An act of desperation

TaqiBy Dr Mohammad Taqi

Hamid Mir’s guardian angel was watching over him perhaps. Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist and media personality, survived despite receiving multiple bullet injuries. He may be out of the woods medically but the violent threat to him and the Pakistani media at large has not dissipated. Mir was not the first journalist to be targeted with such brutal impunity and, unfortunately, will not be the last. Someone in the deep, convoluted bowels of society is getting really, really desperate. It seems like the war for the narrative and on those who may shape it has just entered a new and more deadly phase.
After a similar attack on the journalist Raza Rumi last month, I noted in my column ‘Hooked on jihadism’ (Daily Times, April 3, 2014) that “the Committee to Protect Journalists’ optimism notwithstanding, the Pakistani state is unlikely to kick its jihadist drug habit. The space for those citizens, especially media persons who do not conform, will continue to shrink. Raza Rumi, and others like him, will be left to fend for themselves.” The usual suspects seem gung-ho on either taming or eliminating the dissenting voices. The relentless assault on the media appears to be from both the state and non-state actors or some combination thereof. The attack on Express Television this past January was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan while the one on Raza Rumi has apparently been traced to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi ringleader Malik Ishaq. Many attacks, like the multiple bomb attacks on the residence of the Express Tribune’s Peshawar bureau chief, Jamshed Baghwan, have not been claimed by anyone.
Hamid Mir’s brother, Amir Mir — also a veteran journalist who has written extensively about the military-jihadist nexus — has directly blamed the ISI for the attack on Mir. Amnesty International’s (AI’s) Deputy Asia-Pacific Director David Griffiths has said in an e-mailed statement that, in the past three years, “Mir had on two occasions told the Amnesty International that he believed his life was under threat from different actors, including the ISI and the Pakistani Taliban.” Saying that they do not know who is responsible for the attack, the AI has called for bringing the perpetrators to book “regardless of their affiliations to any state institution, political party or any other group”. The Director General ISPR has since refuted Amir Mir’s allegations and an ISPR press release stated, “An independent inquiry must immediately be carried out to ascertain facts.”

Read more » Daily Times
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/24-Apr-2014/an-act-of-desperation

The Hamid Mir case: ‘In Pakistan, they used to censor journalists – now they shoot us’

Hamid Mir
Hamid Mir

On Saturday in Karachi, one of Pakistan’s most famous journalists survived being shot six times. Soon after, the TV news channel he works for blamed the feared Inter-Services Intelligence agency for the attack. Author Mohammed Hanif reports on a fourth estate under siege

By , The Guardian

More than a hundred bouquets line the lobby of the private ward of Karachi’s posh, private Aga Khan Hospital. Outside, dozens of policemen with bulletproof vests and automatic weapons look at every visitor suspiciously, officers speaking urgently into their walkie-talkies. The Karachi police force is really good at strutting about after a high-profile crime has happened. One of the largest bouquets in the lobby is from the force. “Get well Hamid Mir,” it says. “We may not be able to protect you,” it implies, “but we know where to order the best flowers.”

Mir is upstairs recuperating. He took six bullets – in the ribs, thigh, stomach and across his hand – in an assassination attempt on Saturday as he came out of the airport to present a special broadcast on Geo, Pakistan‘s largest news channel. Mir had warned about a possible assassination. He had also named his would-be killers. That’s what his brother claims, that’s what his colleagues and managers at the channel say. Geo, just after the attack, broadcast the allegation and, in an unprecedented move, also flashed the picture of the accused: the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam. In that picture he comes across as a big man. We are not supposed to know much about him except the fact that he is a very professional general. According to an internet myth very popular in Pakistan, the ISI has been rated as the world’s No 1 intelligence agency: Mossad is No 5 and MI6 languishes at No 9. According to television ratings, the man with three bullets still in his body is Pakistan’s top-rated TV journalist and one of the most vocal critics of Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies.

One of the modest bouquets wishing Mir a full and speedy recovery is from the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, who visited him in the hospital earlier this week after announcing a judicial inquiry. Going by the history of judicial inquiries in Pakistan, Sharif seemed to be saying: “Look Hamid, we want you to get well but don’t really expect us to find out who tried to kill you. Who is going to go and ask a working general? Meanwhile, here are three senior judges who will help you get over the whole thing.”

The day after the assassination attempt, Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif visited the ISI headquarters to show that he stands with his intelligence boss.

And the very next day, the Defence Ministry recommended that the channel for which Mir works should be shut down for bringing a national institution into disrepute. Geo’s competitors have joined the chorus.

For years, Pakistan has been one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. From feudal landlords to Taliban fighters, sectarian groups to separatists, all have killed journalists. The question one needs to ask is: does the ISI, a national body often referred to as “a sensitive institution”, occasionally kill journalists? As any trained journalist would tell you, we need two sources before we can tell you a story. Here are two stories, with multiple sources and two different endings.

Continue reading The Hamid Mir case: ‘In Pakistan, they used to censor journalists – now they shoot us’

Committee to Protect Journalists condemns move by Pakistan’s ISI against Geo TV

 

CPJ condemns move by Pakistan’s ISI against Geo TV

New York, April 22, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is greatly concerned by actions brought by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) against Geo Television today. In its complaint to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, the ISI accused Geo’s parent company, the Independent Media Corporation, of conducting a “false and scandalous campaign undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of state institution (ISI) and its officers.”

The media regulator has the authority to shut down broadcasters based on such complaints, and has done so under previous administrations of Pakistan.

“We call on the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority not to act on this spurious complaint, and we call on Pakistan’s security services to recognize the critical role of the media and exercise tolerance and maturity,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The ISI is free to rebut allegations in the media but should not try to censor coverage.”

Tension between Pakistan’s military and intelligence communities and much of the media swiftly escalated following an assassination attempt on Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir on April 19. Mir was hit with six rounds from assailants on motorcycles as his car was traveling between Karachi’s airport and the center of the city. Mir is severely wounded and recovering in the hospital. Geo TV has broadcast accusations that the ISI was involved in the murder attempt.

Courtesy: The Committee to Protect Journalists
http://cpj.org/2014/04/cpj-condemns-move-by-pakistans-isi-against-geo-tv.php

Pakistan Army Demands Broadcaster’s Closure

Military Lashes Out Against Geo News After TV Channel Airs Accusations Against Spy Agency

By Saeed Shah

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan’s military demanded that the government close down the country’s top-rated TV channel after it aired accusations that the spy agency was behind the shooting of its leading talk-show host.

The demand stems from remarks made by relatives of journalist Hamid Mir that were broadcast by Geo News on Saturday after he was shot six times in the southern city of Karachi.

They blamed the attack on the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, or ISI, and its chief, Lt. Gen. Zaheer-ul-Islam, who they say singled out Mr. Mir for his reports of the spy agency’s role in the country’s politics.

Read more » THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702303825604579517903002721352-lMyQjAxMTA0MDIwMjEyNDIyWj