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Popular Pakistani talk-show host taken off screen after criticizing military

Prominent Pakistani political TV talk-show host Hamid Mir was suspended from his regular programme on Monday (May 31), his media group Geo News network said, following comments he made last week against the powerful military for its role in media censorship.

A spokesman for Geo did not specify if Mir’s absence was permanent, but his show was hosted by a stand-in anchor on Monday.

Mir, who survived an assassination attempt in 2014, is the latest target of an alleged military backed media crackdown that started in the run-up to 2018 election that brought Prime Minister Imran Khan to power.

Critics say the crackdown is part of a campaign to coerce Khan’s opposition and silence critical voices in the media to prop him up as the military’s protege. Both the military and Khan deny the accusation.

A Geo News TV spokesman told Reuters Mir wouldn’t be hosting his show “for now” starting Monday. Several of the group’s officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the channel was under intense pressure from the military to terminate Mir since his latest criticism.

The military didn’t respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

“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,” said Mir, who hosts one of the country’s highest-rated political talk shows on Geo News, part of the country’s largest media group. “Nothing new for me.”

Over the weekend, Mir criticised the military during a protest rally that was held against last week’s assault on a former TV news producer, Asad Ali Toor, who has been producing video blogs on his YouTube channel, often questioning the army’s role in politics.

(Production: Salah Uddin, Shahabuddin Shahab)

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