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Pakistan information minister resigns

New Delhi, Sat, 14 Mar 2009 NI Wire

Pakistan’s information minister Sherry Rehman on Saturday resigned from her post for her differences with the government over the handling of media. With this, the political crisis in Pakistan has worsened further.

The setback came a day after PPP-led Pakistani government blocked the telecast of Geo and Aaj TV channels in major Pakistani cities in an annoyance over the coverage of protesting lawyers and opposition parties’ point of views by the media.

President Asif Ali Zardari’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar, however, denied that she had resigned. Media reports say Prime Minister Gilani has not yet accepted her resignation. Even her ministry has not yet confirmed her resignation.

The minister tendered her resignation Saturday morning owing to her differences with the government over its media policy, Geo TV quoted an official as saying on condition of anonymity.

A former journalist, Rehman, who was regarded as one of the most prominent members of the federal cabinet, resigned after constantly overlooking her request to go soft with the media. Sources said she even had heated arguments with senior members of the government, accusing her for being failed to control media, after some television channels were penalised for airing the so-called anti-government views during the lawyers’ Long March.

Rehman was said to be against the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) blocking of private TV channels without taking her into confidence. Meanwhile, censorship of the cable transmission of Geo TV and Aaj TV has attracted a worldwide condemnation.

Earlier on Friday, a Paris based Media Rights Body, Reporters Without Borders, has demanded immediate transmission of News channels, stating: “We urge the authorities in Islamabad to restore transmission of Geo News and Aaj TV without delay. Such crude censorship will in no way help to resolve Pakistan’s political crisis.”

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