Dimensions of Hamid Mir Episode
In the aftermath of attack on the senior journalist and anchor of Geo TV channel, Hamid Mir who was severely injured on April 19, this year when unidentified gunmen opened fire at his car in Karachi, leaders of various political and religious parties including all the segments of society have been condemning the the Geo TV channel which deduced hastily outcome of the assault. Without any evidence, or inquiry, Geo TV channel displayed a photo of the DG ISI Lt. Gen Zaheerul Islam, and its some renowned media anchors accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam in this respect. They propagated that Hamid Mir had already informed his family that ISI would be responsible for his death. It was embarrassing for all the nation when a media analyst of this channel demanded that Gen. Zaheerul Islam should resign. The Geo TV’s defamation tirade directed against ISI and its DG continued for over eight hours, while Pakistan Army was also targetted.
On the same day of the incident, DG ISPR Maj-Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa condemned the attack on Hamid Mir, but he refuted baseless allegations against ISI and its DG. The reaction shown by Pak Army (ISPR) was sagacious, but Geo TV commentators continued their blame game. Reacting to the baseless allegations of Geo TV, Maj-Gen. Bajwa said on April 20, that Pakistan Army will take legal action in accordance with the law and Constitution. He added, “Both Pakistan Army and ISI are responsible and honourable institutions… there should be no doubt that the hearts of the people of Pakistan beat with the army.”
Every thing became crystal clear when foreign media, NGOs and human rights groups reactivated their campaign against Pakistan, its army and especially ISI by supporting the so-called propaganda of the Geo TV, while favouring the misconceptions of Hamid Mir. Particularly, India avail the opportunity, and under the pretext of false accusations, its renowned newspapers, TV channels and high officials maligned ISI. In this regard, on April 28, voicing his support for the Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, former external affairs minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha called upon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif through a letter to stop ISI from suspending Geo TV license.
Prime Minister Sharif who went to see Mir in the hospital, remained silent on Geo TV’s allegations. While Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan stated on April 25 that one-sided media trial by the Geo TV and Jang group against Pakistan’s armed forces and ISI which have been serving the greater national interests of Pakistan, should end.
While praising the armed forces and ISI, besides other leaders, and political parties, even Jamat-i-Islami pointed out that Geo and Jang group has been implementing anti-Pakistan agenda of external powers. Especially, Chief of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan who also defended the stance of Army and ISI, announced on May 2, 2014 that he and his party would boycott Geo and Jang group, revealing that his party would give out a document “exposing foreign funding” given to this media group. Similarly other TV channels like Samaa, Express, Dunya Din etc. also rejected false accusations of the Geo TV against ISI and armed forces in wake of continued processions and rallies in favaour of the latter—demanding that Geo and Jang group must be shut down due to its ant-state activities. In this respect, the entire nation appreciate the TV channel ARY which outrightly supported ISI’s stance and rejected unjustified allegations against it and its DG ISI by Geo channel.
Feeling the pinch of acrimonious criticism of public, Geo TV slightly altered its behavior, but driven by power motives and its wealth, it shamelessly decided to contest its position through legal means. Some analysts opine that certain powerful quarters are backing Geo TV, while the channel developed resilient dominion to dictate terms to the government. Others say that Geo TV will soon replay its negative role of targeting ISI, once the defamation case is decided by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) or judicial commission in its favour.
However, Hamid Mir episode includes various dimensions which show as to why some entity made an attempt to kill him. First of all, there are a number of contradictions in the developments related to Hamid Mir incident. His driver and and security guard remained safe, and they were neither detained by police for their initial statement nor appeared on the Geo TV. When other media analysts pointed out that as to why no FIR was lodged, the same was lodged against unknown persons, without mention of ISI. But on April 24, first formal statement of Hamid Mir was conveyed to the media by his brother Amir Mir—holding ISI responsible for orchestrating the attack.
Showing ambivalent approach, he also disclosed that according to Hamid Mir, he had also been facing threats from both state and non-state actors.
Menwhile, taking note of the public reaction in relation to defamation of ISI, Geo group said that it is personal statement of Hamid Mir, and the group has no link with it. On April 30, Hamid Mir refused to record his statement in presence of ISI representative when the eight-member Joint Investigation Team visited him at Hospital. He also changed his earlier statement that ISI was responsible for the assault, saying that some individuals inside the agency planned the same.
Another notable dimension is that If ISI had threatened Hamid Mir as its target, why he earlier did not lodge FIR or why he did not go to the court regarding this serious issue. In this regard, a layman needs to go in depth to know the real face of anchor Hamid Mir who had been serving the interests of the US, India and the Taliban including some other entities clandestinely by sabotaging the national interests of Pakistan.
In 1996, Hamid Mir became the editor of a Urdu newspaper “Daily Pakistan” in Islamabad and in 1997, he launched “Daily Ausaf” as founding editor. Osama Bin Laden used to send his news message exclusively to him for publication. Hamid Mir met many Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When Afghanistan was attacked by the US-led allied forces, Osama invited Mir for his interview. While describing Osama Bin Laden as a hero, Hamid Mir repeatedly terms the US as the enemy. Latter on, he, directly or indirectly supported America. In the recent past, in the tone of the US, Mir, negatively, blamed that the then ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha was also involved in the memogate issue. Then, he took shelter in US by spreading rumours that his life is at stake.
On April 18, 2011, in the daily “Jang” Hamid Mir wrote about his trip to Bangladesh for a conference regarding English newspaper “Daily Star.” Mir claimed that the assassination of Bhutto and Sheikh Mujib were plots, masterminded by the US.
When on November 26, 2008 terror attacks occurred in Mumbai, the culprit who was caught alive was Ajmal Kasab. Nobody knew who Ajmal Kasab was and where he came from, but Hamid Mir and Geo broke the headline that Ajmal Kasab is Pakistani and is resident of Faridkot village. Geo TV was repetedly displaying it like an advertisement to distort the image of Pakistan and its security agencies, which clearly showed that it was the result of a deal between India and this media group. Although Indian secret agency RAW took a forced statement from him against ISI, yet on December 31, 2008, the FBI team which visited Faridkot said that no evidence could be collected, which could confirm Ajmal Kasab’s claim of being Pakistani national. In 2013, ex-investigative officer of the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation, Satish Verma disclosed that India itself arranged terror attacks on Indian parliament in 2001 in New Delhi and in Mumbai in 2008 to strengthen anti-terrorism laws.
In the recent past, when Quaid’s residency in Ziarat was attacked by the Baloch separatists, Hamid Mir blamed ISI for the episode, but after a few days, Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility, releasing a video in that regard.
In fact, Mir was having close ties with the militants, and took their interviews, but, afterwords, sometimes, he wrote or spoke in their favour and sometimes, he criticised them. Notably, those militants who planted a bomb underneath his car in November 2012 were not exposed even though Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had accepted responsibility for that. It was the former president Gen. Musharaff who was also deceived by Mir who used him to get cheap popularity in the field of journalism.
Besides, the shocking audiotape of a conversation between Hamid Mir and a man purportedly linked to the TTP, had revealed that negative information which Mir passed on to the Taliban led to the assassination of Retired Squadron Leader Khalid Khawaja, but to divert the attention, it was allegedly propagated that he was killed by a group calling themselves the “Asian Tigers.” In the conversation, Mir goes on to detail what he knows about Khawaja’s background, sometimes, linking him to the CIA agent named William Casey and sometimes, to an international network of Qadianis, while showing resentment against the latter.
However, since the Supreme Court of Pakistan has been dealing with case of missing persons, especially of Balochistan, while speaking in the tone of anti-Pakistan elements, Hamid Mir and other Geo anchors left no stone unturned in implicating Pak Army and ISI not only about the disappeared persons, but also human rights violations in Balochistan. While, fact of the matter is that the missing persons have been killed in subversive acts, arranged by American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad through their affiliated militants groups in various places of Pakistan. In case of Balochistan, foreign-assisted BLA and other separatist outfits which have been fighting for secession of the province kidnapped and killed many innocent people and the security personnel in the province, while claiming responsibility like TTP. These insurgents groups are responsible for human rights violations in Balochistan.
Undoubtedly, Hamid Mir was deceiving every entity by shifting his stance. So any foreign secret agency or TTP might have made attempt on his life, not only to create a rift between Pak Army and ISI, but also to misguide the general masses against security forces.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations