Pak government arrests cable operators in crackdown against Christian TV stations

November 22, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pakistan, November 21, 2016: Six people who worked at cable television stations were arrested for broadcasting Indian Christian channels in Pakistan as part of the crackdown against unlicensed stations.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued an order to 11 Christian stations to stop their broadcasts on Sept. 22 but it had been largely ignored. The crackdown against the offending stations began on Oct. 15, according to UCA News.

The right to broadcast foreign television content in Pakistan are usually granted to programs on various subjects except for religion.

While the Christian stations have been shut down, some Islamic stations continue to operate despite the lack of license.

Father Morris Jalal, founder and executive director of Catholic TV, believes that the ban on Christian stations is an act of persecution.

“What is the future of church media in Pakistan? It is a very difficult time for us. We were just trying to reach our own community who are generally ignored by other TV channels,” he said.

Some Christians have complained that the ban has “distorted the social harmony” in the country.

Alessandro Monteduro, president of the Italian branch of Aid to the Church in Need, acknowledged last month that Catholic TV does not have the appropriate permit to broadcast but he said that the station had adhered to other proper legal procedures.

He believes that the government is only using the requirement for a permit to prevent the stations from disseminating the Christian message to Pakistan.

Monteduro stated that it would be difficult to reopen the stations “without a collective indignation.”

Fr. Robert McCulloch, an Australian priest who has lived in Pakistan for 34 years, has noted that the ban on Christian TV stations might be due to the souring relations between India and Pakistan rather than Christian persecution.

He stated that there is “intense discrimination” against Christians in the country but it cannot be described as “persecution” because other Christian institutions have not been banned.

“Our hospitals are open, we’ve got a major seminary in Karachi for the last four years where there are 84 seminarians coming in and out, that’s open,” he said.

“People have got to be careful in terms of what words they use in describing the situation there. Discrimination certainly, but persecution not,” he added.

– christian times

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