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UAE closes two Pakistan news channels

world Updated: Nov 17, 2007 16:40 IST
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Two major private Pakistani news channels said on Saturday the authorities in Dubai had closed down their operations, apparently following pressure from Islamabad.

The Geo and ARY television networks, which beam their programmes from ground stations based in Dubai (part of the United Arab Emirates), were asked by local officials to suspend their transmissions by midnight on Friday.

The UAE government did not give any reason for the closure but the administrations of both channels were sure the measure was taken after pressure from the government of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf has imposed severe curbs on the media since he proclaimed the state of Emergency this month.

"We know that the UAE is a kingdom and it was not very difficult for the Pakistani government to convince them of the action," said a senior journalist from Geo news channel, Kamran Khan.

He said the UAE has a great financial interest in Pakistan since it has made heavy investments in the country and said this may be one of the reasons the UAE would succumb to pressure.

Almost all private news channels in Pakistan were taken off air few hours before Musharraf imposed Emergency rule on November 3, prompting the biggest news blackout in the country.

The news-hungry public turned to satellite dish for the alternative source but the government banned their sale and import.

Journalists have held countrywide protest rallies against media restrictions for the last two weeks, forcing the government to restore the transmissions of at least some of the foreign and local news channels.

But Geo and ARY remained banned as their administration refused to close down some of the debate shows and sack the news anchors Musharraf regime believed were levelling heavy criticism on the government.

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