Pak media decry bids to restrict CJ coverage

Islamabad, June 3:

Pakistani media warned the government today that efforts to rein in coverage of a 3-month-old crisis over the president’s suspension of the chief justice could backfire.

An independent media has been one of the accomplishments President Gen Pervez Musharraf has touted during his nearly eight years in power.

But the public outcry over his March 9 suspension of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry for alleged abuse of power has strained the limits of what the government is willing to tolerate as Musharraf prepares to seek another five-year term this year.

Faced with ongoing live coverage of the rallies, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, which supervises radio and TV stations, issued letters to TV channels yesterday, urging them not to air programmes that “encourage” violence, or promote an “anti-state attitude.” The Pakistan Broadcasters Association, a grouping of private TV operators, condemned the restrictions as an “attack on the fundamental, constitutional right of expression.”