NEW YORK: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is greatly concerned over actions brought by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate against Geo Television.
In its complaint to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), the ISI accused Geo’s parent company, the Independent Media Corporation, of conducting a “false and scandalous campaign undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of state institution (ISI) and its officers.”
The media regulator has the authority to shut down broadcasters based on such complaints, and has done so under previous administrations in Pakistan.
“We call on the Pemra not to act on this spurious complaint, and we call on Pakistan’s security services to recognise the critical role of the media and exercise tolerance and maturity,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator. “The ISI is free to rebut allegations in the media but should not try to censor coverage.”
Tension between Pakistan’s military and intelligence communities and much of the media swiftly escalated following an assassination attempt on Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir on April 19. Mir was hit with six rounds from assailants on motorcycles as his car was travelling between Karachi’s airport and the centre of the city. Mir was severely wounded and is recovering in the hospital. Geo TV has broadcast accusations that the ISI was involved in the murder attempt.