The largest media group under threat
Jang/Geo, Pakistan’s largest media group has in a letter written to the top civil and military leaders, including the army chief and interior and information ministers, alleged that incidents of intimidation of its staff had increased to an alarming level since the April 19 attack on the group’s television anchor Hamid Mir.
The media house urged the civil and military leaders to instruct the relevant police officers all over Pakistan to meet with management of Jang/Geo and discuss security steps which need to be taken immediately.
The copies of letter were also sent to the home secretaries, top police officials and director generals Rangers and Inter Services Public Relations.
In the letter, Geo further said that its employees including female staff, contributors, distributors and editorial writers are being followed, and sent threatening letters. They feel feared of being attacked as been accused of being anti-state and anti-army.
Geo’s Karachi Bureau Chief, who was staying at the AKU folowing the attack on Hamid Mir, was constantly followed and called a “traitor”. When he confronted his follower, he was told ‘It’s our job to keep an eye on you”, the letter said.
Geo cameraman Asif Kabeer who was attacked and severely beaten on April 29 as he was going to cover the Jamat-ud-Dawa and Al-Muhammadia Students rally in support of the Pakistan Army and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Rawalpindi. “They called him an Indian agent and threatened to kill him.” In another incident, the residence of the investigative reporter of The News, Imdad Soomro, was attacked and burnt on April 30 in Sehwan, Sindh.
The group chief executive’s car was also attacked when he visited his lawyer. As he entered the office of his lawyer, some people on motorcycles tried to smash the car window with iron bars and stones and sped away.
One of the editorial writer of a newspaper of same media group “The News” received a phone call at 4 am on April 30 in Islamabad; he was told to stop writing for “The News” and threatened with dire consequences if he didn’t stop. He also found an envelope slipped under the door containing the same threat. The same letter was delivered to his Karachi residence as well.
A large number of Jang Group newspaper hawkers have been denied access to many localities and have been told not to carry and deliver Jang or The News. Similarly, many newspaper agents in Sindh and Punjab provinces have received telephone calls ordering them to stop selling ‘Ghaddar’ (traitor) newspapers, the letter said.
On April 30, the Geo office in Islamabad was surrounded by an unruly mob. They chanted slogans accusing the channel of being anti-state. Some of the people were seen carrying petrol bottles. The slogans rose as the channel is anti-state, anti-army, traitors and Wajibul Qatal (liable to be killed) while the police stood by and took no action.
Pakistan Press Foundation