Lahore: A Pakistani court has ordered the federal and provincial governments to restore the transmission of Geo News and three other channels which have claimed that their programmes have been blocked after they aired reports about a man hurling shoes at President Asif Ali Zardari.
The ruling Pakistan People`s Party has maintained that it had not ordered cable operators to block these channels and described reports about their programmes being blocked as "fabricated".
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif yesterday directed authorities to restore the transmissions of Geo News, ARY News, Royal TV and Aaj News and sought replies from the federal Information Minister and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority chairman by August 19.
He gave the ruling in response to a petition filed by advocate Ashraf Gondal, who contended that the government blocked the transmissions of the leading channels to divert the country`s attention from its failure to protect the life and property of people affected by the devastating floods in
Geo news and the other channels had reported that a 60-year-old man had flung two shoes at Zardari while he was addressing a PPP convention in Birmingham though they fell far from him.
Angry PPP workers protested outside the office of Geo News in Karachi and the channel was removed from cable networks in some areas of Sindh province.
"The blockage of news channels badly hampered relief operations in flood-hit areas as they are not being identified," Gonal claimed.
He asked the court to summon PPP co-chairman Zardari to explain why his party leaders were committing illegal acts and putting curbs on the media.
Chief Justice Sharif observed that no reply could be sought from Zardari.
Deputy Attorney General Naveed Inayat Malik opposed the petition, saying it was not maintainable as Gondal had not provided any order regarding the closure of transmission of news channels.
"As far as a written order about blockage is concerned, I think there will be no written order in this regard. So it is not necessary for the petitioner to place the same on record.”
"The respondents are directed to immediately lift blockage on broadcasting of Geo, ARY, Royal and Aaj whether it was done orally or in writing under the order of any state functionaries," the Chief Justice said.