Pakistani TV news anchor vows to investigate attempt on his life
Hamid Mir is recovering in hospital after being wounded by gunmen in Karachi
Pakistan's military is pushing to shut down his employer, broadcaster Geo News
Mir believes Pakistan's spy agency may have targeted him
Pakistani news anchor Hamid Mir had been threatened by “both state and non-state actors” before he was attacked by gunmen, the journalist said in a statement read by his brother outside the Karachi hospital where he was recovering Thursday.
Officials from Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, ISI, approached Mir several days before the shooting and told him he was on a hit list along with other journalists, his brother said. According Mir’s statement, the officials didn’t say who drew up the list.
Mir thanked the Pakistani public for their prayers and vowed to unearth further details about those he believed were behind the attack.
“I will fight until my last drop of blood and last breath to continue the fight to strengthen Pakistan, to ensure the freedom of the press, bring a voice to the smaller provinces of the country and uphold democracy,” his statement said.
Shot three times
The prominent columnist and political talk show host was shot three times by gunmen in a car and on two motorcycles in Karachi on April 19, his network Geo News– a CNN affiliate– reported. The bullets struck Mir in the intestines, leg and pelvis, according to police. He is now recovering after undergoing what his doctor described as a successful operation.
His brother, Amir – also a journalist – said Hamid Mir believed ISI and its leader, Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam had plans to assassinate him, but the Pakistani military’s public relations agency has dismissed the allegations, saying that “raising allegations against ISI or the head of ISI without any basis is highly regrettable and misleading.”
Since the attack, Pakistan’s military has pushed for media regulators to suspend or even revoke the license of Mir’s network Geo News over its coverage of the incident, filing a complaint with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.
Reports surfaced Wednesday that the network was unavailable in large areas of Peshawar, parts of Quetta and in military barracks in both cities. On its website, Geo News reported similar blackouts in Okara, Murree and Dera Ghazi Khan as well.
Mir condemned the move against the broadcaster.
The shooting was not the first attempt on Mir’s life. In November 2012, a bomb was found under his car but the culprits were never found. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Militant organizations – like the Taliban, have threatened journalists in the past for coverage that they view as unfavorable.
A former newspaper reporter and editor, Mir writes columns and hosts a political talk show on Geo News. His guests have included members of Pakistan’s ruling government and the opposition. Mir is also writing a book on Osama bin Laden, the late al Qaeda leader who escape from the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan he extensively reported on.
Two Pakistani governments – once in 2007 and again in 2008 – banned him from appearing on Pakistani television.
CNN’s Pierre Meilhan and Greg Botelho and journalists Syed Ali Shah and Zahir Shah Sherazi contributed to this report.