Pakistani court orders case against top TV channel

By Aamir Latif, Monday, May 19, 2014

Thousands protest “blasphemous” morning show aired by Geo channel

Thousands protest “blasphemous” morning show aired by Geo channel

ISLAMABAD - A Pakistani court ordered a case against country’s top TV channel Geo on Monday for airing a “blasphemous” morning show that has sparked countrywide protest demonstrations, mainly from right-wing parties.

The judge ordered police officials to lodge a case against the owner of the channel, and media tycoon, Mir Shakeel-ul-Rehman, famous host, Shaista Lodhi, renowned actress Veena Malik and her husband Asafd Khattak for airing and participating in the controversial show last week.

The morning show "Utho Jaago Pakistan (Rise and Shine Pakistan)" aired a video of well-known actress Veena Malik, performing in rituals and celebrations with a traditional song celebrating the marriage of Prophet Mohammad's daughter playing in the background. The use of the particular song is considered blasphemous by many.

The channel faces the threat of a shutdown if the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) admits a petition filed by the Defense Ministry. 

Meanwhile, even though the channel offered an apology, thousands protested against the controversial show. In various parts of the country on Monday, angry mobs blocked roads and burned tires. 

The ongoing waves of protests against Geo have forced its employees to keep their identity secret in order to avoid attacks when covering public meetings and demonstrations. 

Geo management says the provocative programs aired by rival TV channels condemning the controversial show has put the lives of its employees in danger. 

Geo had already angered the country’s powerful army for a report blaming the spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for an attempt on famous journalist and anchor Hamid Mir's life. He had been shot and injured in the southern port city of Karachi on April 19. 

Various international media watch groups, including Reporters Without Borders, have called Pakistan one of the three most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Some 91 journalists have been killed across Pakistan in the last decade.

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