The New Gag Order.

The television channels have been directed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority that there will be no live coverage of the chief justice’s trial-related activities, including coverage of rallies, holding talk shows and commentaries, said reliable sources here on Thursday. [The News]

An immediate consequence is that moment-to-moment coverage of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s scheduled travel in a cavalcade from Islamabad to Abbottabad on Saturday (June 2) to address the bar is going to be unlikely. More is apparently in store especially for private channels, and the government, in the words of an official, will not hesitate to decisively move against any one of them if it finds that remarks made in any of its talk shows are violative of the Supreme Court orders or deride the armed forces.
[Tariq Butt in The News]

Of all the blunders that the government has committed in the handling of the CJ reference case, this makes it to the list of the top 5. The other top 4 being [in no specific order]:

1. The government’s handling of the May 12 violence.
2. Wasi Zafar and his ‘long arm of law’ comment.
3. The manhandling of the Chief Justice.
4. The attack on Geo TV’s offices.

Welcome to Pakistan – where the expression ‘media freedom’ remains just an expression.

And the latest news is probably not surprising for Pakistanis:

Pakistani officials have banned rallies of more than five people in the capital, an official said Friday, a day ahead of a planned procession from the city by supporters of the suspended chief justice.

“We have imposed a ban on rallies in Islamabad. A notification about it has been issued, and this step has been taken to ensure peace and avoid any inconvenience to the general public,” said Mohammed Ali, Islamabad’s deputy chief of administration. [CNN]

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