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Pakistan's Defense Ministry Seeks TV Station Shutdown

Pakistan's Defense Ministry is calling for the shutdown of a leading Pakistani television station, accusing it of broadcasting "false" and "scandalous" reports.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says the ministry has filed a complaint against Geo Television with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on its coverage of the assassination attempt on Geo anchor Hamid Mir.

Mir was shot and wounded by assailants on motorcycles April 19 while he traveled by car in Karachi. No one has claimed responsibility for the shooting. It was not the first attempt against the journalist. Last year a bomb was found attached to Mir's car.

Geo has aired reports accusing Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of being behind last week's attack.

In the complaint posted on CPJ's website (https://www.cpj.org/pakistan_isi_geo-20140422.pdf), the defense ministry accuses GEO's parent company, Independent Media Corporation of launching a "vicious campaign" that includes "false accusations" linking the intelligence agency with "terrorist outfits/activities."

The ministry calls on PEMRA to cancel Independent Media Corporation's license.

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday urged PEMRA not to act on what it called the "spurious" complaint. CPJ Asia Program Director Bob Dietz said "the ISI is free to rebut allegations in the media but should not try to censor coverage."

A PEMRA official, who did not want to be named, told VOA's Urdu Service that the nature of the charges against Geo are serious but that the media outlet will be given full opportunity to offer an explanation.

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