Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf phoned in live during a programme on Geo TV and condemned the police attack on the private television station's office on Friday and apologised for the police action.

"I condemn it in the strongest terms. It should not have happened, and I would like to apologise for it," Gen. Musharraf said. He said his Government had always stood for the freedom of speech and expression. "This is a sabotage of everything we stand for, whatever we are doing."

The President said "the culprits must be identified and punished tonight" and he would be "personally involved" to ensure of this.

Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto also condemned the police action as an attack on the "freedom of the media".

"Every institution in the country has been targeted Parliament, the judiciary and now the press," she said, speaking on the same programme a few minutes after Gen. Musharraf.

Pakistan Muslim league leader Nawaz Sharif also condemned the incident from London.

Earlier, Geo TV said it had received notice from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to pull one of its news analysis talk shows.