Truth In and Truth Out

By Sohail Parwazhamid mir

Renowned journalist and TV anchor Hamid Mir was attacked by unknown assailants soon after his reaching Karachi in the morning hours of Saturday. He got two bullets and according to some sources three bullets but luckily escaped death. He was rushed to the hospital where he made an amazing rapid recovery after an emergency surgery. Hamid Mir is a good journalist friend and we worked together for some time in daily Ausaf, long ago. Mir is known as a blunt correspondent for all along his career however as everyone would have his or her professional rivals, some would term him as a loud mouth. Nevertheless, the fact is that whether in the field or at his desk, he always remained a controversial journo.

This is not the first time that Hamid Mir claims an attack by unknown persons. In November 2012 also someone made a juvenile attempt by tying a polythene bag under his car, that contained not only prepared explosive but some surplus detonators also and that made the situation quite comical, hence the analyst quarters started doubting about any such somber attempt because whosoever took that much pain at the risk of being caught and tied the bag under his car could have done in seconds by using a magnate, had he been some professional. The good part was that luckily Hamid Mir escaped that attempt.

Mir faced turbulent spells during almost every regime; may that was Nawaz Sharif’s previous tenure, Benazir’s government, Asif Zardari’s era or for that matter Pervez Musharraf’s rule. In fact He was twice banned from Pakistani television; by the Pervez Musharraf government in 2007, and by the Zardari administration in June 2008. Surprisingly he never criticized the civil political elite for their vindictive attitude, so brutally, as the armed forces would remain on his muzzle’s front tip, always. It’s known fact that for the armed forces he always behaved like a hard task master and while utilizing his talk show kept the stress, on. The missing person’s case is one of them where he promoted one Mama Qadeer more than what the latter deserved.

Hamid Mir’s father was a renowned progressive intellectual who remained against the right wingers throughout his life. However, Hamid in mid 90s started showing a leaning towards the right wing, contrary to his late father, hence managed to grab the opportunities to go closer to Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. He interviewed Osama in 2002 but the authenticity of that interview was widely questioned in the journalistic and political circles.

The major muck started in May 2010, when an audio tape of a conversation between Mir and allegedly some senior Taliban leader of Punjabi Taliban surfaced.
In the tape the discussion about kidnapped Khalid Khawaja went to that extent that a senior journalist Rashed Rehman, editor of the English-language Daily Times newspaper had to say publicly that, “If this tape turns out to be genuine, it suggests that a journalist instigated the murder of a kidnapped. A line must be drawn somewhere.” That was the time when Mir sailed lots of troubled waters and due to immense pressure and criticism had to deny the authenticity of the tape. His words were, “I never said these things to these people. This is a concocted tape. They took my voice, sampled it and manufactured this conspiracy against me.” A strong rumor was in the air those days, that ISI helped in defusing the situation and bailed him out of the crisis and soon that provocative tape went in the background.

The fact is beyond any doubt that Mir attained a quick fame and has a large number of fans but again the antagonists are also no less in number. Mir’s program “Capital Talk” is one of the common talk-shows of the electronic media and there was a time when it had a highest rating. At couple of times his guests alleged him for embarrassing them by creating excruciating and humiliating state at the show for them. During the election 2007, a day before the elections Sheikh Rasheed faced the same situation when Mir forced him to go on a back foot by showing an old and out of time video clip. Sheikh Rasheed promptly said, “I know after this footage I have lost tomorrow’s elections but Mir you have stabbed me in the back” or words to that effect.

Mir has his professional competitors also as every prominent professional is expected to have and he would fearlessly keep them on his left. He openly targeted one Mubasher Lucman, yet another popular talk-show host, in Capital Talk to which latter equally valiantly responded and took Mir on.

Hamid Mir is known for his staunchness and sincerity to his profession while having no sympathy or soft corner for any person or party. During his career he has encountered the authorities at one or the other time and been barred from reporting on several occasions; his journalistic work established the presence of militants in Kashmir in October 2005 when he covered the relief work of Kashmiri militants in Pakistan administered Azad Kashmir after an earthquake and that enraged not only the governmental quarters but the Kashmiri militants and the right-wingers also. He openly opposed so-called peace agreements between Taliban and Army in FATA in 2005. Mir visited Bajour tribal area in January 2006 after a US missile attack in Damadola village. He again proved that the US missiles killed only innocent children and women, not Al Qaeda militants which annoyed US for the time being, during Lal Masjid crisis he received threats from some militant groups when wrote investigative stories on Taliban.

Mir bagged a large number of national as well international awards. While, the home awards fetched him enormous appreciation, few international awards, at the same time brought him in the ring.  His receiving the Maharishi Samman Award for Excellence in Journalism announced by Trust for Media Studies, in Jodhpur, India in March 2005 and receiving “Friends of Liberation War Honour” award by Sheikh Hasina Wajid in March 2013 brought heavy disapproval for him. A divisive video showing him discussing and criticizing Pakistan Army’s role in East Pakistan, in a talk show attended by few Bangladeshis and Indians along with Asma Jahangir created a disagreement and anger in Pakistan.

Coming back to the life attempt on Hamid Mir which is widely and rightly criticized and condemned in national and international media, the thing which is quite mysterious and not understandable that how come within an hour of the attempt Mir’s channel GEO came to know that the ISI was involved in the plot? The ethics of investigation demand a deep investigation, keeping all the possibilities in view, even if one is dead sure about the culprits. Such conspiracies take months and years before they could get unearth but amazingly here on GEO TV, Mir’s sibling Amir Mir appeared on the channel in the first hour and right away pointed an accusing finger at the army and ISI which followed by a demand from GEO’s employee journo Ansar Abbasi who asked DG ISI to step down from his post. Amir Mir further disclosed a secret that Hamid Mir had already prepared a video and has sent that to many quarters. One fails to understand that even after years if the channel couldn’t trace the blind murder of their correspondence Wali Babar then how come they determined that ISI was behind the irresponsible and immature attempt? It appears as if GEO has to settle some old scores with the armed forces and ISI which they are doing now at the cost of Hamid Mir. The late filing confirms that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Punjab has accepted the responsibility of attacking Hamid Mir for his links with liberals and promoting Malala. Don’t know what GER or Amir Mir has to say now?

No sane person will appreciate this heinous crime, as a strong condemning and dooming is already pouring in from nooks and corners but at the same time maligning of the sacred national institutions like the armed forces by a scandalous television channel should also not go unnoted, especially when there are a large number of published reports about the channel’s affiliation and association with underlined international agencies. The muck has to stop somewhere before its get too late.

I sincerely wish my friend Hamid Mir a speedy recovery. May he get well soon and back on his feet to lead the crusade again as he has to complete many pending tasks.

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