ISLAMABAD—Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has strongly condemned Geo News for banning anchor Hamid Mir from conducting his popular show Capital Talk.
In a statement issued on Monday, union President Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi said: “Geo management should let the journalist fraternity know what prompted them to take this decision within the 72 hours of Mir’s speech in front of the National Press Club on Friday where he condemned non-democratic forces for attacks on media persons and Asad Toor.”
The two leaders said that after the speech, it was feared the government and the establishment would employ pressure tactics on Geo. “We would like to know if it was the result of pressure from the government and the establishment or Geo has taken this decision on its own. In either case, it is highly condemnable and would be resisted fiercely.”
Such ban flies in the face of the government’s claim of protecting freedom of press and freedom of expression, the union said. It noted that on the one hand the government introduces journalists’ protection bill, and on the other, it pressures media groups into banning journalists.
They accused the government of resorting to sledgehammer tactics to stifle the dissenting voices and muzzling the media. “First journalists are attacked and when media persons protest against such attacks, the government employs fascist tactics to silence them.”
PFUJ said that Hamid was a well-respected journalist with years of experience in the field. “He is Pakistan’s most popular anchor with millions of viewers. Banning him from conducting the program is not an attack on a single journalist, but it is an attack on the freedom of expression and freedom of the press. We will fiercely resist such attacks on media and protest against this ban.”
Zulfiqar and Zaidi made it clear that the journalist fraternity would not stay silent over such fascist pressure tactics of the government. “We also want to make it clear to the Geo management that if it does not restore Mir’s talk show, the journalist fraternity will hold demonstrations in front of Geo and Jang offices across the country.”
The union leaders appealed to the Supreme Court to take notice of this ban which is against the provisions of the constitution that guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
They also appealed to the parliament, politicians, and civil society to show solidarity with the media persons in their struggle against the non-democratic attitude of the government.