07 Apr 2018
Pakistan's largest TV network taken off-air, military's role suspected
The incessant struggle between Pakistan's civilian and military institutions has now culminated in Geo TV, Pakistan's largest television network, being taken off air in most parts of the country.
While the person/institution behind this black out isn't known yet, Geo TV was taken off the air reportedly for airing programmes which were critical towards Pakistan's military establishment.
Here's what we know so far.
How the blackout slowly engulfed Geo network
The blackout began in the first week of March and slowly grew in scale.
At the start of March, Geo News went off the air in cantonment areas and adjacent residential areas.
By the start of April, all Geo channels - including news, entertainment, and sports - were being blocked by cable operators.
Currently, Geo network isn't available in 80% of Pakistan.
Who is behind the blackout?
Without revealing who was behind the blackout, Pakistan Home Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that neither the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), nor the Ministry of Information were behind it.
According to PEMRA, it had also issued notices to cable operators asking them not to disrupt transmissions by Geo TV.
Mir Ibrahim Rahman, the CEO of Geo TV, also refused to point fingers.
Why the army's intervention in the blackout is suspected
It's understood that Geo networks' recent actions have upset Pakistan's powerful military establishment.
Geo network had critically covered Pakistan's placement on a terror financing watch-list earlier this year.
More recently, Geo network's criticism of Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and his domestic and foreign policy preferences is also believed to have sparked outrage among powerful generals.
Committee to Protect Journalists harshly criticizes the blackout
"The arbitrary suspension of Geo TV on cable TV is a direct assault on Pakistan's constitutionally guaranteed right to access information," said Steven Butler, the Asia programme coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists.