Washington, D.C., May 31, 2021–In response to the suspension today of Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, host of “Capital Talk” news program, by the Geo News network following Mir’s critical comments about the Pakistan military at a rally on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Forcing a popular news talk show host like Hamid Mir off the air after voicing criticism of Pakistan’s military—and support for a fellow journalist—only underscores the lack of true press freedom in Pakistan,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Critical comments about key state institutions are an important component of democracy, not a scourge to be eliminated.”
Mir’s suspension followed comments about the military at a rally outside the National Press Club in Islamabad in support of journalist Asad Ali Toor, according to news reports, video posted on Twitter, text messages from Mir to CPJ, and a statement issued by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, which was posted on Twitter. Toor was assaulted at his home last week, as CPJ documented.
One day after publication of this statement, the Jang Group, which owns Geo News, issued an explanation for its decision to suspend Mir.
Mir survived an attempt on his life in 2014, when he was hit by six bullets in Karachi, as CPJ reported at the time.
[Editor’s note: The text in the fourth paragraph has been updated with a statement from the Jang Group.]