3/4

Some more links on Geo.tv

  1. Geo Tv Blackballed because of Imran Khan
  2. Govt Bans Kamran Khan’s GEO.tv Show
  3. Wukla Cola – a Geo.tv spin of ‘Brrr’ Coke commercial
  4. Geo News Blocked in Sindh
  5. Geo back on air in Pakistan

Update @ 0244: Geo TV’s website back online

Geo TV is now back online and have posted an announcement on their homepage stating that due to enormously heavy traffic on their website, they are presenting a light text-version with latest news updates while the full version of the website will be available in a few hours. A summary of the main points of Musharraf’s speech have been extracted and is available in English here and in Urdu as well.

The metroblogging team in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore have been doing a great job with posting updates of happenings on the ground while a little over an hour after Musharraf began delivering his address to the nation, Umar, blogs that apart from police patrolling the streets, the situation on the ground is peace and hopes it remains that way.

During her press briefing with the media, a few minutes after she landed in Karachi, Benazir Bhutto appealed that the world community should pressurize Musharraf to lift the emergency with Canada officially stepping up the pressure on Pakistan for the removal of the state of emergency (via Edmonton Sun) Meanwhile Nawaz Sharif who spoke to Al Jazeera News via phone from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia agreed with Bhutto and stressed that this was not a state of emergency but rather marital law which has destroyed the Supreme Court with Bhutto emphasizing that the “people of Pakistan, are capable of defending the country”.

Continue reading “Update @ 0244: Geo TV’s website back online” »

Emergency declared in Pakistan

Fuck off MusharrafAt around 5:30pm Pakistan was shoved into a national crisis with the declaration of emergency throughout the country, all electronic media was taken off the air and General Pervaiz Musharraf has assumed all powers over the nation. The threat it seems to have come from the Supreme Court of Pakistan which was soon to decide on the petition for is his Presidential office. Barely a few days back The Friday Times has reported, in their Such Gup section that the Chief Justice of Pakistan had called all the judges on the bench and made them swore on the Holy Quran that they will try to decide the case under their own free ill without and pressure or mala fide intent, this I feel was the tipping force which swung the voting balance against Musharraf.

Updates and analysis soon to come. But how interestingly that for the sake of protecting one persons position of wealth and power the nations is shoved into darkness. Quite simply my heart screams out and says FUCK OFF MUSHARRAF (anyone care to join me in launching this Pakistan wide campaign)

CNN states “Faced with increasing violence and unrest, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday declared a state of emergency, government sources told CNN” – What Bull Shit

Updated 1 an image, these are my true feelings

Updated 2 Aitazaz Hussain arrested and sent to Adilia Jail!!!. 8 bench Supreme Court headed by CJ (suspended?) ordered all the justices not to take oath under PCO because PCO is against law..remeber COAS has earlier suspended CJ. CJ and 8 justices are in the supreme court right now

Updated 3 worst crisis – CJ and 8 supreme court have ordered all the army staff officers (including core commanders) and all the government officers not to bless PCO and has stopped all the judges to take fresh oath under PCO – war b/w GHQ and Judges

Updated 4 Geo.Tv website is reportedly down – confirmed

Updated 5 Reports coming in that Benazir Bhutto is at Dubai airport in an attempt to come to Pakistan. Geez what is this world coming to

Updated 6 international reporters confirming that Abdul Hammed Dogar has taken oat as the Chief Justice of Pakistan, reports coming in that Martial Law is actually being enforced and not an Emergency

Emergency, a Media Circus created by Shujaat, the Mumbling Maniac

Chaudhry ShujaatIts been over 24 hours since the buzz around the country started circulating of a potential enforcement of a state of emergency in Pakistan by Pervaiz Musharraf. One must bear in mind that such sudden changes in government which include the sudden enforcement of a State of Emergency, a Coop and similarly Martial Law are always considered top secret until the final blow is delivered.

Unlike the hustle bustle that Islamabad was a witness to over the past 24 hours it seems that this was simply a media circus created by none other then Musharraf’s partner-in-crime Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain who happened to be the originator of all this media frenzy when in is typical mumbling style hinted that an emergency was likely to be declared in Pakistan.
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Mushy: I Pledge Allegiance to …..

Musharraf Addresses the NationToday as anticipated, General Pervaiz Musharraf addressed the entire nation on national TV simply, in an attempt to talk to his people and try to convince them that his actions in the Lal Masjid issue were justified. It was probably the icing that needed to be added despite the propaganda effort played out by the entire bureaucracy for the past ten days to sanitized any and all Anti-Govt opinion. To be honest, I did not have the stomach to even stop for a moment, while channel surfing, to hear all his propagandistic Pakistan-Paindabad Bull-Shit by Musharraf.

For the fleeting moment when I did stop on PTV, I noticed the stage, which was in the typical style sitting next to the image of Quaid-e-Azam over his right shoulder. He chooses to place the image of a leader which built Pakistan brick by brick, but he on the other hand chooses to stoop, bowing down on his knees willing to sacrifice the countries respect and honor for some other persons agenda. The image of Quaid-e-Azam along with Musharraf was hypocrisy at its highest form. The stage would have looked perfectly norm had if the image would have been replaced for the image of George W. Bush. And to wrap up the encore presentation he could have also sung to the tune of ‘I Pledge Allegiance to the ……‘.
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Musharraf: I Command You to Praise Me

Mush in your face

Well my fears continue to be realized with time and yet again we were not surprised when the President of Pakistan, the so-called upholder of the free press, went ahead to ink the new PEMRA ordinance which gives President Pervez Musharraf more authority in controlling the electronic media. Quite simply Musharraf was a supporter of the open dialog so long as they don’t question his authority, since March 9th the media has repeatedly asked him tough questions and he continues to fail in terms of Public perception and hence now Musharraf feels that the media must be brought under control to the extend of forcible shutting down media outlets if they do not follow the editorial policy to positively portray the image of Musharraf

Musharraf’s dictatorship upon the people of Pakistan has now becoming more threatening to say

I Command you to Praise me or elseoff to the gallows

The free press bubble which was hailed as a breathtakingly new & bold initiative ever to have been undertaken by any previous Army General in the history of Pakistan, he proclaimed this feat as an important chain-link for his holistic concept sweetly termed as Enlightened Moderation. It was without doubt the free press / Enlightened Moderation (Anti-Taliban / Anti-Madrassah) concept fooled top leaders like George Bush into accepting his military dictatorship and continued to offer an extension to his stay in power. For the past seven years Musharraf has used the Free Media trump card against all critics who have dared question his rule on Pakistan quite simply staring down the individual with a simple response ‘has the press become freer like never before?’. I must admit the Press was free, it was allowed to blossom into a beautifully lily, the discussion and dialog was considered a democratic right of any individual, but how fickle were the foundations of this Enlightened Moderation & free press that the moment the media raised a finger to question the President of Pakistan in the same democratic manner, he rebounds with a clamp down on the media with a number of restrictions, in effect censoring the media forcing it to adopt a pro-government attitude.

The free media has without doubt glorified its creator [Musharraf] for over seven years…. When he showed them his candor during his interview, the media clapped…. When he showed them sparkling GDP and economic numbers, the media clapped…. When he showed them his finesse at handling the 9/11 crisis, the media applauded…. When showed them how to handle Jon Stewart on Comedy Channel, the media raved.

But when he showed them the assassination of Bugti, the media stood silent…. When he showed them that he was above the Law by trying to unseat the CJP, the media cried foul…. but what really pulled the string was when he deliberately left an entire city of Karachi at the hands of ruthless killers entrusted to foil the grand reception for the CJP, the media yelled ‘enough is enough’. The free media could not keep quite any more and considered it their journalistic duty to report the truth, they could not live with the guilt of having watched the assassination of more then 40 people on May 12th and smile to say ‘Shabash Mushy… Well Done’

Had if, Musharraf gotten his way on the fateful day of May 12th the massacre would never had made it onto TV and later that evening cowering behind inch thick bullet proof screens in Islamabad, he would have placed the blame of the ‘entire‘ massacre on the hands of the CJP and Judicial body rallying in his support, but that was not so, the people pf Pakistan had witnessed a shocking day and were not to be fooled any further, sadly the media spoiled his picture perfect plan.

Hence in an attempt to stop such incidents from ever happening again, the PEMRA ordinance has been strengthened to clamp down on such LIVE telecasts ever in the future the red-tape increased enough that the media outlets would unwillingly be forced to adopt the propagandistic policies enforced by the government, no more hot interviews, no more anti-government / anti-Musharraf debates, propaganda will be the easiest story to make the hourly headlines and breaking news will be limited a boring old PTV Khabarnama.

Adil Najam of Pakistaniat in his weekly column titled Respecting the military and the media in The News quite rightly says

I have never been impressed by General Musharraf’s chest-thumping assertions about how he ‘gave’ freedom to the press. Freedom is not something that anyone can ‘give’ to anyone else. It is a desire that is inherent, intrinsic and ingrained within individuals as well as institutions. The credit for the expression of freedom by the Pakistani media can, therefore, go to no one except the Pakistani media itself. Having said that, it is also true that while freedom cannot be ‘given’ it can be ‘taken away.’ While freedom cannot be bestowed by government, it can — and often is curtailed by government. For much of his tenure, General Musharraf does deserve credit for having chosen not to limit or attack the freedom of the media. He cannot be credited with ‘giving’ the media new freedoms, but he should certainly be commended for not ‘taking it away’ — that is, until now.

Unfortunately, he seems to be losing his patience; and his cool. Like many before him, he now finds it convenient to blame the media for problems — such as the judicial crisis and the increasing anger against the military– that are essentially of his own making. He seems ready to undo one more positive aspect of his political legacy. Indeed, he may already have.

While Ahmed Rashid for writing for Washington Post / Newsweek writes in his article titled Musharraf = Military Rule, Cannot Survive (credit The Glasshouse)

Musharraf cannot survive the year. His actions over the past few months have pitted the armed forces against the Pakistani public and a section of the establishment that includes the judiciary and civil society. If Musharraf continues along this present path in defiance of public and judicial demands, he may plunge the country into civil war.

Yes I feel its a defining moment for Pakistan and very soon we shall see who and what remains after the dust settles, but this is for sure Musharraf has his head on the chopping block, any takers?

Geo Tv Blackballed because of Imran Khan

Last night GEO.tv was scheduled to re-broadcast the Jawab Deh where Iktikhar (also known as ‘Fitna’) the show host was interviewing Imran Khan and his tell-all attack on MQM. Reports of the blocked channel came first from Gulshan and it was soon verified by GEO where a number of areas across the country were blocked. My own World Call connection at home had swapped the GEO News channel and had started showing TCM (Classic Movies) instead.

The show had a disclaimer in the beginning that Geo does not subscribe to Imran’s views. In the end Fitna offered Farooq Sattar a show to reply to Imran’s accusations.

Watch the interview distributed in four parts uploaded on YouTube as follows. Link share these videos so that many more can defy the censorship enforced by the government.
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Eyewitness: Karachi, May 12, 2007

A narrative of the events of “Black Saturday and the “stop-the-blame-game argument

Guest Post by Beena Sarwar
article also published in The News on 27th May

“Here in Karachi, we avoid name calling and finger pointing due to fear of having our knees drilled

ON May 12, 2007, Karachi witnessed orchestrated mayhem. Such carnage is hardly unique to Karachi or to Pakistan — law enforcement agencies have stood by and even participated in worse massacres elsewhere, like Northern Ireland and Gujarat, India. In Karachi that day, “only about 46 lives were lost, and 150 or so injured.

But this was the first time in Pakistan that live television cameras captured the situation for viewers to see: government tankers used to block off routes to the airport, police and rangers conspicuous by their absence or standing idle as armed men ran amok on the streets of Karachi, corpses and wounded bodies lying by the wayside in pools of blood.

The security plans chalked out for May 12 were abandoned overnight. The Sindh home department withdrew the weapons of most law enforcement personnel in Karachi on May 12. Armed only with batons, the 15,000 or policemen deployed in the city avoided the violent areas. Rangers who were to hold key positions on the flyovers on the main airport road were nowhere in sight. Instead, armed men in civilian clothes held those posts, and fired into the crowds trying to reach the airport to receive the Chief Justice stranded inside.

At 5:00am on Saturday morning, Shahrah-e-Faisal (Drigh Road), the main airport route normally trafficked at all hours, was deserted as a journalist friend in Karachi found who was out and about early. He emailed me: “I saw something which gave me the chills — no police or Rangers on the roads, just kids with guns guiding trucks, tankers to block the intersections, entry and exit points on the main artery of city. I saw an NLC truck also being used to block the road (picture attached). We all know NLC is Pakistans largest trucking company, owned and managed by the army. Tie-rods were being removed from front tires so the vehicles could not be moved even by a tow truck. I thought, What if ambulances are required to move on Sharah-e-Faisal?My thought was immediately answered when I saw two KKF ambulances moving freely (Khidmat-Khalq Foundation, MQM’s social service wing) and MQM activists among those supervising the blockade.

Getting to office took him two hours, a journey that even during rush hour takes only 45 minutes. “I told my colleagues about my fear and almost all of them told me to relax as MQM is not that stupid they will not repeat the 1992 & 94 stupidity. By 12 noon Karachi was bleeding.

“There were bodies lying at every street intersection, Uzi, a reporter related later on her blog. “We picked up a whole bunch of them and put them inside police mobiles parked nearby.As for the police and the Rangers: “They did NOTHING! They stood around and LOITERED while my city was tainted with blood.

The areas she covered were the second bloodiest that day. It took her nearly an hour to get to Jinnahs mausoleum (Mazar-e-Quaid), normally a 15-20 minute drive from her house. At Kashmir Road the cab driver couldn’t go any further and she walked the remaining distance. At around 01:00 p.m., she was stopped by a political worker who put a TT pistol to her forehead (“NOT the temple, the FOREHEAD). She was allowed to proceed after showing her press card.

Over at the Sindh High Court, lawyer Ayesha Tammy Haq sent this text message around 5 pm Karachi time: “In the High court. Things getting worse. Judges will not leave as there will be a rampage. I was with the CJ. City courts being attacked as re Aaj and Geo. We are going to have army rule in Karachi. It looks like that was always the plan i.e. redemption of the army. (Later in an interview, General Musharraf denied such plans and reasserted his commitment to democratic politics. But then, he has also justified what happened in Karachi as “the political activity of a political party attempting to show its strength to its constituency interview with Talat Hussain, Aaj TV, May 18, 2007)

Another lawyer emailed: “Not only was the Sindh High Court under virtual siege by armed activists, but lawyers attempting enter the Court were repeatedly beaten and roughed up. The armed activists did not even spare the Judges of the High Court. One judge was held at gun point and his car damaged. “While holding me at gun point, the youth called someone and stated Yeh bolta hai kay High Court ka judge hai…kya karun is ka?…achaa theek hai, phir janay daita houn (He says hes a judge of the High Court. What should I do with him? Ok then, will let him go). Many judges, unable to drive to the Sindh High Court, had to leave their official ‘flag’ cars and make their way through menacing crowds and climb over the court’s back wall in order to reach their chambers.

Munir A. Malik, one of the 25 lawyers accompanying Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhry from Islamabad to Karachi, narrates how they were forced to remain inside the airport. The Sindh government representatives offered to transport the Chief Justice by helicopter but this offer was for him alone. Since the lawyers with him had already foiled the attempts of “two uniformed people to “snatch the CJP and take him from the other side, he refused. (Story at the airport, The News on Sunday, Special Report, May 20, 2007)

Armed men attacked lawyers at Malir District Bar, Iftikhar Choudhry’s scheduled first stop in Karachi, killing a lawyer and injuring several others, including female lawyers. The Chief Justice and his team, of course, were externed to Islamabad after several hours. Late that night, residents in the low-income Ranchore Lines mohalla were awakened by loud banging on their doors. One resident relates that it was two young boys distributing freshly cooked biryani and suji in plastic bags: “Yeh chief justice ki wapsi ki khushi mein hai (This is to celebrate the Chief Justice’s return [to Islamabad]).

On the Karachi streets, Uzi’s press card had saved her again at around 05:00 p.m. as she and a colleague tried to reach the Rangers Headquarters in Dawood College. “A car chockfull of ammunition passed in front of us, stopped, backed up and stopped in front of us, Kalashnikovs pointing at the two of us from the windows. We showed our press cards and the car moved on. NEVER in my LIFE have I felt more grateful to my press card than I did yesterday.

At around 06:00 p.m., she and her colleague were trapped by gunshots all around. “Short of climbing the walls and entering one of the houses around, there really was no other place for us to go.They stopped a police mobile and asked which way would be safe to go. The answer, accompanied by laughter: “You can be killed wherever you go. Choose your place.

In published reports, journalists prudently avoided naming the parties involved. “Young men toting flags and banners had set up camp outside the airport departure lounge. They hid, however, when policemen came by. Reporters in the vicinity were asked whether they had seen any political activists around. Munawar Pirzada (from Daily Times) said that he had seen some nearby. After the policemen had left, the activists came up to the reporter, dragged him by the hair and took him aside. They then proceeded to threaten him with dire consequences if he said anything the next time the policemen came around (Urooj Zia, Daily Times, May 14).

But the affiliation of these gangs was visible in the live coverage provided by several private television channels, which showed plainclothes men brandishing weapons on the deserted roads, using government tankers as cover, exchanging gunfire with unseen opponents, the tri-colour MQM flag visible on their motorcycles.

After Aaj TV’s continuous live coverage of such scenes, armed men attacked the television station, firing at it for several hours. Instead of stopping the coverage, Aaj showed live footage of reporters ducking behind a desk, shots being fired at their office, as anchor Talat Hussain provided an account of the situation on the phone. Reporters in the area asked the Rangers posted nearby to help the Aaj workers trapped inside their building. The answer: “We’re helpless. We can’t do anything unless we have orders from above.

Aaj TV’s refusal to suspend its live coverage emboldened the new breed of citizen journalists. “My faith in independent media was restored and I was confident that I am not alone, wrote one blogger. He had hesitated to post out the testimony of a doctor at a Karachi hospital who witnessed armed political workers turn up to finish off an injured political worker. Encouraged by the Aaj re-broadcasting of images that clearly showed the involvement of MQM workers in the violence, he published the testimony with a disclaimer that “it was an anonymously posted comment and could be entirely false, you be a judge for yourself.

The testimony was apparently sent by a doctor who had been at work for several hours attending to multiple gunshot wound victims in his hospital lobby, where a makeshift emergency room had been set up. Nothing, he writes, “struck down my soul more than what 9 fully armed workers of MQM along with 2 sector office bearers did. They tried to drag out the wounded and dying body of a Sunni Teri worker (whose identity they later learnt) for presumably finishing him off.The protesting doctors were slapped around and dragged by their legs to the back of the gurney alley. With “shotguns, pistols and ak-47’s in hand, the men ran back to the lobby presumably to find their target again.

The doctor ran out to the rangers and police near the hospital front gate. Their answer to his appeal: “Jaante ho inn logon ko phir bhi kyon larta ho¦hamain upar se order hai ke inn ko char baje tak karne do jo karna hai. Char baje ke baad kuch dekhainge” (When you know who these people are why do you still fight them ¦ we have orders from above to let them do whatever they want until 4pm. After 4pm we will see).

As a previous MQM supporter, the doctor had recognized some of the assailants and called a friend related to MQM deputy leader Farooq Sattar. Five minutes later the men received a phone call and left, threatening the doctors (and stealing one of their cell phones, “Chikna set hai — it’s a cool set). “The guy they had come looking for had been shot one more time in the head. The o.t dress we had dressed him in 10 mins earlier was freshly bloody. Full text at: Karachi Metroblogs
There is a story behind each of those who were killed, some belonging to one or other political party, and others just because they were there. Masked men stopped ambulances and sprayed them with bullets, killing an Edhi Ambulance driver, Faizur Rahman Khan, 65, when he refused to throw out a wounded person he was transporting to hospital from near the airport; the wounded man was also shot again. Armed gangs herded passers-by into an alley and shot dead a young overlock machine operator along with another man, in front of two colleagues who were also shot but survived to tell the tale (They shot us one by one… by Munawar Pirzada, Daily Times). There have been reports about an SHO who guided a procession into an ambush and a pregnant woman who had to deliver her baby in the car when armed men refused to let her proceed to the hospital with her husband. The Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) reports that several journalists were manhandled and nine wounded. Some TV cameramen were beaten and their cameras snatched or damaged.

In all these stories of horror, there is at least one amusing aside: the stranded reporter Uzi had the thrill of getting to ride a motorbike when her editors sent a senior reporter to pick her up. “You couldn’t use a car etc, because on a bike your press card was visible, and that was a kind of immunity. In a car or a van, they’d shoot at you on sight. So yeah, I got to ride pillion on a bike, and I didn’t sit sideways either, like women usually do here. :D I sat like guys usually do handsfree mode. :D Initially I was scared shitless, but then I got used to it, and it was AWESOME — like flying! MQM-waalahs on the way kept turning and staring at the weird Chick who was riding pillion like guys do and didn’t have to hold on to anything to maintain her balance. :D AWESOME, it was! I want a bike now! :P”

All power to Uzi, I say. I hope she gets her bike and I hope she gets to ride it. Someone should do a study on why Pakistan is the only Southasian country where it’s a no-no for women to cycle or drive scooters, or sit pillion astride (rather than side-saddle as they do,
uncomfortably and dangerously, sometimes holding on to several children). It wasn’t always that way until the 1960s college girls in Lahore, Karachi, even Peshawar bicycled around pretty freely, some even in saris. A trivial matter perhaps, given what’s happening in the country but these issues are not entirely unlinked.

Karachi educationist, Anwar Abbas, later emailed: “My son-in-law and daughter who live in a building adjoining Baloch colony flyover had a good look at the thugs in action from their rooftop. Their only regret is that they did not have a camera to capture the ghastly scenes. They returned to their flat because their little daughter was alone with the maid and because the thugs had also climbed the roofs of adjoining buildings in order to obtain an aerial view of their targets and shoot at random.

He added: “It is not important which group they belonged to; it is important that they could behave the way they did in complete disregard to the rule of law; if indeed the law was awake or not in collusion with the thugs Many others, including Aaj TV’s Talat Hussain and MQM’s Dr. Farooq Sattar have also suggested that the “blame game be avoided.

But a lawyer friend, “angry and distressed in Karachi, argues that “If we avoid name callingand finger pointing, we will simply be brushing the events of last Saturday under the carpet of indifference. Here in Karachi, we avoid name calling and finger pointing due to fear of having our knees drilled. Even Urdu speaking lawyers, while talking of last Saturdays events at the Sindh High Court look over their shoulders and speak in hushed tones when mentioning the name of MQM

“As we try to understand the carnage of 12th May, we have to ask the following question: Which political group stands to lose the most in a Musharraf ouster? Not the PML (Q). The Chaudhrys and their ilk will merely disperse and filter back into the PML (N) or the PPP. The unprecedented power and privilege of the MQM however is firmly tied with Musharraf’s hold in Islamabad. It was the threat to their benefactor from the supporters of the Chief Justice, which unleashed the gunmen on 12th May. Zaffar Abbas is correct when he writes that Karachi was only at peace for the past many years because it suited its militants (‘Back to the future?’ Dawn, May 14, 2007)

“Finger pointing is necessary, because throughout our history, instead of a catharsis, we simply go through a jo ho gaya ab bhool jaao, aagay daikho (forget what has happened) attitude. Already, with the President’s pat on the back at the emergency meeting of the ruling party in Islamabad (on Monday) the MQM is back on the front foot

“Although it is unlikely that the perpetrators of Saturday’s violence will ever be brought to justice, at least they should continue to be exposed before the entire country. More importantly, they should face the consequence of such exposure. Public image is very important to the MQM and the national outrage at their conduct may be the best prospect of compelling them to change their ways.

MQM threatens 20 journalists

Reporters Without Borders has issued a press release suggesting that Muhajir Rabita Council an integral part of the MQM leadership has threatened some 20 odd journalists for their reporting activities related to the 5/12 Massacre. The list of Journalists include Zafar Abbass, Mazhar Abbas, Shaheen Sehbai, and Dr. Shahid Masood.

Ever since the fateful day of 12th May, MQM has continued to take a lashing from all quarters as it was most definitely the first time that the MQM organization was caught on live tv fully engaged in the terrorism. This was nothing new as all Karachiites have known the threat of MQM to the extent that the term ‘Supari Nikal Na’ was a keyword instilled in the Karachi vocabulary ever since this party reverted to using terrorism to stay in power. This open threat to journalist can continue to spell disaster for MQM as such threatening messages do little in terms of rebuilding the shattered image.

The Mujahir Rabita Council (MRC) issued a threatening statement on 22 May with a list of some 20 journalists it described as “chauvinist” and hostile to their movement. The MRC is affiliated to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which supports Gen. Pervez Musharraf and which was partly responsible for the 12 May riots in Karachi in which 40 civilians were killed and a TV station was attacked. “Now it has become necessary to inform the nation about these cruel elements and those who conspire against humanity,” the statement said.
Reporters Without Borders calls on the MQM to put a stop to these threats and urges the authorities to protect the journalists.

Among the prominent journalists on the list are Zaffar Abbas, editor of the daily Dawn, Mazhar Abbas, AFP bureau chief in Karachi, Shaheen Sehbai, the head of the TV station Aryone World, and Shahid Masood of Geo TV. One of the journalists named told Reporters Without Borders on condition of anonymity that he was scared because “having your name on the list means that the MCR wants to eliminate you.” – Reporters Without Borders

Update 26th May

IFEX has also issued a press release to highlight this threat to journalist which can be viewed here The list of journalists are as follows

  • Zafar Abbas
  • Azhar Abbas
  • Mazhar Abbas
  • Ayaz Amir
  • Sajjad Mir
  • Irfan Siddiqui
  • Shahid Masood
  • Aneeq Ahmed
  • Asfar Imam
  • Zahid Hussain
  • Shaheen Sehbai
  • Zarar Khan
  • Iqbal Haider

Karachi Witnesses an Organized Massacre

This article was published on Karachi Metroblogs here, I republish it on my own blog so as to preserve this article for my own blog

It is indeed sad to see the situation in Karachi get progressively worse. It can be easily said that all this was bound to happen since MQM was destined to create a stand-off for this day. Their ‘Pur Aman’ rally was probably the biggest hoax played onto the people of Karachi.

Being a staunch supporter of the CJP issue I was destined to join the hundreds to greet CJP today. From late last night I had reported on KMB the numerous blockades being created well up to three in the morning where it seemed the official machinery was being used to cater to the demands of MQM. MQM workers were freely allowed to roam the streets quite literally telling people to stay in doors or else….
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Shahrai Faisal Blocked at Karsaz Tipu Sultan

This article was published on Karachi Metroblogs here, I republish it on my own blog so as to preserve this article for my own blog

In just a recent development I am told that Shahrai Faisal has been completely blocked going towards airport at the Karsaz Junction.

This can be a great ploy to defeat the thunderous reception planned for Chief Justice Iftikhar who was due to arrive in Karachi tomorrow afternoon. I can only say it may either diffuse the situation entirely or could aggravate the supporters resulting in heated exchanges throughout the city.

Karachi holds its breath while hundreds of MQM supporters prowl the streets (though in small groups) of Karachi reminding us yet again of the threat they pose to the people of Karachi.

I have no idea what will happen to any potential travelers who might be scheduled to take a flight tonight out of the city but can suggest them to try a few alternate points the most probable access to the airport would be the one passing through a heavily populated MQM area of Gulistan-e-Jauhar for those unaware there is one small road which passes behind Jauhar and exist onto Shahrai Faisal right next to the airport runway. Approach all areas with confirmed travel documents to pacify the activists and authorities that man these posts.

Credit – Mahrukh & Rakay who were kind enough to message me the current situation on Shahrai Faisal

Update: The road behind Jauhar is also blocked (credit Jamash)
Update 2: Reports coming in that the Shahrai Faisal has been blocked all the way to Tipu Sultan, seems like the curfew is increasing by the hour (credit K I)
Update 3: Govt Ishrat Ul Ibad declares a public holiday : Geo (Credit Kasif)
Update 4: Geo reports that PIA crew could not reach the airport for the NY flight so the flight is canceled

MQM the Big Bad Wolf

Enough of our speculations on who could be at fault, for the sudden loss of transmission to over six channels in Karachi. ARY Digital, ARY One World, Geo TV, Geo News, Geo Super & AAJ YV. The mess started at around 5 pm and a few hours later Mustafa Azizabadi, MQM Information Secretary has been trying so hard to reinstate that MQM had no hand in this mess.

I have tried to reason all sides of the argument even going to the extent of trying to understand the motive behind the blanket block limited to Karachi only. I am on record to have even speculated that Geo was a ‘Drama Queen’ but it seems I might have to stand corrected on that statement and leave the Drama Queen title to be crowned some other day.

It seems MQM is pissed at the media outlets to have not given its press conference its due coverage and accuses the media to have ignored this historical event in Karachi. A number of statements have come from the London MQM headquarters and all have been denying any involvement in the censorship but surprisingly they go onto say

In a press release issued by MQM here Saturday, it is said that MQM’s Legal Aid rally is not covered properly while CJ Iftikhar’s rally, from Islamabad to Lahore, is being transmitted step-to-step, which it says is ‘journalistic dishonesty’. However, MQM believes in promoting the freedom of press. It also claimed that MQM’s rally was ten times larger than CJ Iftikhar’s rally on GT Road.

It also claimed that people themselves took the step to blackout the channels, as it was their reaction towards ‘such channels’ journalistic dishonesty’. Geo.tv

Please note the incriminating evidence which quite simply sums up the entire seven hour Karachi media black-out they use the term so casually, the enraged public seeing this ‘journalistic dishonesty’ closed down those channels.

Quite stunning at how simply they can deny any involvement in the confusion yet in the same statement drive home their grievance against the six media outlets to have ignored their ‘mammoth’ press conference and they in turn tried to teach these outlets a lesson for their bad behavior conspiring with the cable operators to shut down the offending channels. More so to bring them to their knees and beg for forgiveness. Honestly, Is this the Press Freedom they stand for? But wait, it has always been a strong Danda / Terror mentality with which they have maintained their full authoritarian control over their own voters

Geo the Drama Queen

Barely an hour ago I was up in arms trying to break the new about the nonavailability of Geo.Tv and Aaj.tv in a number of localities of Karachi. A number of reports have come through some claiming it to be blocked while others saying Aaj is on the air but Geo is blocked. Puzzling reports go onwards to state that the rest of the country the channels are fine without even so much as a hiccup.

This is indeed a puzzling incident and after some serious discussions with a number of friends (story credit Inspirex) I feel we have ourselves a drama queen trying to create some sort of chaos and put pressure on the Government of Pakistan. President Pervaiz Musharraf already has a plate full of problems in terms of the CJP fiasco, Justice Iftikhar and the lawyers supporting him have been rallying around the country to create additional pressure on the government to reinstate the Chief Justice of Pakistan, I fully support the cause, as I feel Musharraf has simply lost his sanity and is slowly going berserk like a crazed captain on a pirate ship. Its now been said, that if you are with him good otherwise Walk the Plank, Har Har.

The CJP issue seems to have Lahore and Islamabad up in a fix while Karachi seems to be simply asleep on this issue, we only read it on the front pages of news headlines and after that it appears to be a normal day at work. Karachi was never up in arms about the issue, more importantly because MQM had been carefully taken care off…. Altaf Hussain issued statements well after a week as if to wake up from a slumber party and say ‘whats this going on’ without the rallying power of MQM Karachi had a blissful sleep while the northern areas of Pakistan burned in the name of Justice.

Heading back to the topic at hand, GEO did have a tussle with the Government since the get-go which ultimately landed with a handful of warnings and even the suspension of a host during the CJP crisis. Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehamn is in no small terms a cunning fellow, he knows that he wields power of the media in his grasp and plays his own tune when he wants too. Since a few days the Jang Group it seems has not been in talking terms with the bureaucracy and I can assume that he must be itching to resume the fight.

What will Govt of Pakistan achieve to block Geo in Karachi ?

This is a good question that was also posed to me when I made the post on my blog about the blocking of Geo and Aaj in Karachi. Why would this censorship be limited to Karachi only and that too being limited to a number of select cable operators in the area (World Call Karachi). The first thing that people start to suspect is that it is a move by the Government of Pakistan to censor Geo in light of the Chief Justice of Pakistan crisis, I too reasoned likewise. This assumption will create a revolt in Karachi and people will start to rally against President Musharraf and give him additional pressure on the CJP fiasco, something which the government definitely does not want. Punjab is enough to worry about they don’t have to mess with the emotions of Sindh and stir a sleeping giant.

What will GEO achieve to have it blocked in Karachi ?

Well thats an interesting question, they simply achieve the attention of having been at the receiving end of a gag-order issued by the President of Pakistan, they achieve front page headline in tomorrows newspapers, the could also potentially wake Karachi from its slumber and be at the forefront of the assault on President Musharraf creating more pressure for him to succumb to any new demands Shakeel-ur-Rehamn might have up his sleeve, better yet they have a story which can go down in the history books as their struggle for free speech. Mind you people of Pakistan all know the cunning nature of Jang Group to be a force to reckon with.

An important point should also be noted is the fact that Geo.tv website has nothing about the incident, how strange, for a news organization to be taken off-air against its wishes will definitely start issuing strong statements in whatever way possible.

UPDATE: GEO.Tv website has just issued a statement “In some parts of country including Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkar, Mirpur Khas and Nawabshah, Geo News telecast has been blocked. Some circles claimed that MQM bade the cable operators to shut down the telecast. The cable operators were allegedly asked to keep the telecast closed down until the chief justice rally came to an end.” – seems like a lame excuse,

MQM Angle?

Could it be an MQM ploy to teach GEO a lesson as there is little doubt that MQM have a full authoritarian control over the cable network operators in Karachi and Hyderabad, it has previously threatened ARY with dire consequences when they refused to cover press statements of Altaf Hussain and it did not take long for ARY to do a 180 and succumb to their requests and start covering news items concerning Bhai, we are most definitely shown his statements on a regualr basis for the past few years. Seriously this can only be the logical explanation to have Geo go down in MQM controlled localities of Karachi and Hyderabad.

I suspect there is some thing more then the eye can see, naturally this is all speculation and can be turned around to be nothing at all, but if we find that rat scurrying around somewhere then Geo should most definitely be renamed as the Drama Queen of 2007

GEO and AAJ Pulled off Air

Breaking News: it has come to my attention through reliable sources that the GEO.TV & AAJ.TV have both been pulled off the air in a bid to issue them a stern warning and also curtail their press freedom. I suspect this has all to do with the CJP crisis and the tussle the Govt had just following the CJP crisis and GEO.TVÅ› show host Kamran Khan amongst a number of other channels that dared to stick their neck out

So long for any hint of press freedom.

Updates to follow as soon as I hear of more news in this regards. KMB

Update: Geo has resumed its normal coverage and it looks like all channels are back on the air. It seems something was afoot in regards to the off-air status of a number of news channels, MQM has denied having an hand in this fiasco [but I tend to disagree] they may deny all they want but one must critically observe that the cable distributors here in Karachi were blocking the channels while the rest of the country had unhindered access. I suspect MQM was attempting to prove its loyalty to Musharraf by threatening GEO to stop the coverage or else they threatened with censorship, it seems the media played a tough hand and called the bluff to which MQM ended up blocking the channels, little did they know it would blow up in their face. Chalk one up for the strong media lobby in Pakistan