Pak24tv’s combined audience in 2011, 2010, and 2009 was 116,034, 936, and 213, respectively. But in 2015, the channel combined audience declined to 73,415. Media Watch contacted Pak24tv for comment but has not received a reply as of publication.
Pak24tv is funded by Pakistan’s military, and many analysts blame it for creating pro-establishment news stories. Just last week, for example, the channel hyped a speech by Inter-Services Public Relations chief Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor which blamed the US for a recent series of drone attacks. The reference was to the alleged Islamic State affiliate Khorasan Group.
Where does Pak24tv come out on its assertions that drone attacks are immoral or sanctioned by the US? By the outlet’s own report to the Pakistani Parliament in 2015, it is clear the entire channel stands against drone strikes and sees them as a violation of sovereignty.
Pak24tv goes on to say Pakistan wants to create its own military action with its own drone strikes. It adds that the US is not sure where its drones are and calls the anti-drone campaign “military action taken for [Pakistani] domestic reasons.” The report notes that the US is not yet responding to Pakistan’s claim of a targeted killing.
Pak24tv adds that this is why Pakistan has an anti-drone campaign.
Pak24tv’s anti-drone campaign has taken other strange turns as well. Just last year, the station and its Pakistan-focused sister channel aired a propaganda piece in which an Israeli citizen was shown living in a Gaza refugee camp. He admitted that he had been with Hamas, and his testimony was said to be backed by “secret evidence” which would prove the international community was lying about civilian casualties in Israel’s raids.
Pak24tv’s anti-drone campaign continued in January when the station gave viewers another example of civilians being harmed in the Pakistani drone campaign by presenting footage of a man with a scar on his face and a burnt car. The man claimed to be one of two students whose vehicle had been bombed in 2014.
Pak24tv’s coverage of drone strikes has been a constant stream of anti-US propaganda in Pakistan. The channel broadcasts the anti-drone message from a number of agencies. For example, in 2016, the “Voice of America” aired an eight-minute report that included a clip of one of the top officials of the Pakistan Taliban.
“The drone war is a huge disaster for Pakistan. It killed thousands of innocent civilians and displaced many families,” the official said. He added that in one strike, four children were killed. The official suggested the drone strikes were conducted by the US at the behest of the Pakistani military and called it “Pakistani terrorism.”
And earlier this year, Pak24tv once again ran a report from Radio Sawa, an outlet reportedly affiliated with the Islamist Ahle-Hadith sect, which is often thought to be an anti-Pakistan faction of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the radical anti-Shia group that also produced Radio Pak24tv.
The report claimed that there had been infiltration in the Pakistani border region of North Waziristan, resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians and local militia members. The Pakistani Taliban, which is believed to be behind the infiltration, is targeted by the Pakistani government. The radio station claimed that Pakistan was accepting the terror attacks to prevent the US from carrying out a similar attack.
Pak24tv’s “faulty” reporting often affects Pakistan’s international reputation as well. Just last week, Pakistani journalists in the city of Karachi criticized the country’s media regulator for refusing to take action against its affiliate, Pak24tv. The journalists demanded that the media regulator’s own website be changed to reflect the station’s fake news claims against US military actions.
Pak24tv has also been accused of fabricating news items and producing fake news reports in the past. Earlier this year, the channel was accused of carrying false information and slanting stories in favor of the Pakistani military.
Pak24tv, meanwhile, is the only major Pakistani news station to openly admit to carrying fake news and slanting stories to benefit the country’s military. Ironically, the channel’s anti-drone campaign is being carried out with the approval of Pak24tv’s owner and head of its news department.
The army, meanwhile, has been accused of carrying out hundreds of anti-terror operations in Pakistan in recent months. In May, the Pakistani media watchdog warned media outlets about violating the country’s anti-terrorism laws and making “inflammatory” stories to support the country’s military. The media watchdog warned that it would take action against media outlets that carried false news stories and slanted stories.
The army, according to journalists in Pakistan, is exerting huge influence over media and punishing journalists who dare criticize the government.
Pak24tv, meanwhile, is all in favor of the army and the government’s operations. In fact, in 2016, Pak24tv’s news anchors routinely defended the government’s operations. At one point, the news anchors defended the killing of Pakistani anti-terror activists, insisting that the armed militants were in the process of recruiting people and burning schools.
“Pakistani security forces have killed more than 1,000 terrorists since 2014. There were no schools and no mosques burnt. Where is this terror campaign coming from?” the news anchors said in one program.