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Pak defence ministry moves against Geo TV

April 23, 2014 14:35 IST

Pakistan's defence ministry on Wednesday filed a complaint before the media regulatory authority accusing the Geo News channel of indulging in anti-national activities by smearing the image of intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence.

The complaint, filed before the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, alleges that Geo News channel is involved in anti-Pakistan activities.

The ministry also provided what it claimed to be evidences against the TV channel to PEMRA, Dunya News reported quoting sources.

"The news channel has breached the code of conduct by accusing Director General of ISI Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam of masterminding the attempt on senior journalist Hamid Mir," SAMAA news channel said quoting an official statement.

A known critic of the Taliban and the ISI, Mir was shot at and injured by unidentified gunmen when he was going to the Geo News TV's office last week in Karachi.

It further said "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 the task," the channel reported, citing the statement.

Geo News can go off air if it fails to prove the accusations it leveled against the ISI, it said quoting unidentified analysts.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's media watchdog on Wednesday formed a three-member panel to review the Defence Ministry's complaint seeking cancellation of GEO TV's license for levelling allegations against the ISI over the attempt on the life of leading TV anchor Hamid Mir.

The committee, comprising Syed Ismail Shah, Pervez Rathore and Israr Abbasi, will review the application against GEO and apprise the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority board of the facts surrounding the matter.

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 Defence Minister Khawaja Asif late last evening after intense deliberations over the matter.

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 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 licence and after examining the facts, cancel the licence 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 licence.

The civilian leadership of the ministry resisted registration of the complaint to the hilt, but the military side prevailed, Dawn reported quoting sources.

 

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