Pakistan bans media coverage of militant groups

AP News
|
Posted: Nov 03, 2015 11:05 AM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan has banned all TV and radio coverage of Islamic militant groups, including the one suspected of carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and ordered broadcast outlets to stop running advertisements for the groups' charities.

The move comes nearly a year after the government vowed to crack down on homegrown militants following a Taliban attack on a school that killed more than 150 people, mainly students.

The agency that regulates Pakistani media issued the order late Monday, specifically mentioning Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation. Both charities are linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic militant group suspected of carrying out the Mumbai attacks, which killed more than 160 people.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said failure to abide by the order would result in the cancellation of broadcast licenses. It listed 72 local groups covered by the directive.

Lashkar-e-Taiba was set up with the aid of Pakistani intelligence to fight in the disputed region of Kashmir. The government has officially banned the group but has done little to crack down on it.

The charities have played a major role in the response to natural disasters, including last week's earthquake in neighboring Afghanistan, which killed nearly 400 people, including more than 270 in Pakistan.

But the charities are also seen as a militant front. One of the founding members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, now heads both charities linked to the group. The U.S. has offered a $10 million reward for his capture, but he lives in the open in Pakistan and often appears in TV interviews.

Pakistan has long cultivated close ties with Islamic militant groups, viewing them as allies against archrival India and a way of projecting influence in Afghanistan.