Pakistan frees TV executive held over an anti-army broadcast
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani court in the southern port city of Karachi on Thursday ordered the release of a TV news director who was arrested the previous day over an anti-army broadcast, his colleagues and lawyer said.
The release of Ammad Yousaf, a senior executive at the country’s popular private ARY Television, came a day after police raided his home and arrested him. He had been accused of broadcasting an anti-army interview with Shahbaz Gill, chief of staff at Tehreek-e-Insaf opposition party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Khan, a famous cricket player turned Islamist politician, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April.
Pakistan’s media regulatory body also shuttered the TV station.
According to ARY, after his release, Yousaf thanked all those who had raised their voices against his arrest. However, by late Thursday, ARY was still off the air.
In the controversial interview, broadcast on Monday, Gill urged Pakistani troops and officers to refuse to obey “illegal orders” from the military — remarks that were seen by authorities as incitement to mutiny.
Gill was subsequently arrested on treason charges for which he could face the death penalty.
Earlier Thursday, Reporters Without Border condemned Yousaf’s arrest and the TV’s suspension, and accused Pakistan’s powerful military of orchestrating them.
“The same crude censorship and harassment of journalists critical of the government keeps on recurring,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of the group’s Asia-Pacific desk,
ARY has distanced itself from Gill’s remarks, stressing that it is not part of any campaign against the army. Khan came to power in 2018, promising to break the pattern of family rule in Pakistan, but his opponents said he was elected with help from the military, which has ruled the country for half of its 75-year history.