KARACHI: Senior journalist Hamid Mir, who was wounded after being targeted in Karachi, still holds the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) responsible for orchestrating the attack.
RAWALPINDI – A ban has been imposed on a private media group including its television channels at all offices of the Pakistan Army with immediate effect, a private ARY News channel reported on Wednesday.
The channel reported that there will be a blanket ban on the newspapers of the Independent Media Corporation, which owns the Jang Group of Newspapers and the Geo TV network, at all army offices, mess and units.
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.
Roots of Impunity
1. The Murder of Wali Khan Babar
On January 13, 2011, Wali Khan Babar, a 28-year-old correspondent for Geo TV, was driving home after covering another day of gang violence in Karachi. Babar was an unusual face on the airwaves: Popular and handsome, he was a Pashtun from Zhob in Baluchistan near the border with Afghanistan. For Geo, it was a rare boon to have a Pashtun in Karachi, and so the station planned to send him abroad for training to become an anchor.
Pashtuns, represented by the Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party, and Muhajirs, represented by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, have been enmeshed in violent attacks and counterattacks at a level not seen since the 1990s, and Babar was passionate about covering and stopping them. For a time, he was able to mingle easily among the competing forces. He reported on clashes, extortion, drug dealing, and land grabbing. He knew he was in treacherous water, but he was optimistic and, as he told one of his colleagues, he thought he could forge a truce between the ANP and MQM. But lately he was nervous. He told his boss that the MQM was after him. He told a Pashtun colleague that he thought people were following him home and watching his movements. “I get phone calls every day with threats,” said a Geo supervisor, “and unfortunately we didn’t realize the gravity of why he was saying that.”
The day before, on January 12, 2011, Mohammad Shahrukh Khan, aka Mani, was ordered to follow Babar home, but he couldn’t find the reporter. Mani, a young Muhajir and MQM member, had worked in his father’s paan and confectionary shop until he got involved with the MQM’s Faisal Mota, a community organizer and squad leader. Once Mani joined the MQM he did various jobs—selling cigarettes, brokering, election campaigning. On January 13, he got another call from Mota, who told him to go back to Geo offices where another MQM comrade would give him a car to follow Babar.
Mani arrived outside the offices of Geo around Asr, the afternoon prayer. Two MQM guys named Zeeshan and Liaqat were already there and gave him the keys to a silver Suzuki, parked behind Babar’s car. They had put a 50-rupee credit on Mani’s mobile and told him to call when Babar pulled out. Around 8:30 p.m., Babar got in his car and began his drive home. Mani called Zeeshan: “He’s leaving.” He then called his boss, Faisal Mota, who kept him on the phone to narrate the exact route—through the Saddar area, by the lines for cricket, past the post office and the Esso station. And then suddenly there was Zeeshan. Babar was stuck in traffic in Liaquatabad, an exclusively Muhajir neighborhood, with Mani behind him. Zeeshan, wearing a cap, went in front of Mani up to Babar’s car, raised a black pistol, and fired six or seven times through the window. We know all this from Mani’s videotaped confession, which can be found online.
Mani panicked and fled. He called Faisal Mota. What’s going on? By the time he got to Faisal Mota’s house several MQM guys were already there—men with names like Waseem Commando and Shahid Commando. Zeeshan arrived soon after and then Mota walked in. Mota told Mani to relax and say not a word, but Mani left the next day for Lahore, where he stayed for two months. Upon his return to Karachi he went to Mota’s office in Gulshan. By now the police were on to them, and Mota ordered them to head to Hyderabad where Liaqat, another plotter, was in hiding. It was too late. Shortly after they left Mota’s office, Mani and four others saw the police moving in. A firefight broke out. Somehow Mota, the ringleader, got away.
On April 7, 2011, the police held a news conference announcing the arrest of Mani and four others. Twelve days later, stories began appearing in Pakistan Today with details of the murder culled from the suspects’ statements to a Joint Investigation Team. According to the team’s report, Mota had apparently received the assassination order around January 1 from Agha Murtaza, a South Africa-based MQM operative who investigators said has controlled several hit cells for years. Mota had convened a meeting at his house on January 7 and assigned different MQM members to monitor Babar at various locations, including the reporter’s residence and a Peshawari ice cream shop near the reporter’s house.
By Dr Ali Akbar Dhakan
On 2nd April 2010, we listened Geo TV channel Program entitled MERE MUTABIQ. The hosts were M/s Haroon Rashid Saheb, Irfan Saheb, Ansar Abbasi Saheb and Ayaz Amir. Dr Shahid Saheb showed his usual anger against the elected President of of Pakistan and the Co-Chair Person of the biggest Political Party i.e PPP which got majority in national and provincial general elections held in 2008. The President took oath being the Co-Chair person of the biggest political party i.e PPP. The general elections and the new setup of the present government got existence on account of the national reconciliation forgiving and forgetting the past omissions and commissions committed by all the political leaders and bureaucrats in the past. All concerned reconciled and brought in the derailed democratic system in the country after a very long time of 10-11 years. Thus derailed system of government was put on the right track of democracy in the country with a view that the sufferings of poor people of Pakistan can be mitigated but since the very inception of the present setup of government, the media particularly the one channel started a consistent struggle to topple down it on very past flimsy allegations for which Mr.Asif Ali Zardari and some of his partners suffered 11 years imprisonment and other administrative mishaps for about 11 years. Every body knows as to how Dr Shahid was vouchsafed as the MD PTV but he could not prove himself useful, productive and suitable for the post. As soon as the govt knew his unfair attitude and dealings in the PTV, the govt. kicked him and he became the staunch opponent of the PPP govt particularly of Mr.Asif Ali Zardari.The anchor and the hosts during the said discussion they condemned the president and all hosts of the said programme except Ayaz Amir the elected MNA of chakwal, stressed the establishment particularly, the military and other agencies to topple down Mr. Zardari and mid-term election may be announced but Mr. Ayaz Amir who showed his sagacity and sanity in admonishing anchor and other hosts of the program not to be insensible to pass any remark about the forcible or un-constitutional removal of the president of Pakistan Mr. Asif Ali Zardari but suggest and apply the constitutional methods and ways to remove him. He was again of sagacious views that no body should think of un-constitutional way of removal of Mr Zardari but in the eyes of the present constitution, he and the PPP government should be allowed to complete their tenure of five years and another setup of government and the President should be changed through the next general elections in the country so that the plant of democratic system should get firm roots otherwise same un-constitutional and dictatorial system will again devour the national integrity, solidarity and even sovereign status of the country. Mr.Ayaz Amir and the people of the level of his sanity deserve appreciations and the people of such national spirit may pray to almighty God to multiply the number of people possessing the spirit of national sagacity and sanity in our country Pakistan and improve all those who have vested interests and try to derail the system whatever we have got after a heavy toll of sacrifices.