Pakistan: talk show host suspended following military pressure
Hamid Mir was taken off air after he gave a speech critical of the Pakistani military at a rally protesting an attack on another journalist.
The NUJ joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in its condemnation of the intimidation of the journalist and urged the authorities to respect freedom of expression.
Hamid Mir hosted Capital Talk, a prime time TV show until Monday 31 May when Geo News suspended him. According to a statement issued by Geo News and Jang group, he was suspended for speaking at the rally, resulting “in a backlash from different segments of society”.
In a tweet, Mir revealed his family is now being threatened. He said despite surviving an assassination attempt, he was shot at in 2014, and losing his job twice he would not be silenced. Hamid Mir is known for being the first Pakistani journalist to interview Osama bin Laden, the founder of the pan-Islamic militant organization al-Qaeda, after the 9/11 attacks.
During a rally organised on Saturday 29 May protesting the attack of journalist, Asad Ali Toor, Hamid Mir delivered a powerful speech implicating the suspected role of the Pakistani military in the attack. Asad Ali Toor, is an Aaj television journalist and vlogger who was attacked in his house on Tuesday 25 May by three gunmen.
According to the IFJ’s South Asia Press Freedom Report 2020- 2021, nine journalists and media workers were murdered and 36 media rights violations were committed in Pakistan from May 2020 to April 2021.
The IFJ said:
“Pressuring a media house to suspend a journalist is a clear attempt from the military to undermine the media’s independence and silence critical voices. The IFJ urges the government to respect the media’s independence and for Geo News to allow Hamid Mir to resume work as the talk show host.”