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Prominent Pakistani Journalist Says Banned From TV After Speech Criticizing Military

Pakistani journalist and TV presenter Hamid Mir.
Pakistani journalist and TV presenter Hamid Mir.

Hamid Mir, Pakistan's most prominent TV presenter, says he has been banned from his primetime nightly talk show after he made an emotional speech critical of the military.

The veteran journalist broke news of the ban on Twitter on May 31, two days after he criticized the country's military and its intelligence agencies for attacking journalists and curbing press freedoms after a prominent journalist, Asad Ali Toor, was beaten inside his home last week.

"Nothing new for me. I was banned twice in the past. Lost jobs twice. Survived assassination attempts but cannot stop raising voice for the rights given in the constitution. This time I'm ready for any consequences and ready to go at any extent because they are threatening my family," he said in a tweet.

Pakistani Journalists Protest Beating Of Blogger
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Steven Butler, Asia program coordinator at the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said that Toor's suspension "only underscores the lack of true press freedom in Pakistan."

The independent media has suffered a spate of blows in Pakistan.

Several veteran reporters in the country have left journalism after being threatened. The private Geo TV was forced off the air, and authorities have disrupted the distribution of Dawn, Pakistan's oldest English-language newspaper. Leading columnists have complained that stories deemed critical of the army are being rejected by outlets under pressure from the military.

Toor says he was home in Islamabad last week when three people broke into his apartment, gagged him, tied his hands and feet, and beat him with a pistol.

Federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

In April in Islamabad, a gunman shot and wounded Absar Alam, another prominent media voice known for his critical views of the government and the military's meddling in politics.

Criticism of the army has long been seen as a red line for the media, with journalists and bloggers complaining of intimidation tactics including kidnappings, beatings, and even killings if they cross that line.

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