Pakistan must allow live foreign broadcasts

Karachi, May 8, 2011Pakistan’s decision tonight to not allow foreign broadcasters to continue to do live transmissions from Abbottabad must be rescinded immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today from Karachi.

“It is reckless for Pakistan to interfere with the flow of information from the site of what is one of the world’s most important news stories. Falling back on regulatory controls to stifle the flow of news is short sighted and does a disservice to the entire world. The government must back away from this decision immediately,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. Dietz had been part of a CPJ team in Pakistan for meetings earlier this week with President Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Among the news channels that have been issued notices are CNN, BBC, FOX, NBC, CNS, IBN, Al Jazeera, Voice of America and Sky News, according to the website of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Agency (PEMRA), which regulates the country’s broadcast media. PEMRA says the foreign broadcasters have been transmitting from Abbottabad without the agency’s permission. 

Abbottabbad, about 60 miles north of Islamabad, has been a focal point for global and local broadcasters since the United States operation earlier this week which killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a raid on the compound in which he had been living.