Islamabad, Jun 1 (PTI) A leading private TV channel in Pakistan has said that its team of experts will check the contents of a speech by veteran journalist Hamid Mir, who was stopped from hosting a popular talk show, against the country's powerful 'establishment' following an attack on a fellow scribe.
Mir delivered a fiery speech at a protest staged by the journalists against an attack by three 'unknown' persons on journalist Asad Toor on Friday in Islamabad.
He demanded accountability in the attack which was a series of such assaults on media persons who are critical of the country's military.
Mir, hosting prime time Capital Talk show on Geo TV, was sent on leave on Monday by the TV network which claimed that he was still part of the news channel.
The channel came up with a statement after it faced severe backlash on social media for stopping Mir from hosting the talk show.
'The editorial committee and lawyers will check for violation of policy and law. Meanwhile, ‘Capital Talk’ will be hosted by a temporary host,' it said, adding that the speech made by Mir over the weekend “has resulted in backlash from different segments of society'.
The channel also said that it had faced problems in the past for standing up to the right of freedom of speech.
'We would like to remind our viewers and readers that Geo and Jang Group were shut down, our journalists were beaten up as they faced hundreds of fake allegations of corruption, blasphemy and traitorhood, shot at, financially strangulated more than any other media organisation in the country,” it said.
The group said that it has lost more than Rs 10 billion to keep viewers and readers informed but added that it was difficult to own the contents of a speech made out of its editorial control.
'It becomes difficult for the group and its editors to take ownership of the content that is delivered outside the purview, input and guidance of its editors, and which are not fact-checked and approved by the editorial teams,' the statement said.
The channel said that disappointment felt by Mir and other journalists was a 'shared and grave concern” but “better ways exist on how to channel that energy for productive gains for the safety of journalism and journalists'.
It said that many journalists lose their lives and their liberty in Pakistan while their fight for the right of the public to know continues. It lashed at the government which has failed to protect journalists.
Mir made scathing remarks against the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan without naming it after journalist Toor was beaten by three unknown attackers in his Islamabad flat on Friday.
However, Mir vowed to fight irrespective of the 'consequences'.
'Nothing new for me. I was banned twice in the past. Lost jobs twice. Survived assassination attempts but cannot stop raising voice for the rights given in the Constitution. This time I’m ready for any consequences and ready to go at any extent because they are threatening my family,' he tweeted.
Reacting to the development, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that private channels were free to hire and fire their employees.
“I have never been on his (Mir) show for more than 10 years and I don’t know about Geo’s decision,” he said.
Earlier, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that the government had nothing to do with the internal decisions of broadcasting organisations.
'Broadcasters themselves decide which programme they have to broadcast and what its team will be,' said Chaudhry. PTI SH RS AKJ RS