Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) late on Wednesday (April 23, 2014) served a show-cause notice on the administration of Geo News for allegedly bringing the country’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence into disrepute and harming national interest.
The regulatory authority’s show-cause notice read that why Geo News’s licence could not be suspended or revoked or fined. It has, however, demanded the news channel’s administration to respond to the notice within 14 days.
Geo News will need to reply by May 6.
Earlier, the government submitted April 22, 2014, (Tuesday) application with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) seeking action against Geo New channel for what it claims defaming state institutions like the Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the military.
The application’s submission follows “complaint” from the military-led ISI lodged with the Defence Ministry, which submitted the application with the regulatory authority under Sections 33 and 36 of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002 after approval from Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif.
Geo News says the claim by the journalist’s family that the ISI chief “masterminded” the attack on Hamid Mir “does not reflect” the channel’s policy.
The application sought legal action against the channel management for framing allegations against the ISI and DG Lt.-Gen. Zaheerul Islam.
The defence Ministry issued a statement saying that it also provided the authority with the relevant evidence to prove 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 (DG) of the ISI, Lt.-Gen. Zaheerul Islam, of masterminding the attempt on senior journalist Hamid Mir,” the statement, published in the national newspapers on April 23, 2014, said.
According to the statement, the Defence Ministry recommended that action should 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.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, meanwhile, declared the recent murder attempt on Hamid Mir a tragedy not only for the channel and family, but also for journalists and the entire nation.
However, he “took exception” to the way the issue of the murder attempt on Hamid Mir had been used as a springboard to malign national institutions without concrete evidence, The News reported. He pointed out that there was no justification for the allegations when the government had already set up a three-member judicial commission.
Meanwhile, Nisar remarked that there was no precedent in any country of the way important defence institutions were criticized and targeted and allegations levelled against them. “The propaganda against the institutions by some particular circles was exploited and propagated by the enemies the world over,” he noted.
The interior minister said when officers and jawans of the defence forces were sacrificing their lives and shedding blood for Pakistan, this one-sided and negative propaganda was not only a matter of concern, but also condemnable. “When the government has established a judicial commission what’s the purpose of such allegations is,” he asked.
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