ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s media watchdog today formed a three-member panel to review the Defense Ministry’s complaint seeking cancellation of GEO TV’s license for leveling allegations against the ISI over the attempt on the life of leading TV anchor Hamid Mir.
PEMRA officials said the nature of charges against Geo news were serious hence the channel would be given a full opportunity for offering an explanation, Dawn News reported.
The complaint was submitted to the media regulator under Sections 33 and 36 of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002 after approval from the Defense Minister Khawaja Asif late last evening after intense deliberations over the matter.
The controversy erupted following the attack on Geo TV’s lead anchor, Mir, on Saturday in Karachi.
Soon after the attack, Mir’s brother came on the channel blaming the “certain elements” in the ISI and its chief of orchestrating the attack.
According to a statement, the Ministry also provided the authority with the relevant evidence suggesting the media group’s involvement in tarnishing the image of the intelligence agency.
“The news channel has breached the code of conduct by accusing Director General (DG) of the ISI Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam of masterminding the attempt on senior journalist Hamid Mir,” the statement said.
It added that action would be taken against the channel’s editorial and management team.
“All those who are involved in the mala fide broadcast, riddled with baseless allegations, will be taken to task,” the statement said. The channel had initially played up the allegations.
The Jang Group, with which the channel is affiliated, in a statement said Mir had sent written and video statements to his colleagues and friends and members of the family where security risks and threats to his life had been clearly identified.
“Some of this material we will share in good time after taking the consent of Hamid Mir now that he is out of danger,” it said.
PEMRA, the complaint said, is called upon to take measures on the regulatory side to “immediately suspend the license and after examining the facts, cancel the license of Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd granted under Section 20 of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002;
“…commence prosecution of the editorial team and management of the Geo under Sections 33 and 36 of PEMRA Ordinance read with all enabling provisions and the PEMRA rules as amended from time to time.”
The rules pertain to preserving the “sovereignty, security and integrity” of the country during transmission by any TV channel that has been awarded license.
The civilian leadership of the Ministry resisted registration of the complaint to the hilt, but the military side prevailed, Dawn reported quoting sources.-PTI