Geo News threatened with closure after anchor shooting
Rebecca Hawkes | 25-04-2014
Geo News is at risk of being taken off air after it broadcast allegations that Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) was behind the attempted murder of its news anchor Hamid Mir.
Mir was shot in Karachi on 19 April, and remains in hospital. After the shooting, his brother, Amir, accused the ISI of being responsible for the attack in a Geo News television interview. The agency's leader General Zaheerul Islam wanted Mir assassinated, he said.
In response Defence Ministry has accused Geo News of "false, malicious and irresponsible reporting" that is "a continuation of the policy of the Geo Network for maligning state institutions."
Hamid Mir, who presents the programme Capital Talk on Geo News, had previously written about enforced disappearances blamed on the ISI.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has now asked the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) to revoke Geo TV's broadcasting licence.
Pakistan's largest media group, the Jang Group of Publications, owns Geo TV. Its owner, media magnate Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, is known to hold influence over the country's politics, with many of the group's publications and TV channels traditionally being linked to the security establishment.
"The broadcast by Geo News of an interview with the victim's brother does not constitute an offence ... We caution the authorities against taking any action against Geo News or its presenter, Hamid Mir," said Benjamin Ismaïl from Reporters Without Borders.
The attack on Mir came less than a month after gunmen tried to kill a liberal journalist, Raza Rumi.
"The struggle to report independently and objectively will continue," said Nasir Tufail, a senior producer at Geo TV. "What we have achieved is the result of our decades-long battle against suppression, and our longing for freedom."