After the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general threatened legal action against Geo TV for maligning the ISI, the defence ministry filed an application to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) demanding suspension of the licence to the company, Independent Media Corporation which runs Geo.
In the application, the defence ministry called for action under the PEMRA Ordinance and the Rules for “false and scandalous campaign undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of State institution (ISI) and its officers.”
PEMRA has appointed a three -member committee to review the application which met today. The committee will give the news channel a chance to present its views before taking a decision, news reports said.
The application said that immediately after the firing on Geo anchor Hamid Mir last Saturday, “a vicious campaign, libellous and scandalous in nature was started initially on GEO News channel wherein false accusations were made against a State institution tasked to work for the defence, sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan i.e., Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and its DG Lt. Gen Muhammad Zaheer ul Islam.”
It pointed out that, “The telecast in question was aimed at undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of State institution and its officers and falsely linking it with the terrorist outfits/ activities. The attempt was detrimental to the interest of the institution and the country.” It also raised the point that the footage was picked up by the foreign media particularly Indian channels who instead of objectively reporting the incident overplayed it repeatedly, the complaint said. The entire electronic media covered the said incident as ‘Breaking News’ as well as in ‘News Bulletins’ and tickers. Such reporting has violated the specific reforms and conditions of its licence, the application said and added that that this cannot be viewed as a single event. Geo Network has a history of acting illegally in furtherance of the anti-Pakistan agenda. If required, material can be provided to the regulator, it pointed out.
The application also castigated the “inability of the editorial team and management or monitoring staff at Geo to either control the content and deliberately allowed scandalous views to go on air. This constitutes breach of terms of its licence and violating code of conduct.”
It also listed out the specific violations of the PEMRA rules and code of and called on the regulatory authority to immediately suspend the licence and after examining the facts cancel the license of Independent Media Corporation granted under Section 20 of the PEMRA Ordinance, 2002 and prosecute the editorial team and management of Geo under Section 33 and 38 of the PEMRA Ordinance.
On Tuesday interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan deplored the unfounded allegations against state institutions in the wake of the attack on Geo TV journalist Hamid Mir. He said such undue criticism of a defence institution would give the enemy leeway to exploit the situation.
Reacting after a few days, in a statement on Tuesday, he condemned the attack on Mr. Mir and said that it was unfortunate that there were allegations against the state institutions without any evidence. Mr. Mir’s brother Amir, also a journalist, had named the ISI and specifically the head of ISI as the person responsible for the murderous attack in Karachi last Saturday. Chaudhry Nisar said there is no precedent of attacking the country’s institutions anywhere in the world in this fashion. He also regretted the one sided propaganda against the institution.