Senate threatens to ban Pakistani channels
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Meshrano Jirga on Saturday warned of banning Pakistani TV channels in a tit-for-tat response to Islamabad for not allowing Afghan channels to air their programmes in the neighbouring country.
Since 2011, Afghan TV channels have been restricted from airing their programmes in Pakistan.
However, Shamshad, TOLO and Lemar TVs could be watched in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces until recently, but they too have been blocked.
The Pakistani government has asked Afghan TVs to pay $80,000 in tax for airing their programmes in the country.
In this regard, the Afghan channels have lodged their complaints with the upper house’s complaints commission.
The house on Saturday summoned Deputy Information and Culture Minister Semin Hasanzada to brief lawmakers on problems facing Afghan TVs in Pakistan.
Hasanzada said her ministry had several times urged the Pakistan embassy in Kabul to provide information on the issue, but the embassy was yet to do so.
She said the channels could not afford to pay $80,000 in tax to the Pakistani government on annual basis, asking Islamabad to review the decision.
She said the information ministry had shared the issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve it through diplomatic channels.
Zalmai Zabuli, the complaints commission head, criticised the information ministry for ignoring the problem, saying the ministry had failed to properly raise the issue with the Pakistani embassy.
He warned if the Pakistani government continued to seek the imposition of taxes on Afghan TV channels, Afghanistan would respond the same way by blocking Pakistani TV channels.
According to the Ministry of Information and Culture, currently five Pakistani TV channels are watched in Afghanistan.
Zabuli said the information ministry was duty-bound to protect the rights of Afghan journalists and media inside and outside of Afghanistan.
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