Boasting free speech in Pakistan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the TV channels in Pakistan were free to such an extent that they could take off-air a recorded interview within minutes if they deemed it was not worth airing.
Commenting on the recent interview of former president Asif Ali with journalist Hamid Mir taken off-air minutes after it was aired on Geo News, the special assistant to the prime minister said the incident showed that the channel was free to broadcast or take off air the interview.
“Geo News announced that interview of Asif Zardari will not be aired which started at 8:03 and stopped within a few minutes because the channel exercised its freedom of speech, granted by this government,” she told her friends at a private meeting.
“I am getting calls from all over Pakistan people asking what happened to Zardari sahib’s interview? I have told personally 1,001 people that it was the right of the channel to do the right thing at the right time. I am happy that Hum TV also followed in the footstep of Geo News and took off air the interview within minutes it went on air. They did so that the whole world could see the level of free media in Pakistan.”
She criticised Geo anchor Hamid Mir for spreading baseless news regarding the interview. Hamid Mir tweeted:
“Interview of Asif Zardari stopped on Geo News within few minutes those who stopped it have no courage to accept publicly that they stopped it. The anchor shared some snippets of the interview too. In one video, Zardari responded to PTI-government’s claims that it didn’t launch any corruption investigation against anyone. “The investigation was started but someone else hastened the process,” he said.
But the special assistant to the prime minister said Hamid Mir must have a misunderstanding of the issue.
Similarly, she talked about the interview ban on Maryam Nawaz, whose interview went off air within minutes it was started.
She said the interview had a bad set design.
“Both Maryam and anchor Nadeem Malik sat side by side with a bookshelf in the background. What messages do they want to give us? Instead of talking about books, they were talking nonsense. Thank God, soon the channel realised the fact and cut out the programme. I will give a treat to journalists when they interview Maryam on books.”
Meanwhile, in a special London ceremony celebrating the ‘Freedom of Media in Pakistan’, journalists from all over the world honoured Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for making the media free and liberal.