Massive Crackdown of Electronic Media in Pakistan

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It seems like General Musharraf is getting more and more nervous as Pakistani citizens continue to protest his assault on the judicial system. Now Musharraf’s taking aim at the ever-critical Pakistani media.

On Monday, General Musharraf issued the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Ordinance, “sweeping curbs on media” that bestow PEMRA with the authority to “seal channels, suspend licenses, make new rules without informing parliament,” and increases the fines tenfold.

This follows the ban issued on Saturday which prohibits live TV coverage of the opposition rallies that denounced Musharraf’s decision to sack the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The popular Geo TV channel, whose journalists have asked General Musharraf some uncomfortable questions, is one of the victims of this ban.
The subsequent protests in front of the PEMRA office in Islamabad resulted in the police filing “preliminary complaints against about 200 journalists for defying a ban on rallies in the capital by protesting curbs on the media.”

This incident is hitting major American media now, but the stifling of press freedom by the Musharraf government is nothing new. In April, Human Rights Watch issued an open letter to Musharraf about his attempt to “muzzle the media.” The English language Pakistani paper Dawn has kept tabs on the “conflict between the Government and Dawn” from 2004-2007. Reporters Without Borders’ 2007 annual report on Pakistan details the fight for press freedom, and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) calls the current state of the Pakistani media a “sickening crisis.”

— Neha Inamdar

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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