Pakistan president withdraws controversial new media controls

[JURIST] Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [official website] on Saturday withdrew restrictions on media covering the political crisis that has followed the president's March 9 decision to suspend [JURIST report] Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive]. Earlier this month, Musharraf issued an emergency ordinance to punish broadcasters allegedly undermining national unity through criticism and extensive coverage of rallies in support of Chaudhry [JURIST report]. The ordinance gave the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) [official website] authority to suspend broadcasting licenses of radio and television stations found to violate the law and allowed authorities to physically seal the stations' facilities and increases the fines for violations from $16,665 to $166,650.

Musharaff met with representatives of Pakistani news channels on Saturday to discuss the restrictions. He agreed to withdraw them after broadcasters promised to implement a code of conduct. Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz [official profile] dismissed charges [JURIST report] against 200 journalists, opposition party members and pro-democracy activists who protested [JURIST report] against the emergency media ordinance contrary to a ban on large-scale rallies in Islamabad. AP has more.

 

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