Pakistan clerics threaten to cut ``obscene'' cable tv
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - An alliance of Pakistani fundamentalist Islamic groups Wednesday gave the military-led government until Sunday to ban cable television in the northwestern city of Peshawar or they would cut the cables.
``We warn the administration to ban forthwith all the cable networks in Peshawar or we will do it by force,'' Maulana Abdul Malik, head of the newly formed Islami Muttahida Inqilabi Mahaz (United Islamic Revolutionary Front), told a news conference.
``These cable neworks spread obscenity in our society,'' said Malik, whose alliance groups 23 religious organizations, including the major Islamic parties Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam.
The threat came four days after military ruler General Pervez Musharraf issued a decree reviving Islamic provisions of the country's suspended constitution and two weeks after the North West Frontier province's Peshawar High Court overturned an earlier ban on six cable networks in the city.
Provincial governor Mohammad Shafiq on June 21 announced a province-wide ban on cable television, which is allowed in the rest of the country, but later retracted his order saying it applied only to networks operating without government permission.
``We do not accept the (high) court verdict, it was un-Islamic and unconstitutional,'' Malik said, calling for the dismissal of the judges who had reached it.
The protests against cable television follow several incidents of anti-television action in Pakistan's semi- autonomous tribal regions near the Afghan border by followers of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement which has banned television in the war-ravaged country.
Supporters of the Taleban's vision of creating the world's purest Islamic state are reported to have seized video cassette recorders, television sets and hi-fi equipment, which they see as an affront to conservative Islamic values.
Many Pakistani mullahs say cable and satellite television networks are a threat to local culture and Islamic traditions.
The revival of the Islamic provisions of Pakistan's constitution Saturday was the second time within two months that Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless army coup last October, had bowed to pressure from Islamic clergy.
In May, he withdrew a proposed change in the application of a blasphemy law that human rights groups said was often used to target non-Muslim minorities.
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