June 1st, 2021
In a strongly worded press release put out yesterday, on May 31, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has condemned the “imposition of restrictions and attempts to curtail freedom of expression and digital rights of citizens by taking off air the talk show, Capital Talk of the famous news anchor Hamid Mir.”
The presser issued by Khushdil Khan, vice chairman of the PBC, and Muhammad Faheem Wali, chairman of the executive committee of the PBC has re-iterated the long-held position of the PBC in favor of the freedom of speech of citizens and the rights of media organizations and personnel to operate without the threat of “any direct or indirect intimidation, harassment or aggression.” The presser also asserted that attempts to silence journalists by taking them off the air are in clear violation of the freedom of speech guaranteed to citizens under Article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan.
Ban on Hamid Mir
On Monday, news of senior television anchor and a broadcast journalist being taken off air spread like wildfire on Pakistani social media after Mir confirmed the news. He said that he had been taken off air a private TV channel from a show he had been hosting since years and said he would no longer be hosting the talk show capital talk.
The move ignited an immediate outcry drawing condemnation from lawyers, journalists, rights activists, political and civil society organizations.
Today, the administration of Geo TV issued a statement regarding the matter asserting that Hamid Mir had not been sacked from the channel but was instead being sent on leave and that his show will continue with a “temporary host”. The channel also declared that they had formed a committee comprising of independent experts and lawyers to look into the legality of the matter.
The entire episode started when on May 28 a group of news anchors including Hamid Mir delivered fiery speeches against the country’s powerful establishment at a solidarity protest held outside the Islamabad Press Club.
The protest was held in solidarity with journalist Asad Ali Toor who was attacked and brutally thrashed inside his house by three unknown personnel.