Dispute between top Pakistan TV channel and army cools

Apology from Pakistan's top TV channel could lead to end of dispute with country's army

Dispute between top Pakistan TV channel and army cools

World Bulletin/News Desk

The ice seems to be melting between Pakistan's powerful army and the country's top television channel, with a month-long dispute appearing to draw to closer to an end on Tuesday.

Geo TV apologized for blaming the country's top intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), of involvement in the shooting of its prominent journalist Hamid Mir on April 19. The accusations had drawn a sharp response from Pakistan's government, army and much of its public, and led to threats of the channel's license being withdrawn.

Geo TV published a quarter-page advertisment on its website and affiliated newspapers expressing its unconditional apology for its coverage after the attack on Mir, who is the last journalist to have interviewed slain Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2002.

According to Geo TV, shortly before the attack Mir had informed the channel management that if he was ever attacked, the powerful ISI spy agency and its chief Lt General Zaheer-ul-Islam would be responsible. A similar statement was also submitted to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international organization that works for safety of journalists across the world.

Mir had reportedly been receiving threats from the secret services for raising the issue of hundreds of missing persons from violent-hit southwestern Balochistan, who are in alleged custody of secret agencies.

“After serious introspection, editorial debates, feedback, and engagement with all parties, directly, and indirectly, we have concluded that our coverage immediately after the tragic and unnerving attack on Hamid Mir on April 19, was excessive, distressful, and emotional," the statement said. "This caused deep hurt to the ISI as an institution, its director general Lt General Zaheer-ul-Islam, members of his family, the rank, and file of the armed forces, and a large number of our viewers.”

“We deeply apologize for hurting them all,” the statement said.

Not only was Geo TV blocked in all but a few areas of Pakistan, but effigies of its owners were publicly burnt and vehicles carrying copies of its affiliated newspapers were attacked and set on fire in the last month.

The anti-Geo campaign, which many believe was launched at the behest of the ISI, has also dvided the journalist community with various TV channels airing news and packages turning public sentiment against Geo.

Various Geo reporters were attacked by angry mobs in different cities, forcing them to hide office cards and logos to conceal their identity.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Pakistan is one of the three most dangerous countries for journalists, with 91 journalists being killed in the last decade.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Mayıs 2014, 13:22