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Chairman Cable Operator Association Khalid Arain addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press club. — Photo by Online
Chairman Cable Operator Association Khalid Arain addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press club. — Photo by Online

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Friday adopted a watered down resolution against the Geo Television for, what the opposition called, airing of a blasphemous programme in its morning transmission, while protest rallies against the media house were held across the country.

The original mover of the resolution and the opposition leader, Mahmoodur Rasheed of the Tehreek-i-Insaf, wanted a harsh wording like “blasphemous and hurting sentiments of 180 million people”.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, however, came up with some amendments and read his version, which was later adopted by the House in which the ruling PML-N enjoyed a two-thirds majority.

It says: “The House condemns this blasphemous attempt and urges the [electronic media regulator] Pemra, which has already taken a notice, to act according to law and justice. The house also urges ulema to provide intellectual and religious guidance to the people of Pakistan.”

Religious parties and associations and organisations of traders, lawyers, students and people from other walks of life took to streets in almost all big and small towns from Karachi to Peshawar against the offensive content aired a couple of days ago and demanded a ban on the TV channel.

In Karachi, at least 12 reporters associated with the media house disrupted a press conference by the Cable Operators Association, misbehaving with the guests and damaging the press club property.

The act invited condemnation from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

The Islamabad [Aabpara] police got registered a report in their Daily Diary (Roznamcha) against Geo in response to a complaint by a lawyer.

Complainant Mansoor Shah pleaded that a case be registered against Geo, its owner Mir Shakeelur Rehman, son Mir Ibrahimur Rehman, morning show host Shaista Lodhi, Veena Malik, Asad Khatak and the administration for blasphemy during the show aired on May 14.

The complaint was sent to the prosecution department to seek legal opinion.

In Lahore, PTI women’s wing threatened to lay siege to the Geo offices, while Jamaatud Dawa, Tehreek Hurmat-i-Rasool, Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen, and various students’ wings of political parties staged rallies in various parts of the city. They threatened a countrywide movement if the channel was not banned.

Scholars of the Sunni Ittehad Council, a conglomerate of Barelvi school of thought, have already issued a fatwa against the channel forbidding the followers from watching it.

Council chief Hamid Raza had also threatened that his organisation would hold a sit-in for an indefinite period if ‘justice’ was not served.

Geo, in its broadcast since Thursday, has repeatedly apologised for the offensive content and has been seeking divine forgiveness.

Cable operators: In Karachi, the leadership of the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan (CAP) addressed a press conference at another venue after facing a mayhem-like situation at the KPC.

The leaders asked CAP members across the country to decide ‘according to their conscience’ whether to screen Geo TV to their clientele. However, they cautioned, operators should ensure that nothing came in conflict with religious harmony and national security.

In a statement distributed at the at the KPC, Khalid Arain, CAP chairman, said his organisation had appealed to the Geo TV management at an earlier press conference to refrain from its ‘vicious propaganda campaign’ against a premier national security institution because ‘such irresponsible act’ had hurt the sentiments of viewers.

“But, we say it with extreme grief that Geo TV is continuously creating chaos while acting against the interests of the country and the nation. That episode had not yet finished when its morning show anchor desecrated the sanctity of the Ahle Bait, which has angered everyone gravely,” he said.

Mr Arain said members could not bear the responsibility of the ‘irresponsible broadcasting’ by Geo TV because “we don’t know whether it goes for another blunder in future that could desecrate the tenets of Islam or target national security or humiliate the Pakistan Army”.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2014

Comments (46) Closed

Amused Audience May 17, 2014 01:02pm

Geo now out of the frying pan and into the fire now!

Imtiaz Hydari May 17, 2014 01:24pm

Isn't this typical of the current mind set in Pakistan? An unreserved apology is not sufficient to quench the thirst of those seeking any excuse to create an atomosphere of mischief and division resulting in unnecessary confrontation. Sadly, tolerance and forgiveness is no more part of our glorious religious tradition - now replaced with the spirit of revenge and manipulation. Reprimand the guilty (elaborately done) extract an apology (already given) obtain a promise to be careful in future (already made) - now for heavens sake move on! These ongoing dharnas and protests and marches do nothing other than sow hatred and division when the dire need is for unity.

A Pakistani May 17, 2014 02:48pm

Press and Media have to stand together if they are not interested in their individual business interests but in ensuring freedom of speech as well as to monitoring their performance. No TV channel and newspaper should be banned. We are living in 21st Century and should be mature enough for reasonable reaction to what happens around us. NO EMOTIONS, ONLY REASONS.

Shabbir May 17, 2014 03:11pm

Time has proven many things where Pervez Musharraf was right in his actions. Sadly, many people are realising a little late. But, alas, we victimised him based on his honest actions taken in the best interest of the country.

Paki May 17, 2014 03:12pm

@A Pakistani No doubt you are a PAKI

Paladin May 17, 2014 03:29pm

Geo an Jang group have repeatedly breached the Pemra rules and should be made to suffer the consequences.

shabbzz May 17, 2014 03:29pm

Isn't this issue 'no matter how objectionable' is being 'blown' out of proportion. Probably DELIBERATELY. !!!.. No one is trying to 'deflate' the situation and 'everybody' in inflating it further.

AKA May 17, 2014 04:03pm

PMLN government is cooking polarization in Pakistan in a pressure cooker which has no hole to release the pressure.

Dr khan May 17, 2014 04:15pm

Move on. Come on.... What a stone age mentality. Our society is going nuts. Every other person is going to face blasphemy sooner or later. At least they asked for an apology. We can't forgive them coz they hurt our so called sentiments, what about those politicians who betrayed us every time we elect them and again we forgive them.... I don't know what's wrong with you people.

sarah shah May 17, 2014 04:47pm

i think geo has enjoyed its good days its end

Khanm May 17, 2014 05:27pm

Don't take away the freedom of speech. It is going to be dangerous the path. If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. Is that what what we want to be. This is the choice we have to make.

Arman Zain May 17, 2014 05:34pm

What Geo transmitted cant simply be a mistake. All the events in program are planned before hand, rehearsed and then transmitted. Geo really need to look into its organization and see if their are factors which are tying to create an environment of confrontation. As far as apology is concern, it wouldn't be sufficient to come out and say Sorry. Then all the criminal and wrong doers should say sorry and would be allowed to go home, that is never the case. Government should take action, penalized them and work out some regulation for media houses. The way it is going, we have a media war in our hands and Pakistan is already indulge in too many wars please not Media war as this will really damage Pakistan.

SHAIKH May 17, 2014 05:42pm

ab GEO key beghair Geo! pemra will not wake up it already knows whats going on for 20 years by jang group. now its time for govt or courts to act depending on the people's petitions.

Salim A May 17, 2014 06:00pm

The feelings of everyone in this country are so easily offended. Everything is labeled under blasphemy to take blood revenge from any one violating their sensitivities. The Pakistani nation needs to grow up and start behaving like civilized adults. I don't see many of these same people raising a finger or word or street agitation when girls and their schools are blown up, poor women are gang raped and innocents are blown to pieces by the Sharia seeking terrorists. No violation of religion there???

Zainab May 17, 2014 06:13pm

@Dr khan The only thing wrong with these people is their ignorance. They a struggling to remain backward. It is a lot easier to fight for religion than to practice it.

sab May 17, 2014 06:30pm

Freedom of speech even in the developed countries does not mean you can create a threat towards national security and its departments, just like anti semitic comments are dealt with an iron hand

Syed Ahmed May 17, 2014 07:06pm

@Shabbir Sure, Pervaiz Musharraf was also right when he sent Ifthikar Chaudhry's reference to the Supreme Judicial Council for his judicial activism and involvement in corruption and other irregularities. His son's becoming billionaire in a period of 5 years, got Blue Passport and his money laundering case seny to cold storage.

AdHawk May 17, 2014 07:14pm

We gave the Mullahs a bite; now they want the whole cake. Deal with it.

Moby May 17, 2014 07:50pm

Oh dear, here we go again - resolutions and protests and whatnot against a TV company. In what country in the does the legislative branch of the government adopt resolutions against a private business? I fear it is a matter of time before "religion" and "honor" are insulted and Geo is burned to the ground.

ladies and gentlemen May 17, 2014 07:50pm

I was trying to find out what was the exact problem or content of a TV show that these intolerant goons are going nuts about. "Blasphemy"!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sick and tired of that word and it's abundant use these days.

People have lost their minds I tell you. Pure and simple, this label is all one needs to settle scores with a rival.

I bet most of the people have not even watched the particular TV show and yet , are ready to protest and waste time on a single call from a politician or mullah.

Brain power is out and blind following is in. What a pathetic situation .

rising_Eagle May 17, 2014 08:10pm

Good work but i think most of the channel shows vulgarity in there shows specially in morning shows which effect the culture and ethics of our future generation so i think its better to ban Geo i hope other channels will also learn now. no one is against freedom of speech but there should be some limits and i think there should be some strict code of conduct. Also pemra should see from where these channels are getting fund as Imran khan exposed geo funding this need to be done by Govt officials. I dont know where is govt on this matter why they dont give there statement on this important issue......

Abdul Malik May 17, 2014 10:22pm

@Imtiaz Hydari : We said. Absolutely.

Jehan Mir,MD May 17, 2014 10:25pm

Pakistanis have nothing better to do than raise voices against just about anything.

People are named Rehman,Rahim,Ghafoor,the names of Allah (God) and Muhammad, Mustafa, Amine, names for Prophet and nobody gets upset and there is no blasphemy.Even in Hinduism, people are named Krishna, Ram, Laxman,Seeta and Radha and nobody minds. Now we have a Qawali playing in the background mentioning the names of companions of prophet, his cousin Ali and daughter and everybody is screaming blasphemy when everyone knows that Veena and Asad have nothing to do with those revered personalities who lived almost 1400 years ago. It is the sickness of minds of people to associate Qawali with Veena and Asad. Instead, it set up a good example for them to follow. Blasphemy seems to have become a joke in Pakistan. Anyhow, Shaista has apologised and that should end the matter there.

XiJinglu May 17, 2014 11:09pm

We your country undergoing Talibanization. Please take control.

Awais May 18, 2014 12:24am

I guess this is what happens if you take on ISI in pakistan

nadeem May 18, 2014 01:54am

@Shabbir dear sorry to say shame on you and on all those who still support Mush. Nothing else.

Khan May 18, 2014 04:34am

@Imtiaz Hydari all this confusion is being created to divert people's attention from real issues like insecurity, inflation, lawlessness, corruption and highhandedness of the armed forces.

Mike Ghaous May 18, 2014 07:00am

Too bad for Geo....The program producers should have exercise caution while airing such an episode... this goes for all live show anchors who sometimes get out of control. just for TRP.. money & fame can be brutal... if not handled with care..

sharouk May 18, 2014 07:00am

@Imtiaz Hydari This is the point of no return for Geo. The owners of this company have shown a clear disdain for Pakistan, its founding father, its institutions and its citizens.

AZMAISH May 18, 2014 07:02am

I saw this program which has raised much controversy among some in our country. One can see how it would offend viewers with a strong religious mindset. However, it's important in our faith when one unintentionally does something against the norm of our faith, for the accusers to clarify, question then seek a resolution leading to forgiveness if accused is contrite and asks Allahtallah for forgiveness. We need to move forward, and not dwell on this sad incident which doesn't bode well for a progressive society. Islam should not be manipulated in such a way. Tolerance is what our Prophet (SAW) practiced even for those who did him many wrongs.

This is the statement of apology issued by Shaista Lodhi:

"Earlier, Dr Shaista Lodhi, the host of the famous morning show, apologized over the inadvertent mistake in the program that caused an uproar in various sections of the society.

According to her statement aired today, the remorseful host said that she along with the entire team feels sorry and tenders an apology for the circumstances that were triggered unintentionally due to the content of the program broadcast yesterday.

Dr Shaista said that she seeks forgiveness from the Almighty Allah over an unintended gaffe that hurt the sentiments of the people"

sri1 May 18, 2014 07:24am

@Imtiaz Hydari The more the appeasement the more the thirst of those faith addled idiots. They anyway needed an excuse to shut down Geo, why not do it using the easiest method possible in the purest of the lands. These tools need to be shown utter disrespect and media ire whatever the consequences - anyway they will have their way in the end and shut down the channel in the name of : 1. anti-national 2. betrayal of ideology 3. blasphemy 4. Anti-army 5. You-name-it

Husain Jan May 18, 2014 08:37am

@shabbzz To be blown out of proportion is a rather soft comment. When Geo has offered repeated apologies it need to be accepted. The video hurt the sentiments of masses and Geo withdrew it but what about ARY and Mubasshir Luqman who repeatedly telecast the said video ? Did not this repeat of video telecast by ARY hurt much more than one time telecast by Geo ? So why no uproar against Luqman and ARY ? This clearly suggests that all this being done under an agenda.

Husain Jan May 18, 2014 08:43am

@Syed Ahmed Blue passports are reported to have been issued to those who did not qualify for it. However, no action whatsoever has been taken against those on whose orders the passports were issued . The officials who issued the passports are also liable to punishment but those who ordered for issuance deserve much more severe punishment.

Husain Jan May 18, 2014 08:59am

@rising_Eagle Yes very right....most of the morning show programmes are against Islamic norms and yes many are vulgar for sure....but this vulgarity issue is not being taken care of by these so-called contractors of religion. Many of Ads can also fall in the category of being Un-Islamic but no religious party has ever raised objection.

Samansadiq May 18, 2014 09:47am These are not endorsement , it is just to show that it is usual to say salat on Prophet in marriages all over the Islamic countries , no one is killing anyone or saying blasphemy , some don't attend , and life goes on.

Samansadiq May 18, 2014 09:52am

I don't even watch GEO , but once it starts , no one knows who is next ,once witch hunt starts no one knows where it ends. If their was something objectionable , tell them the rules and get it over with , start giving in to threats and it will never end.

sb May 19, 2014 02:04am

Geo should be fined monetarily, with heavy fines. And also made to air in its own media advertising itself for the mistakes it makes.

Imran May 19, 2014 03:16am

@sab Who are you to explain national security? American media break stories of many CIA blunders like Abu Ghareeb jail or Gauntemala. Instead of giving them shut up call investigations are ordered. So don't try to b self proclaimed champ of defining National Security

Pragmatist May 19, 2014 04:10am

The so called blasphemous qawali was not appropriate but there is no need to overblow the issue. Overall the program as a whole was nice, informative, and entertaining. Let Pakistan mature. Instead of passing resolutions against a TV show the assemblies should abolish draconian blasphemy law that has brought misery to the minority citizens.

AJamal May 19, 2014 09:09am

Collective character of the nation is on full show. Putting fuel to the fire instead of accepting apology is our style. Remember reaction over YouTube saga. We killed our own brothers and put to fire our own property.

amused audience May 19, 2014 11:10am

What God hates most is the arrogance in any human being. This is a real life example how an arrogant media tycoon is getting spanks on his butts by the every section of the society.

abdul May 19, 2014 10:43pm

Well, I dont know the contents of the broadcast. But if any respectable country has been hurt at its core belief, be it USA, UK or even India or China, they would have dismantled the channel using various excuses.

ashique afridi May 20, 2014 10:43am

i dont understand. What happened? whats wrong with the song?

SRH May 20, 2014 04:34pm

@Dr khan Doctor Sb..... in my opinion this is not about sentiments alone. 1 question.... if Geo had a positive image and had worked constructively for Pakistan, then this issue might have slipped under the radar. Geo, as is widely believed now, has low level of patriotism and an agenda based on vested interests. This episode is just the melting point and not the issue in itself.

You can not allow anyone to damage your country in the name of 'freedom of speech', and Geo has crossed all limits. This episode is just a reason people are using to dismantle this evil structure

Muhammad Ali Khan May 20, 2014 09:02pm

Blasphemy law is actually a weapon used by religious fanatics and political leader to persecute liberal minded people. The question is who determines what is blasphemous and what is not and why should not people have the freedom to express their views. Because of these institutionalized persecution, the society has suffered a great deal in the hands of religious leaders and political leaders who play on people's religious sentiments.

I protest against the blasphemy law and all those who use it as weapon.

Dr. Muhammad Ali Khan

Kyle Brown May 21, 2014 03:59am

Where can I find a simple explanation of what happened and why everyone is up in arms? Right now this sounds like "insulting Turkishness" or some such nonsense.

Some of the comments seem to be implying that an institution was questioned. Is it the case that these institutions are beyond question, that they really can do no wrong?

But first, what happened? So much outrage, and nowhere can I find the actual thing that people are outraged about. Google seems to only find articles with the outrage, not with the event(s) itself.