In another glaring example of rights violations of the minority community in Pakistan, the country’s media regulatory body has banned all Christian TV channels.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) stopped the airing of the 11 channels that had Christian religious content.
In a follow up action, six cable television broadcasters were arrested for defying the order.
Some of the channels had been airing Christian messages and lessons from the Bible for the last two decades. Though there are numerous Islamic channels in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, PEMRA did not actually allow the airing of content of other religions.
But it was only in September PEMRA outlawed the airing of Christian channels. The regulator issued a notice to all cable operators. Six of them defied it and, following a crackdown on October 15, arrested the owners of the channels.
What is worth noting is that while most of the Christian channels blocked this way were broadcast from abroad, two of the most prominent ones –Isaac TV, the oldest, and Catholic TV, run by Lahore Archdiocese – were silenced too.
At the same time PEMRA allows for the airing of every single Islamic channel, whether licensed or not.
Among them is Peace TV, the channel which has as its star Zakir Naik – the same man accused of influencing jihadists who attacked the Gulshan restaurant in Dhaka.
What PEMRA did is a clear case of minority rights violations highlighting the tenuous condition of the minority communities. That PEMRA is a government body makes the future look even bleaker for the minorities. And let us not even get started about blasphemy.