The transmissions of Waqt TV were blacked out across Sindh, for airing an interview of Chairman Mohajir Qaumi Movement Afaq Ahmed, on Sunday. Cable operators were called and warned not to broadcast the transmission which gives an idea of how things, particularly related to media and politics, can sometimes be manipulated in the country.

This is no doubt an onslaught on the freedom of expression that must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. It is all the more shocking that a ban has been placed, even though a democratic government is in power. The present political set-up has most probably forgotten that it is because of a free media that subversive and off-stage players have so far failed to succeed. Waqt TV ever since its inception has maintained the highest standards of media ethics, impartiality and non-partisan journalism. It has always avoided taking sides during many a tussle of political parties and rivals across Sindh and, of course, the country. Yet, it is a shame that the transmission carrying the interview of Mr Ahmed was blacked out in Sindh. Since he was recently released from jail by courts which declared his detention illegal, Waqt TV was well within its rights to conduct his interview. The blackout also brings home the urgency amidst our political opponents to tolerate difference of opinion and even criticism if it is positive. With the passage of time, they should have acquired the political wisdom and maturity to respond in a proper way to any such criticism. The days of state-controlled broadcasts are over and not only do the people of the country want better coverage and freedom of press, but they also trust the media to voice their concerns about their fundamental rights.

Those who have done this reprehensible act have only exposed their weakness to dissent. Waqt TV which belongs to Nawa-i-Waqt group of publications has in the past faced such cowardly attempts with steadfastness and courage and will stand its ground, come what may. To expect that the channel can be cowed into submission is nonsensical. The media in Pakistan has earned its present status through a long and arduous struggle that involved confrontation with General Musharraf who tried to muzzle the voice of truth, yet failed in the end. Placing a ban is in no one’s interest and only exposes those employing such a tactic to ridicule.