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Pakistan 23 April 2003

Cable TV firm’s office burned near Quetta

A dozen thugs set fire to equipment in the office of a cable TV firm in Nawan Kali, near Quetta (in the southwestern province of Baluchistan) on 22 April and threw the company’s security guard into the flames. He was taken to hospital in critical condition. The firm had received threats and an official of the Quetta cable operators’ association told a press conference that the attackers may have been Islamist militants. He said cable TV service in the province would be suspended in protest. The ruling conservative-Islamist coalition in Baluchistan has called for cable TV to be banned and the province’s information minister has launched a drive against "pornography."


Cable TV installations sabotaged again in Peshawar

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today condemned a new attack on cable TV installations in the Peshawar region, the second in less than a week, and called on federal information minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad to restore the rule of law in the North West Frontier Province and punish those responsible.

The organisation said it feared local officials would not take action against the saboteurs, since some members of the conservative Islamic coalition government in the province, which borders Afghanistan, had denounced cable TV as a "bad influence."

Tribal nazim Tariq Mateen and militants destroyed the cable TV network in part of Peshawar on 10 January by ripping out 15-20,000 metres of cable and said such TV was henceforth banned. They called on the authorities to "remove this curse" from the region so Pakistanis could live according to the rules of Islam.

Witnesses reported that some residents fought the attackers during the incident, which came at the end of a deadline by the Islamists to the cable operators to stop transmission by 10 January.

The attacks occurred the day after the operators had resumed services after a two-day suspension in protest against the destruction on the night of 7 January by 30 armed men of the equipment of the firm OK Cable Network in Peshawar. The attack happened only a few hundred metres from the Guldahar police station but nobody was arrested. After talks with central government officials, the operators had decided to resume service to their tens of thousands of customers.

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