New Delhi, April 8: Geo TV, Pakistan’s largest television network has said that it has been forced to go off air in most parts of the country, apparently on the orders of the military, “as it flexes its authority over civilian institutions”. Speaking to The New York Times over the issue, Chief executive of the Geo network, Mir Ibrahim Rahman said, “We are off the air in 80 percent of the country. Geo News was shut down in cantonment areas pan-Pakistan and military-administered residential neighborhoods in the first week of March.”

“If viewers/readers cannot watch Geo News on their TV screens or if our channels have somehow been shifted from their original numbers, or if they are deprived of receiving their copies of Daily Jang or/and The News, they can lodge complaints at telephone number: 021-32271133,” Geo TV has tweeted.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal clarified that the incumbent government did not order the suspension of the channel. Also, he did not explain why the channel faces a blackout across the country.

Reports claim that all Geo channels – including news, entertainment and sports channels – started being blocked across the country by cable operators this month. However, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said that it has not asked cable operators to stop broadcasting the channels.

Expressing concern over the censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalist issued a statement which reads,”The arbitrary suspension of Geo TV on cable TV is a direct assault on Pakistan’s constitutionally guaranteed right to access information. It’s outrageous that the authorities are either unable to find or too frightened to name those powerful enough to orchestrate the blocking of the news distribution.”

The parent group of Geo News, Jang Group also issued a statement which said,”The network has always embarked upon the journalistic mission to not only furnish facts to the public in line with the principles encompassing the freedom of expression, but also to abide by what is enshrined in the Constitution of the country. Pakistan’s Constitution and law guarantees the fundametal right of access to information to the citizens of Pakistan”.

“The Jang Group requests its viewers/readers that if they cannot watch Geo News on their TV screens or if our channels have somehow been shifted from their original numbers, or if they are deprived of receiving their copies of Daily Jang or/and The News, they can lodge complaints at telephone number: 021-32271133 (daily between 9:00 am and 10:00 pm),” the statement further added.

The Geo network has reportedly faced the wrath of the Pakistan military over its critical news coverage on Islamabad being added to the terror financing list.