Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the threats received by Hamid Mir, a renowned presenter for Geo TV, on 20 December after he referred to the political role of the army in his evening programme.
“Once again the physical safety of a journalist has been threatened,” the press freedom organization said.
“We hail the courage of Hamid Mir in tackling a subject that is sensitive in Pakistan, namely the army’s intelligence service. We welcome the fact that the country’s highest authorities, through President Asif Ali Zardari and the interior minister, Rehman Malik, have taken the matter seriously and are ensuring the journalist’s safety.”
Mir presents the political talk show Capital Talk, one of the most popular programmes on Pakistani television, five days a week. After a broadcast on the political role of the military, during which allegations of army abuses in Balochistan were discussed, he received insulting and threatening text messages on his cell phone. He has received similar messages in the past, usually from the intelligence services.
According to the journalist, the threats are directly linked to his two latest programmes, which tackled the political role of the director general of the ISI military intelligence service, Ahmad Shuja Pasha. Mir said the country’s security services were behind the threats.
President Zardari has already ordered an investigation. Malik has also condemned them, stating that the government would protect and ensure the safety of Mir and the entire journalistic community.
A parliamentary committee has been formed, chaired by the leader of the opposition, to which the government has promised its full assistance.
Pakistan is the deadliest country in the world for media workers. This year 10 journalists have been killed as a result of their work. The Khuzdar district in the south-west of the country is listed among the most dangerous places for journalists identified by Reporters Without Borders.