US expresses concern over suspension of license of Pakistan's ARY News

Ned price

The United States has expressed concern about Pakistan’s restriction on the suspension of the license of ARY News, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said on March 7 (local time). He stated that Washington has routinely raised concerns about press freedom to stakeholders around the world, including Pakistan.

Ned Price said that a free press and informed citizenry is key to any nation and its democratic future. He stressed that the US is concerned by media and content restrictions that undermine the exercise of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

“This is an issue that we routinely raise. We routinely raise our concerns about press freedom to stakeholders around the world, including to counterparts and partners in Pakistan,” Ned Price said.

He added, “On the broader question, we know the United States knows that by strengthening gender equity and equality, countries around the world strengthen their stability, prosperity, their security, and their democracy.”

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had suspended the license of ARY News for airing clips of the speech of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and former prime minister Imran Khan, which was earlier banned by the regulatory body, Dawn reported.

Interestingly, this is the third time that a ban on broadcasting and re-broadcasting of Khan’s speeches and press talks has been imposed after he lashed out at former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

According to PEMRA, airing of “baseless allegations, the hateful, slanderous and unwarranted statement” against state institutions and officers was in sheer violation of Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan and a judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan passed in a Suo Moto case.

In response to a question regarding Pakistan not allowing women to express themselves to mark International Women’s Day, Ned Price said, “The narrow question you raise is not a question for the United States. The narrow question you raise, as I understand it, pertains to a decision that was put down by municipal authorities in Lahore, and ultimately we would defer to municipal authorities for the narrow question.”

Earlier, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has denounced the Lahore district administration’s decision to refuse the Aurat March organisers permission to host a public rally commemoration of International Women’s Day on March 8, The News International reported.

The HCRP expressed sadness that the district administration routinely challenges the right of peaceful assembly because controversial placards and strong reservations from the general public and religious organisations apparently threaten law and order.

To observe International Women’s Day, the women in Pakistan hold an ‘Aurat March’, which is an annual political demonstration in Pakistani cities such as Lahore, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Faisalabad, Multan, Quetta, Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar.

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