News / Asia

    Rights Groups Condemn Pakistan's Geo News Suspension

    FILE - Employees of Pakistan's biggest television station Geo TV attend a protest against the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority after the station's license was suspended, in Karachi, May 22, 2014.
    FILE - Employees of Pakistan's biggest television station Geo TV attend a protest against the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority after the station's license was suspended, in Karachi, May 22, 2014.
    Ayaz Gul
    Rights groups are condemning the move by Pakistan's media regulator to suspend Geo News, the country's largest news channel, due to a dispute involving the nation's powerful spy agency.

    The Committee to Protect Journalists, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders all said the decision undermines press freedoms in Pakistan.

    On Friday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said it was immediately suspending Geo's license for 15 days and fining the company $100,000 for committing "violations."

    The organization says all field officers have been instructed to ensure implementation of its orders.

    PEMRA said if GEO repeats its "violations," it could face proceedings to revoke its broadcasting license.

    The suspension orders were issued in response to a formal petition by the Pakistani defense ministry to cancel the channel’s broadcasting rights for what it alleged a “false and scandalous campaign against the ISI and its officers”.

    GEO off air

    GEO News channel’s transmission went off the air shortly after the official announcement.

    The suspension is the latest challenge for GEO News following an assassination attempt in April against its news anchor, Hamid Mir, the most popular political talk show host in Pakistan.

    Mir is said to have survived six gunshot wounds to the stomach and legs during the attack in the southern port city of Karachi.

    Shortly after the attack, GEO News repeatedly aired accusations by Mir and his family members that the chief of the country’s military spy agency, ISI, planned the attack.

    In a recent interview with VOA, the news anchor, Hamid Mir, defended GEO’s coverage of the attack on him.  
     
    “I informed my management not once but more than once in advance that the elements of one intelligence agency are after my life. I gave them the names in writing and that is why they [GEO News] mentioned the names,” he said.
     
    The broadcaster came under fire from media critics for overstepping journalistic norms and ethics, but they have strongly opposed attempts to shut down Geo News.

    Local and foreign advocates of press freedom insist the Pakistani intelligence agency is free to rebut allegations against it but should not censor media coverage.

    Abid Suleri, a social analyst and the executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute, says “one can say that perhaps any channel while reporting may not be observing some standard operating procedures and might have overstepped their limit, or they might have not followed the journalistic professional ethics."
     
    "But it does not mean that we start shutting down the channels," he added. "So, perhaps we should resist any attempt to shut down any major or minor channel."

    A senior official with the Committee to Protect Journalists, Bob Dietz, told VOA's Deewa Radio the suspension seems to be an overreaction by the government.

    He said the government is taking out a "vendetta" against the broadcaster for the way it handled the Mir shooting.

    “This seems to me to be really punitive and an overreaction on the government’s part," he said. "What we’ve seen is that there’s been a real vendetta taken out against the GEO for the way it handled the attack on Hamid Mir and this is the official extension of all those other activities that we’ve seen in Pakistan over the last month or two.  It’s not a good indicator of who’s controlling the media in Pakistan.”

    The military denies allegations that the ISI had anything to do with the assassination attempt on Mir. There have been accusations against the spy agency that it was behind some of the attacks on journalists in Pakistan.  

    Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the private Pakistani broadcaster says it is suing the intelligence agency together with two other state-affiliated institutions for “maligning” GEO and accusing it of have an “anti-Pakistan” agenda.

    In its legal notice sent to the ISI, the broadcaster said the three government agencies made "baseless allegations" that have resulted in the broadcasters' staff members being "attacked and tortured across Pakistan."

    Geo has demanded a public apology within two weeks and $500 million in damages. It alleges that thousands of its workers “are not only being harassed but also attacked and tortured across Pakistan.”

    Some information for this report comes from AP, and AFP.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.