UK rally backs Hamid Mir, warns against ban on Geo
LONDON: Pakistanis in Britain have called on the government of Pakistan to ensure that Hamid Mir gets justice through a thorough and completely transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding a well-planned gun attack aimed at ending his life in Karachi a week ago.
At a large rally held outside Pakistan High Commission here, British Pakistanis from all walks of life expressed solidarity with the senior Geo TV anchor and expressed shock at the brazen attack on the country’s highest profile anchor. Around 200 demonstrators attended the solidarity rally organized by Pakistani community members and journalist unions. The demonstrators came from all over the United Kingdom on a day’s notice and chanted slogans in favour of Hamid Mir and a bid to ban Geo/Jang for two hours.
Those who attended the protest included men and women of all ages, representatives of PML-N, APML, PPP, PTI, PAT, UKPNP, ANP, PWT and many other organizations. Britian’s largest media union National Union of Journalists, in conjunction with Pakistan Journalists Association (PJA) and Pakistan Press Club (PPC), also supported the solidarity call.
The demonstrators demanded arrest of assailants of Hamid Mir besides making the investigation process transparent and trustworthy. They called on the judicial commission set up the by the government to go to every extent to find why Hamid Mir has been constantly threatened and why the successive governments have failed to bring the suspects to justice.
The demonstrators carried placards and raised slogans against the assault on Hamid Mir, terming it an attack on the free press of Pakistan. The placards read, “we condemn attack on Hamid Mir”, “Before the 6 bullets he spoke the truth, after 6 bullets he still speaks the truth”, “Bullets cannot silence media – bullets cannot silence truth”, “Hamid Mir – patriotic Pakistani”, “we support freedom of speech”, and “Let truth prevail”.
The demonstrators said that the attack on Mir was in fact an assault on the entire media community of Pakistan and it was aimed at silencing the critics who dared to speak the truth and question the powerful forces. They said Hamid Mir was the leading anchor who held the government accountable and that’s why it was utmost important to look into all aspects of this attack. They said that attack on Hamid Mir had sent shock waves across the country and throughout the world.
They said condemnation of the attack had poured in from all over the world and it just showed that Hamid Mir is a towering international figure who is known to everyone who cares about human rights, democracy and freedom of speech. They said that attack on Hamid Mir and other journalists showed that some forces want to silence journalists through use of force and intimidation so that the material that’s aired is only the one that has official approval.
Pakistani community members expressed alarm that the Ministry of Defence had approached Pemra for a ban on Geo and Jang group. They said it was astonishing that the ministry had stooped so low in 21st century. They reminded those want to ban Geo that previously at least two governments did the same but were defeated.
Pakistani community members resolved that a ban on Geo and Jang group would not be tolerated at any level and Europe wide rallies will be held against such a move. They said if Geo is banned then the whole issue will be internationalized and western governments, which provide aid to Pakistan, will be approached to take Pakistani government to task for the draconian ban.
Pakistani journalists said that attack on Hamid Mir had also exposed how media was divided in Pakistan and some anchors were there only to do bidding of the Ministries of Defence and Interior. They said the conduct of many anchors following Hamid Mir attack has been utterly despicable. They called on Pemra to also take notice of those channels and anchors that have been inciting violence against media persons for several months.