Islamabad, Pakistan – Prominent Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir was taken off the air just days after he spoke out against the country’s military in a protest against the attack on another journalist.
Mir told Al Jazeera that he was informed that he would not be hosting “Capital Talk” on Geo News from Monday night.
“I was just told by the Geo management that I wasn’t going to host the show,” Mir said.
“They say there is a lot of pressure [after the statements at the protest last week]. They did not say who it was from. ”
To determine a reason for the move, Al Jazeera’s Geo News manager confirmed that Mir was taken off the air and will not host the show.
Announced sources told Al Jazeera that Geo News was “under pressure to fire [Mir]”.
Last week, Pakistani independent journalist Asad Ali Toor, known for his critical coverage of the country’s government and military attacked at his house in Islamabad by three unknown men, who beat him and warned him about his work.
In his protest speech against the Islamabad attacks on Friday, Mir threatened to identify those responsible for some of the attacks on Pakistani journalists. He used several terms implying Pakistan’s military involvement and named Pakistan’s chief of staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“If you break into our houses to attack us, well, we can’t get into your houses because there are tanks and guns, but we can make things public, things from inside your houses,” he said. as Mir in protest, which implies military involvement.
In 2014, Mir survived a shooting by unknown assailants shortly after he hosted an episode of his program focusing on alleged military rights violations in the southwestern province of Balochistan.
“The space is completely shrinking. Honestly, I say it’s over. You are also not allowed to express yourself while you are not on duty,” said Iqbal Khattak, Pakistan Reporters With Border (RSF) representative and head to media rights group Freedom Network, in response to taking Mir off the air.
“I think we have proven right that the state and government are pushing to influence editorial freedom in some media houses.”
Khattak said the threats against journalists specifically targeted those reporting in a critical government and military manner.
“Journalists critical of government policies are under pressure, and those who say ‘everything is fine’, they have no issues with regard to their security and safety.”
Participation in ISI
Toor, who was attacked on Wednesday, told a police report that one of his attackers identified him as a member of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s leading intelligence agency.
On Saturday, the Pakistani government ended the accusation of “a good conspiracy of conspiracy”.
Pakistan’s military has directly ruled the country for nearly half of its 74-year history, and critics say it continues to suppress many aspects of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.
In 2019, a Check out Al Jazeera found that journalists, editors and managers of news organizations across the country reported that their work was censored by the government and military by targeting their news organizations using financial means.
In July 2020, the famous television news host Matiullah Jan abducted from outside the school in Islamabad. Jan recounted that he was blindfolded, tied up, tied up and tortured by unknown assailants for 12 hours in custody.
In April, senior journalist Absar Alam was shot in the abdomen while he was walking in Islamabad. Alam survived the attack, with one attacker seen in security camera footage fleeing the scene.
No arrests in any case.
In January, the BBC was forced to stop broadcasting the daily Urdu news bulletin due to “interference” with its editorial content.
– BBC News Urdu (BCBBCUrdu) January 15, 2021
“The Pakistani media, which has a long tradition of being the most alive, has become a priority target for the country’s“ deep state ”, a euphemism for the military and ISI… and the important level of suppression that they are used by the civilian executive, ”said media rights watchdog RSF.
“The influence of this ‘establishment’ of the military, which cannot stand independent press, has increased even more since Imran Khan became prime minister in July 2018.”
Pakistan is on the ninth committee on the Protection of the Global Impunity Index of Journalists, with at least 15 unsolved murders of journalists.
By 2021, the country will be ranked 145th out of 180 countries in the RSF World Press Freedom Index.
The government has denied involvement in attacks against journalists or censorship of the press, with PM Khan repeatedly reiterating his claim that Pakistan’s media is independent.
Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry did not respond to a request by Al Jazeera for comment, but last week denied there was press censorship in the country while also accusing journalists of carrying out the attacks. attack “to get immigration” to other countries.