Skip to main content

Pakistani military pushes to block network of Hamid Mir, anchor shot by attackers

By Greg Botelho and Sophia Saifi, CNN
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
Pakistani journalist and television anchor Hamid Mir in November 2012.
Pakistani journalist and television anchor Hamid Mir in November 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Geo News anchor Hamid Mir was wounded last Saturday by gunmen in Karachi
  • His brother told Geo that Pakistan's spy agency may have targeted Hamid Mir
  • The military asks for Geo to possibly lose its license over this "malicious" report
  • Geo, news media advocates strongly counter this claim

(CNN) -- Pakistan's military is pushing to black out a national news station, calling its citing of a man tying government agents to the attempted assassination of his brother -- a prominent TV news anchor -- "false, malicious and irresponsible reporting."

Already Wednesday night, multiple people said Geo News was suddenly unavailable in large swaths of Peshawar, parts of Quetta and in military barracks in both cities. On its website, Geo News -- a CNN affiliate -- reported similar blackouts in Okara, Murree and Dera Ghazi Khan as well.

And that could be just the beginning.

The director general of ISI, Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, formally complained to the nation's military about Geo's coverage after an attack on one of its anchors, Hamid Mir. The defense ministry then asked the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to act against Geo News, including possibly suspending and ultimately canceling its license to broadcast.

Blast at fruit market in Pakistan
9-month-old fingerprinted and booked

Hamid Mir was shot three times Saturday in Karachi by gunmen in a car and on two motorcycles near Karachi's airport, his network reported. He is now recovering after undergoing what his doctor described as a successful operation.

The government condemned this attack while also sharply criticizing Geo News' subsequent reporting of the account of Mir's brother Amir, who is a journalist himself. Amir Mir said his brother believed ISI and specifically its leader, Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam, had plans to assassinate him.

The defense ministry's complaint -- as cited by the Pakistan Press Foundation -- accuses Geo News of waging "a vicious campaign ... wherein false accusations were made against a state institution tasked to work for the defense, sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan." This telecast tried to tarnish state agency's image by "falsely linking it with ... terrorist outfits/activities," the complaint said.

"(This) false, malicious and irresponsible reporting is a continuation of the policy of Geo Network for maligning the state institutions," added the complaint.

Geo has strongly defended itself against these allegations, in addition to citing other journalists and ordinary Pakistanis who likewise have rallied to its side.

Benjamin Ismail, the head of Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk, said the interview with Hamid Mir's brother "does not constitute an offense" and noted that Pakistani authorities "are perfectly free to address the suspicions against them. His group ranks Pakistan 158th out of 180 countries on its latest World Press Freedom Index.

And Bob Dietz, the Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, urged the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority not to act against Geo News based on what he called "a spurious complaint."

"We call on Pakistan's security services to recognize the critical role of the media and exercise tolerance and maturity," Dietz said in a statement. "The ISI is free to rebut allegations in the media but should not try to censor coverage."

In an earlier statement, Dietz had called the targeting of Mir "an indicator that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has not been able to reverse the country's appalling record of violence against journalists, despite pledges to do so."

A former newspaper reporter and editor, Hamid Mir writes columns and hosts a political talk show on Geo News. His guests have included members of Pakistan's ruling government and the opposition. Mir is also writing a book on Osama bin Laden, the late al Qaeda leader whose escape from the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan he extensively reported on.

Two Pakistani governments -- once in 2007 and again in 2008 -- banned him from appearing on Pakistani television.

READ: 2 UNICEF staffers missing in Pakistan

READ: Attack targets polio workers in Pakistan, kills 11

Journalists Syed Ali Shah in Quetta, Pakistan, and Zahir Shah Sherazi in Peshawar contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Action needs to be taken immediately before affected states potentially collapse, says campaigner Bob Geldof.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Australian PM Tony Abbott vows to "shirt-front" Russia's Putin over the MH17 disaster.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
Serbia and Albania try to play but the major game is called off after a drone flying a political flag enters the stadium.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
George Clooney's new wife, is now Amal Clooney, raising the issue of married names.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1757 GMT (0157 HKT)
The mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane returns to Earth after more than two years in space. But the U.S. Air force isn't saying much.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
Public health experts are asking whether the CDC is getting the wrong message out.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1541 GMT (2341 HKT)
It's no longer necessary to launch your startup in Silicon Valley -- thanks to the internet, you can do it anywhere.
October 8, 2014 -- Updated 0900 GMT (1700 HKT)
From a "democracy wall" to a towering "Umbrella man" statue, see the best art from the massive protests in Hong Kong.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT