Hamid Mir, host of the widely watched talk show Capital talk, has been sent to an “indefinite leave” by his employer Geo TV after his recent criticism of the Pakistani Army in reaction to the attacks on journalists in the country.
According to the Geo news administration Hamid Mir has been sent on a leave and he will not host the show on Monday.
According to the Independent Urdu Hamid Mir has also confirmed his show going off air.
Hamid Mir was in headlines for the last many days after journalist Asad Toor was attacked allegedly by the Pakistani secret services. In a protest against the incident, Hamid Mir had criticised Pakistan’s military intelligence of being involved in attacks against journalists.
He said “if journalists are attacked in our homes we can not attack back but we will expose the truth of your homes.”
Hamid Mir’s, ‘Capital Talk’ is one of the top Talk shows on Geo TV and it has been running since 2002.
Amnesty International South Asia has criticised the decision of taking Hamid Mir off air on their Twitter account and said “the punitive action of taking @HamidMirPAK off the air following a speech at a protest calling for accountability for an attack on @AsadAToor, severely undermines the responsibility media outlets and authorities have to protect free speech in an already repressive environment Censorship, harassment and physical violence must not be the price journalists pay to do their jobs.”
Human rights commission of Pakistan also criticised the decision to take off Hamid Mir from his show and said “HRCP strongly condemns the decision to take @HamidMirPAK off the air three days after he spoke fervidly against the escalation in curbs on press freedom. He must be allowed to resume his professional duties immediately and the threats against him investigated.”
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists condemned the decision of banning Hamid Mir and tweeted “PFUJ Condemns TV Channel for Banning Senior Anchorperson Hamid Mir”
Sardar Akhter Mengal Head of Balochistan National Party – Mengal in a solidarity tweet said “Hamid Mir is a journalist who has selflessly stood by the oppressed of this country. This is the time to speak up for him. You are not alone.”
Pakistan has been a deadly place for journalists for a long time. There were 148 documented cases of attacks and violations against journalists in Pakistan from May 2020 to April 2021. Alongside of these deadly attacks and violence journalists also faces censorship from state forces and media houses. Pakistan has also ranked ninth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Global Impunity Index which assesses countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free. Even though the Pakistani government says it supports freedom of speech, rights activists say that the Pakistani military – the de facto rulers of the country – attacks and harasses journalists. The CPJ said that Pakistan is lagged behind India, Bangladesh and even Russia in its ability to protect independent journalism.