Pakistan's most prominent TV presenter, who was taken off air by his employer last month after criticizing the military, has offered an apology saying he had no intention to defame anyone.
Hamid Mir tweeted on June 9 that he has apologized over his remarks to a committee of three journalist groups who defended him since he was removed in May as the host of a primetime nightly talk show on Geo News TV.
"I respect the army as a [national] institution," Mir said in a statement issued by the committee.
"My intention was not to cause harm or torment someone," he added. "I apologize from the bottom of my heart for the pain my words have caused."
Mir made the initial comments in a speech during a protest against growing attacks on journalists after one of them, Asad Ali Toor, was beaten inside his home in Islamabad.
In his tweet, he wrote that he didn’t apologize directly to Geo News TV because he did not use the platform when he criticized the military and its intelligence agencies for attacking journalists and curbing press freedoms.
Toor had openly questioned the army’s role 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.
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. Several veteran reporters in the country have left journalism after being threatened.
In an interview with RFE/RL earlier this week, Mir said he was “not going anywhere” despite dangers to his life if he stays in Pakistan
“We [journalists] are hit with bullets but we stay in the country,” he said. “Even then, they label us as traitors, beat us, and break into our houses. It is a reflection of our desperate situation.”