President Musharaaf of Pakistan and PEMRA (Pakistan’sÂ version of the FCC,)Â have ammended rules for broadcast that effectively allow them to shut down political dissent in the run-up to the elections. It also allows the possibility of shutting down some of the mullah’s stations, such as the ones that broadcast against child vaccinations.
Which way it would be used was unclear until tonight. Already there are reports of general stations being shut down that broadcast political leaders in Pakistan.
This is a dangerous path. As can be seen from Venezuela’s attempts to shut down dissent, acting in this manner can create more unrest than allowingÂ inflammatory views does. The good news is that the newspapers, blogs, and internet are still operative, and seem to very open, carrying many articles adamantly against the move.
This will keep the discussion to the educated, and cut off some provacateurs who appeal to the illiterate and poor, sometimes to bad results. That said, it’s always bad when government interfers with free discourse, and this is a blow to freedom. Normally I link to the stories in the papers, but tonight instead I will link to blogs, where they report that some stations have already been shut down. This way you will be able to get a sense for things in the comments.
The first report comes from Metroblogging Islamabad, and the second from All things Pakistan. I am also going to link to the Gupshup forum topic on this, you will get a good look at the full spectrum of opinion there.