The battle between GEO News and Pakistan’s top spy agency continues with a lawsuit from the TV network and a suspension from the spy agency. Reuters reports that Geo News has filed a defamation lawsuit against Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The spy agency accused the TV network of being anti-state after it criticized the military.
Geo News licenses suspended
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has now suspended Geo News’ TV license for 15 more days. The TV network reported that the ISI was to blame for the shooting of one of the most well-known journalists in Pakistan in April. In Pakistan, it is practically forbidden to criticize the ISI or the military.
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Geo News stated in a report in one of the newspapers its parent company owns that it served ISI, PEMRA, and the Ministry of Defense the lawsuit today. The report further states that over 8,000 journalists and others connected to Geo News in some way are being harassed, attacked and even tortured.
The TV network gave the ISI two weeks to pull back its accusations and publicly apologize.
PEMRA suspends Geo News’ broadcasting license
Geo News is one of Pakistan’s most popular TV channels. PEMRA suspended its license today for 15 days and also fined the station 10 million rupees. The regulatory agency ordered the station to pay the fine before the period of suspension is over. If Geo News refuses to pay the fine, regulators said they will continue the suspension of the station’s license. In addition, they said if the station is found to be in violation again, they will begin proceedings to have its broadcasting license revoked.
Most of Geo News’ TV stations throughout Pakistan have been shuttered for the last 45 days. PEMRA initially suspended the network’s license on May 20 and then scheduled a formal hearing later that month. On May 26, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered that Geo News be allowed to go back on the air, but PEMRA refused to put it back on cable networks.
Geo News apologizes
Geo News has since apologized for the claim that the ISI was responsible for the shooting of talk show host and journalist Hamid Mir. The network and its parent company, the Jang Group, officially issued an apology to Pakistan’s military and the ISI for alleging that the agency and its chief lieutenant Gen. Zaheerul Islam were responsible for the shooting. According to One India, Mir himself and his brother were the ones who accused them of the attack. The ISI has denied the accusations.
The Jang Group has said that the ISI has been complaining about a number of its editors and journalists and that it will “prove this and many other things at the proper time.”