Foreign Policy Blogs

Pakistan's Bizarre Media Blackout

In a strange twist on the tense situation in Pakistan following flooding that caused 1,600 deaths, the media is being silenced.

Pakistan’s two major media outlets–ARY TV and Geo TV–have been silenced for the past 3 days in Karachi and Sindh province. The row started after the stations reported on a story about President Asif Ali Zardari having a shoe thrown at him while he was in a meeting in Britain.

After the reports of the incident ran on the stations, supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are being accused of severing cable connections of the distributors that carry them.

The networks have been able to broadcast for a few hours here and there, and are on air in other parts of the country. But the ridiculous forced silence still continued as of Wednesday in Karachi and Sindh province.

Another major media outlet, Dawn, noted the hypocrisy of the situation in an editorial that said it all in just a few sentences:

…the unannounced Geo and ARY blackout constituted an attack on press freedom and a slur on a party that is in power because the people voted for it. Its commitment to press freedom in the party’s foundation documents and its various election manifestoes is categorical. During the 2007 lawyers’ movement, especially after the Nov 3 emergency, when the Musharraf government ordered the banning of many channels and policemen ransacked TV offices, the PPP leaders were among those who criticised the military government’s war on the media and the harsh Pemra guidelines that followed. That the PPP should itself now persecute sections of the media is astonishing.



Genevieve Belmaker

Genevieve Belmaker is a freelance journalist and contributing editor with The Epoch Times ( She also contributes to Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists and Her blog on journalism is

Genevieve has traveled throughout the U.S., Asia, Central America, Israel and the West Bank for reporting assignments, including major investigative reports on the recovery of New Orleans, the encroaching presence of China in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the dangerous import of melamine-contaminated milk into the U.S. and settlement outposts in the West Bank. She regularly reports on issues related to journalism, and the work of journalists.

She holds a BA from the University of Southern California in International Relations, and has been a member of several prominent national and international professional media organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the New York Press Club, and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel with her husband and son.

Areas of Focus:
New Media; Journalism; Culture and Society