Pakistan suspends TV channel ARY News 'for defamation'

image copyrightAFP
image captionThe suspension of ARY News TV comes four months after GEO TV was briefly taken off air

Pakistan's authorities have suspended a TV channel supporting opposition politician Imran Khan for 15 days for allegedly defaming the judiciary.

ARY News TV was also fined 10m rupees ($97,089; £60,182) by broadcasting regulator Pemra.

It is the second time in four months that regulators have halted broadcasts by a network.

In June, Pemra gave a similar suspension to GEO TV - Pakistan's most watched news channel.

In a statement, the watchdog said ARY News had been "maligning honourable courts and judiciary".

It added that the station had a habit of not complying with Pemra's regulations.

ARY News has allied itself with Mr Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, who both accuse Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of vote-rigging in last year's elections.

Its suspension mirrors that of Geo, Pakistan's largest and most influential TV station, which was suspended for 15 days in June following a defamation row with the powerful ISI intelligence agency.

Pakistan began giving private channels licences in 2002 prompting a media boom. Critical reportage on the army and judiciary, however, remains a sensitive subject.

Monday's decision has been condemned by local and international human rights groups.

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