Geo News’s Hamid Mir called out the military at a protest against an attack on another journalist last week.
Prominent Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir has been taken off the air just days after he spoke out against the country’s military at a protest against an attack on another journalist.
Mir told Al Jazeera he has been informed he will not be hosting “Capital Talk” on Geo News from Monday evening.
“I’ve only been told by Geo management that I won’t be hosting the show,” Mir said.
“They said there is a lot of pressure [after the statements at the protest last week]. They did not say who it is coming from.”
With specifying a reason for the move, Geo News’s management confirmed to Al Jazeera that Mir had been taken off-air and would not be hosting the show.
Informed sources told Al Jazeera that Geo News had been “pressured to fire [Mir]”.
Last week, independent Pakistani journalist Asad Ali Toor, known for his critical coverage of the country’s government and military, was attacked in his Islamabad home by three unidentified men, who beat him up and warned him about his work.
In his speech at the protest against the attack in Islamabad on Friday, Mir had threatened to identify those responsible for a spate of recent attacks on journalists in Pakistan. He used several terms implying the involvement of the Pakistani military and named Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“If you’re breaking into our homes to assault us, well, we cannot enter your homes as you have tanks and guns, but we can make things public, things from inside your homes,” Mir said at the protest, alluding to the military’s involvement.
In 2014, Mir survived a shooting attack by unidentified attackers shortly after he hosted an episode of his programme that focused on alleged rights violations by the military in the southwestern Balochistan province.
“The space is completely shrinking. In fact, I’d say it is finishing. You are not even allowed to express yourself while you are not on duty,” said Iqbal Khattak, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) representative in Pakistan and head of media rights group Freedom Network, in response to Mir being taken off-air.
“I think we were proven right that the state and the government are putting pressure to influence the editorial independence of certain media houses.”
Khattak said the threats against journalists specifically targeted those who reported in a critical manner on the government and the military.
“Journalists who are critical of the government policies are under pressure, and those who are saying that ‘everything is fine’, they have no issues as far as their security and safety are concerned.”