Saturday, April 16, 2011

Geo Sports TV Ban Amid Pakistan's Youth Bulge

The reason most frequently cited for Pakistan's poor performance at international sporting events is the lack of funding, especially when compared with nations where the state or private sector sponsors spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on their athletes and sports teams.

For example, the Johnson-Ali model which was developed by the duo to predict participating nations' Olympics success, suggested that Pakistan would win seven medals, including three golds, won no medals at all at Athens Olympics. In fact, Pakistan has won three golds,three silvers and four bronze medals, a total of 10 medals in the entire history of its participation in Olympics movement since 1948. Eight out of the ten medals were won by Pakistan's field hockey team. The last Olympic medal Pakistan won was a bronze in 1992.

Johnson-Ali model was developed by Economics professor Daniel Johnson and his student Ms. Ayfer Ali to predict a country's Olympic performance using per-capita income (the economic output per person), the nation's population, its political structure, its climate and the host nation advantage. The Johnson-Ali model was described in a paper, “A Tale of Two Seasons: Participation and Medal Counts at the Summer and Winter Olympics,” that was written in 1999 with Ayfer Ali, while Johnson was on sabbatical at Harvard University and Ali was a student. It was published in Social Science Quarterly in December 2004."It's just pure economics," Johnson insists. "I know nothing about the athletes. And even if I did, I didn't include it."

In terms of funding, the recent growth in Pakistan's commercial media and its coverage of sports have offered a ray of hope, particularly for major Olympics sports which have historically been ignored. And it has come in the form of commercial sponsors looking to use the media coverage to promote their products and services to consumers. Geo Super, the nation's only TV channel dedicated to covering a whole range of sporting events in Pakistan, has led the way.

In addition to promoting sports, tv channels like Geo Super also have the salutary effect in promoting youth athleticism and fitness to play the sports being glamorized by the extensive coverage.

Unfortunately, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has recently pulled the plug on Geo Super, along with AAG, another Geo channel aimed at youth. This decision appears to be have been motivated by the short-sighted desire to hurt Jang media group financially to put pressure on its news channels to tone down their criticism of the current PPP government.

This bad and ill-timed decision has come at time when Pakistan is experiencing a major youth bulge. Fifty-seven per cent of Pakistan’s population is between 15 and 64, and 41 per cent are under 15. Only four per cent are over 65, according to the UN Population Fund.

This youth bulge can either be used to ramp up economic productivity leading to unprecedented prosperity in Pakistan, or it can cause severe social strife sparking a violent revolution. Channels like Geo Super offer an opportunity to promote pursuit of fitness to help build healthier bodies and create jobs through economic activity in the form of sales of sports apparel, shoes, fitness equipment and memberships of fitness clubs.

While the PPP politicians may find it expedient in the short term to tamp down criticism, this decision is likely to hurt Pakistan's youth the most at a time when there are few other outlets to release their energy in nonviolent ways. And the longer this decision is not reversed, the more likely it will hurt Pakistan's future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Johnson-Ali Model

Commonwealth Games Medals Per Capita 2010

IPL Mixes Cricket, Business and Entertainment

Pakistan's Youth Bulge

Geo Super Sports TV Channel


Anonymous said...

My dear pal, it looks like u really dont read the full story before writing bout issues.
Jung group did NOT have permission to air their channel from Pakistan. they along with all other channels took a license where they could air channel from outside of the country like ESPN n ten sports.
Plus AAG was shut cause Jang very cleverly started to broadcast sports on it when it only had a license to broadcast entertainment.
I don't understand why the Jung group breaks the law and are acting all Gung Ho bout it.It is a fact that they are wrong and this has been admitted by several employees working for the group. Please get your facts in order.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Jung group did NOT have permission to air their channel from Pakistan."

Then why was it allowed to broadcast for five years? And now it's been denied even the landing rights? This makes no sense!

There are much larger issues involved here....such as limiting funding and promotion of sports which go hand in hand with media coverage, and an attempt to silence a critical voice by hurting its finance.

This clumsy ban is going to backfire on the PPP (and hurt Pakistan's future) if the energy of the youth in a nation with over 40% youth population is not channeled constructively and peacefully.

The fact is that the govt is unhappy with Jang group because

Hamid said...

Pakistan has the most unchecked and unregulated media possibly anywhere in the world. For the country to achieve anything positive, strict media regulation is needed. The media persons, basically from among the journalistic community, are black mailers of the highest order and using media to further their narrow personal interests. Going back into the 70s, 80s and 90s, ie the time when journalism was limited to newspaper reporting only, you'll remember that journalist community was reputed among the educated Pakistanis, professionals etc as "blackmailers". The same people are now dominating the media and our public is naive enough to call it "media freedom".

Riaz Haq said...

Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the govt to restore Geo Super's satellite license immediately.

Having lost the court battle, the PPP govt and PEMRA are now likely to respond by encouraging significant competition in sports coverage by giving terrestrial transmission licenses to Geo's competitors to hurt Geo's profits.

It'll be a good outcome for consumers and advertisers alike. It will give them more choices in sports media space. It'll improve and increase sports coverage overall...and encourage more youths to participate in athletics and sports.

Anonymous said...

It seems you are completly unaware of the reality. You called Geo Super a promoter of sports in Pakistan.... Reality is that they are the destroyers of Pakistani sports. You paid PPP is against Geo Super.... The reality is that they have joined hands with Geo in destroying sports. Kindly open your eyes and be fair.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "The reality is that they have joined hands with Geo in destroying sports. Kindly open your eyes and be fair."

The answer is not to ban Geo Super, but to create healthy competition by encouraging more sports channels to improve sports sponsorship and coverage for Pakistan's youth development in althetics.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' story about soccer offering hope for poor slum kids in Karachi:

In the heart of one of Pakistan's most dangerous neighborhoods in the teeming city of Karachi, soccer pitches are keeping vulnerable teenagers from joining abundant gangs, kidnappers and extortion rackets.

Dozens of hard-scrabble soccer clubs give youngsters with few chances for education or work the opportunity to get off the streets and even dream of getting a nod to join a national team or a semi-professional club.

"There is so much talent in Lyari. It can be a great way of keeping these kids away from drugs and street crime especially if they are well paid and rewarded," said Yacoob Baloch, a soccer coach at one of the clubs.

Pakistan, a strategic U.S. ally, spends less than 2 percent of its gross domestic product on education which translates into a lack of skills needed to find work for much of the young population of the country of nearly 180 million.

Pakistan's police and security forces also lack funds, making it easy for criminals to thrive in Lyari, a densely populated area in Karachi with dilapidated buildings, potholed streets and raw sewage.

More than 1,600 people were killed in Karachi last year in either political and sectarian violence or by drug dealers, mafia hitmen and extortionists, marking the worst bloodshed since the army was called in to ease street battles in the 1990s.

But soccer has proven to be a way out of the chaos for some.

"Because of my focus on football, my mind has never wandered off to other things like drugs or violence," said Muneer Aftab, 15, who led Pakistan to victory in the under-16 South Asian Football Federation Championships in 2011, defeating arch-rival India.

"Playing football runs in my blood. I just want to play forever."

But for people like Aftab, there is only limited time to practice and usually only after being worn down by the daily grind in the sprawling city of 18 million on the Arabian Sea.

He wakes up at the crack of dawn to play soccer, goes to school during the day and helps his father who drives a rickshaw along Karachi's chaotic streets, and goes back to the soccer pitch at night.

"I know I am chasing my dream. But it's not easy," said Aftab, well-built, dark-skinned and shy.


Soccer has become a big hit in Lyari, no small feat because cricket is by far the most popular sport in Pakistan. There are 98 registered soccer clubs, 11 football grounds and two stadiums in Lyari, home to over 600,000 people.

If a player gets recognized in Lyari, not only the national team comes into sight, but also the chance to play for teams sponsored by corporations and banks that pay players a monthly salary.

The National Bank of Pakistan, for instance, gives Aftab 10,000 rupees ($111) a month to play in the semi-professional league.

During the last soccer World Cup, violence dropped sharply in Lyari. Residents gathered in the evening to watch matches on projector screens, a welcome change in a place where nighttime usually means gang warfare and abductions.

Ahmed Jan, a local coach and stadium manager, said Karachi's exposure to the sport began in the late 1950s.

Ships from Europe docked at the port. Sailors interacted with boys who worked as laborers and introduced them to soccer and kicked a few balls around.,0,5846553.story

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times story on Zong sponsoring soccer training of Pak youth in England:

Zong, the digital partner of Pakistani nation, will be sending 32 young boys to Manchester United Soccer School in the United Kingdom for a one week training camp. Zong’s media manager Amir Pasha told a group of journalists here on Wednesday that Zong was giving this ‘first of a kind opportunity’ of being a hero to the football fans of Pakistan. “In this regard, Zong – the fastest growing network of Pakistan – will be identifying schools teams with maximum number of 16 players per team. First 120 teams to register will then be given a chance to prove their mettle by competing against each other,” he added.

He said Zong Manchester United Staff would consult school football coaches for the selection of players. “16 players identified by the coaches will then come together to form a team.” He said in order to help young individual players a team briefing would be organised in which they would be provided guidance for the complete registration process along with the dates of all the fixtures.

“The trials for selection of teams will be conducted in major cities of Pakistan which includes Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad. A team of professional coaches will conduct these skilled-based trails and select the best players to form 8 teams with 16 players in each team. Three teams will be formed in Karachi, two in Lahore and one each in Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad,” added Amir.

He said matches would be held among all these teams and the winning team comprising 32 players would be sent to Manchester United Soccer School.

“All of those who want to participate in these nationwide football tournaments will be required to purchase and activate Zong-Manchester United SIM to enter the tournament,” he concluded.\03\29\story_29-3-2012_pg2_14

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC's Soutik Biswas on falling IPL ratings:

If TV ratings figures are to be believed, fans have had enough of cricket despite the nine-team, 76-match, seven-week Twenty20 tourney.

Viewer ratings were down 18.7% in the first six games - a time when interest in the tournament traditionally peaks - compared with the same period last year.

That's not all. Season V began on a wrong note with a tawdry Bollywood song-and-dance opening show which even appears to have put off fans. Two top sponsors have withdrawn. Brand and communication consultants are warning that the IPL brand is in "choppy waters", and the league needs a "stronger game plan to rejuvenate the brand". One brand consultancy firm has downgraded the league's value to $3.67bn, down 11% from 2010.

Remember, the response to IPL Season IV last year was lukewarm. TV ratings dropped by 29% and even the final met a tepid response. Cricket fans were savouring India's spectacular win in the World Cup which preceded the tournament, and had little appetite for more cricket.

Why is the thrill gone this year - at least in the early stages of the tournament? After all, this is the tournament which combines the sublime (sledgehammer batting, close finishes) and the ridiculous (Bollywood entertainment, cheerleaders, "strategic time outs" in the middle of the games to facilitate advertising breaks). Indians love tamasha (entertainment), and the IPL is still the best tamasha on offer.

For one, after the song and dances are over, it's finally all about cricket. India is still licking its wounds after a nightmarish international season in which it lost eight overseas Test matches on the trot - its worst run since the 1960s. Though Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international hundred in Dhaka last month was a welcome diversion, India failed to pick up the Asia Cup. Don't disrespect the fan, Rahul Dravid eloquently said at last year's Bradman Oration, and to expect fans to flock to cheer non-performing cricketers at the highest level is a bit fey.

Also, Indian stars are the league's biggest draw, and most of them have been performing indifferently or are absent in the ongoing edition. Tendulkar is hurt after the first game, and Sehwag and Dhoni, two big hitters, haven't fired yet. VVS Laxman isn't playing this season. Yuvraj Singh is recovering from cancer and is out of the game for a while. Saurav Ganguly's batting is past its sell-by date. Rahul Dravid is playing a post-retirement nostalgia gig. Yusuf Pathan, a Twenty20 star, has fizzled out. When the stars are largely down and out, fans stay away.

Fans also seem to be confused about whom to support. The IPL is a city-based league aiming to build up fan bases in half-a-dozen big Indian cities. But when Calcutta's icon Saurav Ganguly, Delhi's favourite Gautam Gambhir and Bangalore's biggest star Rahul Dravid end up leading the teams of Pune, Calcutta and Rajasthan, fan loyalties to home teams can begin to fray easily.

Interest will possibly pick up during the knockouts and the final at the fag end of the league. It may even pick up with more high-scoring games, edge-of-the-seat finishes, and big-bang batting by the stars.

But authorities simply cannot afford to let the IPL crash.

Listen to Sharda Ugra, India's top cricket writer, and you know why. "The IPL has now become a key component of world cricket's economy," she writes. "If it falters and fails because it is not alert to the audience climate around it, the domino effect around the cricket world will be damaging. Cricket's superstar status in many parts of its empire will be downgraded from club class to cattle class - all holy cows included."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR-APP report on development challenges discussed at UN:

Pakistan urged a major UN panel to help the international community respond to the challenges of development -- promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work -- so as to eradicate poverty.

"At a time when the world economy is facing multiple crises, the UN Economic and Social Council must play a robust role as the central mechanism for coordination of the activities of the UN system in the economic, social and related fields," Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar told a high-level session of 54-member ECOSOC, the economic arm of the United Nations.

The United Nations should be in the driving seat and not the spectators gallery," he said in the course of the annual ministerial review on economic issues affecting UN member states.

The Pakistani envoy said there was no gainsaying the fact that business as usual was no longer an option and we need to reset our economic model to promote sustained, strong and inclusive economic growth, as well as sustainable development.

"About 68 per cent of Pakistans population was under the age of 30, he said, adding, the labour force grew at 3 per cent annually. Like other member states, Ambassador Tarar said, the Pakistan Government faced the formidable task of creating jobs and decent working conditions amid multiple crises.

Two policy initiatives were particularly notable among the measures taken by the Government to promote productive capacity, employment and decent work.

1. Pakistan had made youth development and community engagement one of the pillars of economic growth, he said. Steps had been taken to harness the capacities of youth through vocational and technical training programmes. It was also promoting public-private partnership in this area.

2. The Benazir Income Programme (BISP) was a cash-transfer programme focusing on empowerment of women, the Pakistani envoy said. Through this programme, female members of beneficiary families were given monthly income supplement assistance in cash.

Positive policies, he said, did not make Pakistan immune to direct impact of natural and man-made disasters and global economic conditions, as well as difficulties faced by skilled and employable Pakistanis in securing productive employment abroad. Pakistan believed that enhanced employment opportunities abroad for skilled and semi-skilled labour dovetailed into poverty eradication.

Ambassador Tarar stressed the need to increase investments in productive capacities and address infrastructure gaps. Improving agricultural productivity and rural non-farm income opportunities were among Pakistans priorities, he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn piece on football (soccer) in Pakistan:

While Pakistan’s stature in world football remains unchanged, the landscape of football in Pakistan has changed tremendously over the last 10 or so years.

Fundamental to this has been the setting up of football leagues coupled with the impact of cable/satellite resulting in matches of all top foreign leagues of the world being telecast live.

Following on from the success of the department based K-League (brainchild of the late Hassan Musa of PIA), Karachi United FC launched the Karachi Premier League in 2003 (Karachi League). Thereafter, in 2004, the PFF organised the first ever national league, i.e., the PPFL. While other leagues have been set up from time to time, PPFL and the Karachi League are the only leagues that have managed to maintain continuity.

Whereas the Karachi League was and continues to aim at the promotion of club football in Karachi, the PPFL features the top teams in the country which essentially comprise of departments and the armed forces teams plus a handful of clubs.

Three teams, namely, Wapda (four titles), Army (two) and this season’s top team KRL (who will add a third title to their two previous ones) have been dominant in the nine seasons of the PPFL. On the other hand, the Karachi League has seen as many as seven different winners in its past nine seasons with Shahzad Mohammadan FC being the only club to have won two titles. The complete list of winners of the Karachi League is: Hyderi Baloch (2003), Lyari Labour Welfare Centre (2004-05), Young Ansari (2005-06), Keamari Mohammadan (2006-07), Shahzad Mohammadan (2007-08 and 2008-09), Chanesar Blue (2009-10), Baloch Youth (2010-11) and Burma Mohammadan (2011-12).

Whereas the PPFL follows a promotion/relegation model with teams from the second division, i.e., the PFF League (PFF-B) being promoted (bottom two of the PPFL are replaced by the top two in the PFF-B), given the large number of clubs in Karachi, the Karachi League essentially sees the top eight or so teams maintaining their places, whereas the remaining eight to 12 are nominated by the district associations of Karachi. The Karachi League has seen a constant evolution to manage the demands of the associations as well as sponsors. Hence, initially having been launched as a 10-team single league event, for the last few seasons, it has featured 20 top Karachi clubs divided into two groups of 10 each with the top four in each group advancing to the Super League/Playoff stage. From these eight, the top four qualify for the semis and final and the league has become more akin to the MLS format than the European model.

Where the PPFL has been successful is that it has been able to maintain the same number of teams and the proper double league format. However, criticisms abound as regards the congested nature of the fixtures, with players sometimes being subjected to three games in five days.

The fact that PPFL essentially features department and armed forces teams has also meant that attendances are poor, with the best supported teams being the Balochistan clubs Afghan FC (Chaman), Baloch FC (Noshki) and Muslim FC. In stark contrast, the Karachi League, despite being essentially at the level of a third division, routinely attracts healthy audiences with the highlight being the 2008-09 final between Shahzad Mohammadan and Nazimabad FC where a huge crowd of over 18,000 witnessed proceedings at the KMC Stadium. The playoff matches of that season’s Karachi League were also broadcast (recorded and not live) on TenSports. Last season’s final between eventual champions Burma Mohammadan FC and Karachi United FC saw a healthy crowd of 8,000 at the Baloch Mujahid Stadium.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on scuba diving in Karachi:

Meet Yousuf Ali of the Karachi Scuba Diving Centre (KSDC) and his daughter Rosheen – both teach people how to scuba dive and snorkel in Karachi. A breezy hour-long drive from the city and on towards the Mubarak Village is where the duo take Karachi’s adventure seeking crowds.

From Mubarak Village, people are taken to Charna Island on a boat, where they can experience diving, snorkeling and exploring the extensive marine life the Arabian Sea has to offer. However, as Ali explains in the video, the operations of an oil refinery are about to start in the area, which might just destroy this marine haven.

The KSDC has been in existence for the last 30 years, they promote environmental protection of all kind, especially underwater protection, and take groups for reef cleaning and conservation of the extensive coral reef life down below.

Recently Ali has worked with the WWF to catalog the different kinds of species the sea has to offer – they have compared the species cariation off the coast of sandy beaches versus rocky beaches in the country as well.

View the video to see exclusive footage of the various fish species, corals, plants and other marine life and hear the stories of beginners, amateur and veteran divers of the city.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on Pak team winning a regatta in Manila:


Karachi Boat Club (KBC) successfully defended their title at the International AREA-FEARA Regatta Trophy when the team outpaced clubs from India and Sri Lanka in the men’s fours event, while the women’s team bagged silver medal in the coxed-fours event at the Paoay Lake in Manila.

KBC clinched the title for the eighth time in a row at the tournament that featured nine countries and more than 100 rowers in nine events that ran through January 13 to 20.

Captain Arif Ikram, whose team comprised of Benney, Khurram Khwaja and Asghar Ali said the excitement of winning the trophy is still the same for him as it was eight years ago. The 12-member squad returned to Karachi on Friday after the win.

“We have been competing in this event for the past eight years now,” Ikram told The Express Tribune. “I hope our win would also motivate other amateur rowers in the country to do better. With this win we have showed them that there is plenty of scope in this sport. Meanwhile, there is a lot of activity on the local front as well so we are prepared to compete with the best clubs in the region.”

The KBC squad won six medals in the eight events of the tournament. Apart from the gold and silver medal in the fours event, the men’s team also won bronze in men’s pairs, single scull and fours race in the AREA (Amateur Rowing Association of the East) Trophy while women’s team won bronze in the AREA Women’s Double Scull event.

The women’s team consisted of Alizeh Premjee, Shehla Sajjad Gokal, Aleena Abid and the 14-year-old Salma Rabia Arif, who was also the youngest participant in the eight-day competition. Meanwhile, India’s Calcutta Rowing Club took the AREA Super Masters Trophy.

KBC will be preparing for the Asian Schools Championship in July and later a team will participate in the World Masters Championship in September in Italy.

“This is going to be the first time that our rowers will take part in the World Masters and we will start preparing for the event at least six months before the competition.”

livehq tv said...

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Geo Super Live

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News story on Pak skiers qualifying for winter olympics in Sochi:

KARACHI: Pakistan have qualified for the Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia, in February next year.

After participating in International Ski Federation (FIS) races held in Europe and Asia, Pakistan attained the required FIS points for participation in the Olympic Winter Games (OWG), the Ski Federation of Pakistan said on Sunday.

The Pakistani contingent comprising three skiers participated in the FIS races held from February 17 to March 18 in Italy, Lebanon and Turkey.

Mir Nawaz, Karim and Muhammad Abbas of Pakistan achieved 137, 130 and 122 FIS points, respectively.

Mir Nawaz won a silver medal in a momentous run of the FIS race (Slalom discipline) in Lebanon.

Muhammad Abbas of PAF was the first Pakistani skier to feature in the Giant Slalom discipline of Alpine Skiing during the Olympic Winter Games 2010 in Vancouver.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Sending Four Swimmers, 2 girls and 2 boys, to 2015 World Swimmming Championships … via SwimSwam​

The Pakistan Swimming Federation has announced a four-member roster — two women and two men — to represent Pakistan at the upcoming 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
All of the swimmers on the team have international swimming experience. Lianna Swan has represented Pakistan at several international meets, including Barcelona in 2013, and at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where she set the national record in the 100 freestyle and 50 breast.
Anum Bandey, who trains in London, swam for Pakistan as a 15 year-old at the 2012 London Olympic games as just the third woman ever to swim for Pakistan in the Olympics. Although she placed last in the 400 IM in the preliminary heats, she did set a new national record with that swim, a time of 5:34.64.
Teenager Mohammad Saad Amin competed at last fall’s Asian Games. He’s currently the national leader in the 50/100 free and 50 fly. He’ll be joined by fellow teenager Haris Bandey, who competed in sprint events at the Commonwealth Games last year in Glasgow, but who has the fastest Pakistani times this year in the 200 IM and 400 IM.
According to the Pakistan Swimming Federation press release, swimmer were selected on the basis of their performance at Pakistan’s National Championship, which was held this April.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan wins #Asian #Squash championship for the record 15th time.

Defending champion Pakistan has won the Asian teams Squash Championship, beating Hong Kong in the final on Sunday.

Pakistan successfully defended the title as duo of Farhan Zaman and Farhan Mehboob outclassed their opponents to ensure 2-0 win for Pakistan.

First to enter the court was Farhan Zaman who recovered from 1-2 deficit to beat Max Lee 3-2 in a nail biting game. Farhan won the game with scores of 9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9.

However, Farhan Mahboob was comfortable against his opponent Tang Min Hong to win the match comfortably 3-0 with the scores of 11-4, 11-7, 11-4.

This was Pakistan's consecutive 4th and overall 15th Asian team Squash title, which is also the most by any team.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's Media: #GEO TV and #ARY News face off @AJEnglish

Munizae Jahangir: " The Geo-ARY debacle was perceived to be a proxy war between the establishment and the government of Pakistan."

The case failed to draw that much attention but, as 2016 drew to a close, a court in London convicted the owners of ARY News of slander and libel and awarded $3.7m in damages to the plaintiff, Geo TV.

What set this case apart was the fact that a British court was ruling on a squabble between two of the biggest media players in Pakistan.

The very public battle between Geo TV and ARY has been characterised as a low point for the Pakistani news media.

The TV news sector in Pakistan has exploded in size in the 15 years since the days of only one, state-owned domestic channel. But the quality of the journalism often gives way to sensationalism and irresponsible reporting, and, in this case, reckless accusations of blasphemy.

Some see the conflict between Geo and ARY as a kind proxy war for a larger struggle, involving the Pakistani powers that be - over who really controls the country.

The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi reports on a slightly complicated media story that reveals much about politics and power in Pakistan.

"The competition was rooted in how well the channels themselves were performing ... but over time, it morphed into something way more ugly, way more public," says Sadaf Khan, director of programmes, Media Matters for Democracy.

April 2014 marked a turning point in the competition between the two channels.

An attempt on the life of Geo News' most prominent anchor, Hamid Mir, put the journalist and his channel on a collision course with the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI. Mir had reported extensively on the agency and said he was convinced it was behind the attack.

This wasn't the first time the ISI was accused of targeting a journalist.

In 2011, investigative reporter Saleem Shahzad was kidnapped and then found dead in northeast Pakistan. Shahzad had documented three warnings from the ISI, letting him know his work had put him on their radar.

Now, three years later, the Mir case put the lingering issue of alleged rogue operations of the ISI back in the headlines, and ARY waded into the debate.

When ARY backed the ISI, it ostensibly aligned itself with the intelligence community and the military - the Pakistani establishment.

Geo, on the other hand, was seen to be allied with the elected government.

READ MORE: Pakistan's Geo News channel taken off air

"The Geo-ARY debacle was perceived to be a proxy war between the establishment and the government of Pakistan," explains Munizae Jahangir, senior anchor and executive producer, AAJ Television.

ARY News made it personal by accusing Geo TV owner Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman of taking money from Indian intelligence and using it to defame and discredit Pakistan.

Such accusations can get you killed in Pakistan.

"One of the main allegations was that we had run this campaign for peace between India and Pakistan, which was a media-led campaign - The Times of India, and The Jang Group had come together. This was completely an initiative that was funded entirely by ourselves - we had absolutely no funding from any international organisation, let alone intelligence agencies, and, and yet, continuously, documents were waved on the screen," says Geo TV president Imran Aslam.

"The editorial stance taken by our channels on various issues are different ... However, if you work on the behest of any government or you ally yourself with a government, then your journalism is flawed and the Jang and Geo group's output are perfect examples of this," says ARY News host Arshad Sharif.

Riaz Haq said...

Amir Khan supports Pakistani boxers in upcoming Asian Games

Pakistani origin British boxer Amir Khan has shown his support to Pakistani boxers who will be taking part in the upcoming Asian Games.

In a video message, the boxer said he was happy that the boxing federation was doing a lot to promote the sport in Pakistan and that those boxers are more than welcome to train and practice at the academy he has set up in Lahore.

Khan also added young boxers should work hard and get down in the ring with a mind to win.

Pakistani boxers will be taking part in in the Asian Games starting from August 18 in Indonesia.

In an earlier message on Thursday, the boxer had thanked his Pakistani fans for his recent victory over Canada’s Phil Lo Greco.

Khan who had launched a boxing academy in Lahore two years ago said it was time to introduce a boxing super league in the country.

He also added that he will be visiting Pakistan in a couple of weeks to make an announcement related to the league.