ISLAMABAD - Defence Minister Khawaja Asif Ali has expressed his displeasure over Pemra’s ‘insufficient’ punishment to Geo News and indicated that they (defence ministry) plans to go to the apex court against the TV channel.

In its first ever reaction over Pemra’s decision wherein it declared the private TV channel guilty of misconduct and suspended its licence for 15 days besides imposition of Rs10 million fine, the minister, in a statement issued on Saturday, said he was ‘unhappy’ with the decision of Pemra.

“We reserve the right to take it up at the next appellate level for enhancement of punishment awarded to Geo,” Khawaja said. He added that despite being declared guilty, the action taken against the channel was not stern enough.

Hours before the penalty was announced, Geo said it was suing the ISI for defamation over accusations of being anti-state. Geo News, part of the privately-owned Jang Group, also gave the ISI 14 days to issue a public apology and pay $500 million in damages.

The minister in his statement said that the ISI and the defence ministry were prepared to respond to Geo’s notice and to defend themselves in court. “We are ready and anxiously waiting to reply (to) the (defamation) suit filed by Geo and (are) fully prepared to defend the charges levelled by Geo against the Ministry of Defence and ISI in the court of law.”

The defence ministry with the signatures of the defence minister had filed a complaint with Pemra under Section 33 and 36 of Pemra Ordinance 2002 against Geo News for airing news against DG ISI for his alleged involvement in attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir.

But the minister was silent after lodging the complaint till the day this statement was issued on his behalf. To the surprise of many, the statement of the defence minister was not released from his office or the ministry; rather a brief SMS was released to the media from some high offices of the govt.