Pakistan Army behind blackout of Rajnath Singh’s speech during SAARC meet: Report
It was actually Pakistan Army that took the lead in convincing Pakistani media not to telecast events at the SAARC meet live or to play them up.
According to a report published in Hindustan Times, it was Pakistani military's public relations arm that advised local media to blackout the live coverage of the event including Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s speech.
It was confirmed to HT by Pakistani journalists and editors.
The report points out that both the civilian government and the Pakistani Army were on the same page as far the handling of the SAARC event was concerned.
In fact, it was Pakistan Army that advised civilian government against cancelling the event at the last minute. However, both sides decided to downplay the visit of Rajnath Singh that resulted in the blackout of his speech.
The report, quoting a Pakistani journalist, reveals that both the Nawaz Sharif government and the Pakistani Army were worried over the public agitation of the religious parties in protest against Rajnath Singh’s visit.
"In such a situation, if the religious parties had started a public agitation which resulted in violence and deaths, the situation could have turned precarious for the government," HT quoted analyst Ali Zaidi as saying.
Instead of cancelling the SAARC meet, the Pakistani leadership decided to downplay it for the domestic audience.
"That is why we saw the blacking out of coverage of the event on national channels as well as the downplaying on most media," journalist Tahir Najmi told HT.