BOL News, a leading news network, has unexpectedly taken journalist and anchorperson Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din off the air. Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din hosted the popular prime-time talk show “Ab Baat Hogi,” which aired on Saturdays and Sundays at 7 PM. However, his show has been abruptly discontinued, and he has been removed from the BOL News screen.
The alarming trend of journalists losing their jobs and facing restrictions on their appearances on television screens has unfortunately become a norm in the country. Unannounced censorship practices have plagued the media industry for some time now. It is not the first instance of a journalist being sidelined; Imran Riaz Khan, who has been missing for 20 days, was previously taken off air from BOL News and Express-News. Additionally, Hamid Mir, a senior journalist, faced a similar fate during the previous government when he was removed from the screen on Geo News.
Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din has been a victim of harassment by the state, primarily due to his vocal criticism of the power corridors in Pakistan. Recent events saw him being issued a notice by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on charges of anti-state propaganda, with attempts made to arrest him. However, this notice was successfully challenged in the Islamabad High Court and local courts in Lahore, resulting in his acquittal.
This incident underscores the need to uphold the principles of press freedom and ensure the protection of journalists’ rights in Pakistan. Freedom of expression and the ability to express dissenting opinions are fundamental pillars of a democratic society. The abrupt removal of Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din from BOL News raises concerns about the country’s shrinking space for independent journalism.
The press, civil society, and international community are urged to monitor the situation closely, advocate for press freedom, and safeguard the rights of journalists to report without fear or undue interference.