Govt, opposition choose sides in media-army tussle

* Govt says closing of a channel means closure of everything * Opposition PPP says forces are custodians of the country

ISLAMABAD: The debate over the current political situation in the Upper House of parliament on Friday clearly indicated that the government’s ministers and senators support a private TV channel, and the PPP-led opposition supports the armed forces in the ongoing tussle between the government, armed forces and media. 
However, both sides termed as wrong the flashing of picture of ISI chief on a private TV channel during its coverage of the attack on its anchorperson Hamid Mir. But the government sought acceptance of the apology of the channel. The opposition, however, said that the armed forces are protecting the boundaries of the country and have rendered great sacrifices, and termed as wrong the channel’s representation of the intelligence agency chief as a criminal. 
Concluding the debate, Federal Minister of SAFRON Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch stressed against derailing democracy and asked for support to parliament in the ongoing uncertainties. “Unfortunately, there are some forces that want to come into power through back door. But all major political parties, including PPP, ANP, JUI-F, have assured full support to the government if someone attempts to take an undemocratic step,” the minister said, adding that he has also advised the PTI to raise its concerns, if any, in the National Assembly, which he claimed is the proper forum for discussion. 
“The PTI is not clear in its stance,” he said while claming that there are some people who are unable to wait for four years till the government completes its tenure. About the TV channel issue, the minister said, “Let us wait for the judicial commission already probing the matter”, saying that the dispute within media and bringing religion into this was not in the interest of the country. He also condemned the showing of the ISI chief’s picture on the TV channel for eight hours and termed it unjustifiable. 
The minister claimed that former military dictator Pervaiz Musharraf and his companions wanted to create a tussle, and derail democracy in the country, and some immature people are supporting them. He also claimed that the government has the ability to resolve the dispute between media and the premier intelligence agency, “but let us wait for the decision of the commission. The private TV channel made a mistake that could have been made by anyone. Gen Musharraf made a mistake and martyred up to 8,000 forces”.
Meanwhile, PML-N’s Senator Mushahidullah Khan said both the media and armed forces have rendered sacrifices of lives and both of them have an important role in the development of the country. “Several songs were sang for Pakistani forces, but not for General Niazi who laid down arms. No one remembers any dictator. Media and forces both committed mistakes. If someone committed mistake they should not be crushed. Several forces personnel got martyred over the direction of Gen Musharraf but no one took him to task. Geo TV and judiciary also made mistakes. If Geo television is closed then everything will be closed,” Senator Mushahidullah warned. 
PPP’s Senator Robina Irfan said depicting the ISI chief’s as a criminal is not in the interest of his department which, she added, was the custodian of the country. “The channel should wait for the decision of the investigation committee. We all are Pakistani and should strengthen our institutions,” she advised. 

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