BBC welcomes Pakistan PM pledge to look into ban

The BBC said it welcomed a promise by Pak`s PM to probe the blocking of the BBC World News channel.

Last Updated: Dec 12, 2011, 00:34 AM IST

London: The BBC said on Sunday it 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.

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.

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

"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."

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.

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.

PTI