Late Friday night I received a couple of SMS’s alerting me that PEMRA had suddenly pulled and banned a much popular military show called ‘We Are Soldiers’ off-air. This news came a day before the episode on Special Services Group and Marines was to be aired on Saturday at 7:05 pm, but according to a PEMRA [Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority] this show was unacceptable for public consumption and hence needed to be taken off-air
A flurry of twitter and SMS messages followed but late Friday night no further development was reported apart from the initial set of messages which mostly read – “WE ARE SOLDIERS” the first documentary on the PAK ARMY on @DAWNNEWS TV has been banned by PEMRA – The following day [Saturday] discussions across the board revealed that the show was initially designed to cover the Marines which is an organization under the jurisdiction of the Pakistan Navy. The episode as customary was sent to the Army headquarters, despite the fact that it is shot under careful supervision of the ISPR to ensure that Wajahat and his news team does not go over board. The DVD reportedly was also forwarded to the Naval Chief who incidentally blew a gasket, accusing Dawn for not coming for approval well before the airing date but instead the Naval team called up PEMRA and had them issue orders to block the entire Dawn News show “We are Soldiers”
The host and the team at Dawn News, through a number of sources, maintain that there was nothing detrimental or damaging to the Pakistani Military, apart from a casual discussion [I am told] where the show host Wajahat mildly compares the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Navy [specifics have not been shared]. It seems that this comparison was not well appreciated by the Naval Chief.
Historically its has been a known fact amongst local military circles that a serious friction does exists between the flamboyant Pakistan Army and the underdogs Air Force and Navy, it is very much possible that Wajahat may have touched this sensitive nerve which may have infuriated the Navy. The irony is that the Navy did not choose to call Dawn News directly maybe with a request for re-editing or removal of the segment but instead they in typical style went over board to haul in the PEMRA body and completely shut down this impressive show which was most definitely portraying the Pakistan military in a very positive and inspiriting light.
Late Saturday evening I was even informed that many naval officers too had no idea of this controversial development and were actually gathering together to watch this show in their respective residencies, only to discover that it had been pulled off-air. Many were amused but most were more anxious to request the Dawn team to maybe ‘accidentally or even anonymously youtube the version’ [a direct request from an unnamed naval officer]
Lets not forget the previous run in with Dawn News Anchorperson Matiullah Jan and the Pakistan Naval Chief in August 2008, which also resulted in the Naval Chief in ordering the PTA [Pakistan Telecommunication Authority] to block this video as well