PEMRA has immediately suspended Geo News, Geo Taiz and Geo Entertainment, and has ordered the sealing off of their offices. The final decision will come on the 28th of May.
Although the whole episode against Geo TV had started from 19th April, when its anchor Hamid Mir was shot and the TV channel had criminalized the Chief of ISI, Lt. Gen. Zaheer ul Islam, as to having plans to assassinate him, for several hours at a stretch, and that also without any evidence and only upon the suspicion of Mir’s brother – the decision against Geo TV has eventually come after delay.
The decision, however, has come after a countrywide campaign against the Geo/Jang group – which includes several days of anti-Geo trending on Twitter, court petitions against Geo TV in several cities of the country and a wave of street protests in many cities of Pakistan. Geo TV had further infuriated the people of Pakistan by airing programs that have been alleged as insulting the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Thus, by degrading the prestigious institution of Pak Army and committing blasphemy against the revered figures of Islam – Geo TV has created a consent against itself of being both anti-state and anti-religion.
Still, the decision is yet to come, and there is an element of doubt, as in the current decision of PEMRA only 5 out of the 12 members of the appointed panel were present – 7 members, who were government officials, were absent. Their absence was due to the fact that the government has been constantly on the side of the Geo TV in this whole episode, and has constantly tried to build positive consent for Geo and that its mistakes should be forgiven.
If the Nawaz Sharif government attempts to influence the decision granted by PEMRA, the Nawaz authority will risk severe backlash from the general public, who have shown their extreme resentment against the behavior of this channel on all civil platforms.
As for the fate of the Geo/Jang group, it would not be feasible to dismantle the whole media house altogether as it is an asset belonging to the people of Pakistan and thousands of people are employed under it; therefore, its infrastructure and knowhow should be merged with that of the Pakistan Broadcasting Authority – and high ethical standards be ensured for their further use.
The ban of Geo TV should be taken as a monitorial by the various other channels that have been crossing the lines of religion bashing, obscenity, political maneuvering and, most of all, in trying to demoralize the common people of Pakistan by distorting history. Moreover, it should be ensured that Indian content should also be banned from being aired on TV channels in Pakistan and even content from other countries that fall below the general ethical standards of the people of Pakistan. Here it must be reminded that some Pakistani TV channels have, for the past few years, increased the airing of catwalks and fashion shows that break the norms of decency of the Pakistani people, in the name of having to compete in the global market.
In this hue, the civil society of Pakistan should not forget to seek to identify the sources behind the Geo/Jang group anti-state behavior. Geo TV’s special friendship with Indian sources and some previously identified contracts with western media houses like the VoA makes its case more suspicious in the eyes of the people, and matters should be clarified.
But those who have concluded that life is in the material, that happiness is in the obscene and the vulgar, and that progress is in blindly imitating the ways of the West – have wronged. By accepting this imitation, they have nullified the age-long belief system of their own people, which teaches them other-worldliness and a larger-than-life approach that is simple, environment friendly and embedded with altruism.
Therefore, time has come that the policies of PEMRA and those of the government of Pakistan should be revised on the lines of the will of the majority; the will that is clearly established in the national consensus, when its 99% register Islam as their religion and Pakistan as their homeland. The Media in Pakistan has gone too far; it has created an ethos in the minds of the people that is filled with glamour, imitation, vile projection, apathy and demoralization, and which does not match at all with the real-life situation of the people. This strong and useful estate belongs to the people of Pakistan and, therefore, should be put to the service of the people. At any cost – it cannot be allowed to spread confusion and unrest in the people.
Meanwhile, in a press release issued within hours of the first decision, another sector of PEMRA has announced that today’s meeting (of the committee) was called without following the laid down procedures, and thus, had no legal standing. The pressure being built against the decision is already coming to limelight – it is to be seen if the Nawaz authority is going to save democracy from derailing this time or save the Geo/Jang group from annihilation?