Geo TV premeditated assault on ISI

By Asif Haroon Rajahamid

 On April 19, 2014, Geo TV anchor and senior journalist Hamid Mir was attacked by unknown assailant (s) in Karachi when he was travelling in a car from the airport to Geo office. Out of 12 bullets fired, six bullets pierced his abdomen and legs. The driver who remained unscathed drove him to the hospital where he is currently under treatment and reportedly is out of danger. Such gory attacks by unidentified terrorists are a common phenomenon in Karachi where daily score of the target killers ranges from 6-12. Despite Rangers-Police combined targeted operation since last September, the gory practice has not been controlled. The dastardly attack on Hamid Mir is condemnable and we pray for his early recovery.

While the attack on Hamid Mir was undoubtedly reprehensible, the unethical reaction of Geo TV was more shameful. Ironically, the Geo News channel’s onslaught began with a vengeance within hours of the incident when even on-spot inspection of the site and preliminary investigation had not been carried out and FIR was not registered. It seemed as if the TV channel was already waiting in readiness to spring into action and start a willful malicious media campaign against the DG ISI, ISI as an institution and the Army. What was detestable was that the photo of DG ISI was repeatedly flashed during the over 8-hour program aired without a break, indirectly holding him responsible for the attack. Ansar Abbasi in his exuberance demanded immediate resignation of DG ISI.

Even a layman could make out that the program aired by Geo TV had been stage-managed and pre-meditated with the sole objective of tarnishing the image of DG ISI and ISI. The hidden purpose behind the vilification program was to create a gulf between the armed forces and the people of Pakistan in general and the government and the defence establishment in particular. The whole lot of tutored anchors trained their guns on the ISI and based their arguments on the statement of the brother of Hamid Mir who stated soon after the incident that Hamid had secretly expressed his fears within his family members and close friends and his employer that he was receiving threats from ISI and in case he was murdered, DG ISI Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam would be responsible. Surprisingly, none of the analysts bothered to consider any other possibility.

Neither Hamid nor any of his family member or his organization deemed it fit to register an FIR, or even a complaint that he was facing life threat. If he was facing life threats, how come he was moving around so freely and boldly without a guard? Why did he continue to remain in an offensive mode and repeatedly put the blame of missing persons on intelligence agencies despite the threats? His body language and facial expressions never indicated any signs of stress. Some say, the time bomb found strapped under his car last year was a ploy to increase his popularity rating and ISI threat was also played up to enhance his rating. How come Hamid Mir and his TV channel came in bad books and felt threatened and none else? It meant something was wrong somewhere. Is it not true that the Geo in its blind urge to make big money has crossed the red lines and all limits of decency?

Over a period of time, Geo TV has earned the reputation of being more of an Indian channel than a Pakistani channel promoting Indian themes/ agenda and maintaining an anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan stance. As opposed to spiteful role of Indian media against Pakistan, Geo TV stance towards India has always been soft and friendly. Jang Group owned by Mir Shakil-ur Rahman co-hosts highly controversial Aman-ki-Asha program with India which is RAW funded. Ansar Abbasi, one of the journalists of Geo News has recently come out with a bizarre revelation that Aman-ki-Asha is ISI funded. Geo TV and ‘The News/Jang’ newspapers are known for promoting secularism, creating rifts between the institutions and sowing seeds of doubts/ misgivings over settled issues like ‘Two-nation’ theory, Objectives Resolution, ideology of Pakistan, and making Quaid-e-Azam controversial by projecting him as a secular.

While Geo TV glamorizes Hamid Mir, he is looked down upon by many for his anti-Army/ISI/FC stance, for espousing the cause of separatists wanting to make Baluchistan independent, overplaying missing persons issue and for his pro-India posture. In early 2009, while the then government was denying that Ajmal Kasab, falsely implicated by India in Mumbai attacks case in November 2008, was a Pakistani, Hamid Mir took the Geo team to a village in Punjab and broke the story that Kasab was a Pakistani born and brought up in village Faridkot. He sold the story despite the villagers showing their ignorance about Kasab. That way he strengthened India’s handle to beat Pakistan with.

He is the one who blamed the ISI for burning down Ziarat Residency and would have kept spitting venom had BLA not claimed responsibility. Reportedly, he had poisoned the ears of Asian Tigers, a group affiliated with TTP who had taken late Col retired Sultan Amir Tarar, popularly known as Col Imam and Squadron Leader retired Khalid Khawaja hostage in March 2010. Based on the information given by Hamid Mir on a phone that Khawaja was an ISI agent and unreliable, the captors killed both of them in January 2011.

ISI bashing by the Geo TV was fully capitalized by the Indian media as well as the British media and the trio worked in tandem to discredit ISI. Let it be known that the ISI is a world famed organization which is second to none and its effectiveness has been acknowledged even by the traditional adversaries. Since its birth in mid 1950s, it has stood as a guard against inimical forces striving to harm Pakistan. It acts as the first line of defence for the armed forces and has valiantly kept the outreach of anti-Pakistan CIA-RAW-MI-6-RAAM-Mosad-BND nexus at bay since 2002 and is also supporting the security forces fighting the war in the northwest and separatist movement in the south zealously. In the process, large numbers of its members have lost their lives at the hands of foreign paid saboteurs.

The Army and ISI are defending the motherland stretching from the peaks of Siachin in the north to the deserts of Sindh and barren hills of Balochistan in the south under extremely adverse conditions. Under extraordinary stressful conditions when the very existence of the country is under grave threat, putting the premier institutions faced with an existential threat under further stress and strain through slanderous media campaign is highly undesirable.

The adversaries of Pakistan consider the armed forces and the ISI as the only bottlenecks in their way to accomplish their sinister designs against Pakistan. The US has invested $ 60 million to buy the loyalties of Pak media while India and Israel too have invested heavy amounts to influence leading TV channels and newspapers. The Christian Science Monitor dated September 2, 2011 reported that two journalists belonging to ‘Express News’ and ‘Dunya News’ filing reports back home from Washington drew their salaries from the US State Department funding through a nonprofit intermediary. Despite their best efforts they have been unable to weaken the trunk of these two organizations.

Apart from demonizing Islam and secularizing the society through media, the other major task of paid Pakistani journalists, anchors and pseudo intellectuals is to build perceptions and create hatred against the Army and ISI. The invisible hand of sabotage and subversion has caused incalculable damage to the fabric of the country. The agents of subversion are busy polluting the minds of the people and weakening the country under a well-defined agenda. Unfortunately, a section of media is playing into the hands of our adversaries of Pakistan for the sake of material benefits.

It is indeed surprising that the head of ISI was callously attacked by the media barons for 8 hours and the government as well as PEMRA remained mum and paralyzed. Other TV channels acted more responsibly. Response of civil society is very encouraging. I have received dozens of messages condemning Geo TV. There are wide calls to block Geo TV for defaming ISI. A petition has been filed in a law court seeking registration of treason case against Jang & Geo Group and his owner Mir Shakilur Rahman and Amir Ali, brother of Hamid Mir.

Being the member of Executive Committee of PESS headed by Lt Gen Hamid Gul, I am in a position to feel the pulse of well over 2.5 million retired officers, JCOs, NCOs and men. They all are highly perturbed and resentful over the perverse role of media and inaction of the government in taking to task the black sheep within media and controlling the unruly and undisciplined media indulging in yellow journalism. Government’s inaction has given rise to suspicions about its intentions and motives.

A judicial commission has been established to probe the incident and come out with its findings. Till the finalization of the report by the Commission, all concerned parties should exercise restraint and refrain from drawing hasty conclusions. PEMRA should come out of its hibernation and start managing the media houses and guide them that instead of indulging in sensationalism, defamation and spreading despondency, they should play a constructive role in bridging divides within the society and promoting harmony between the State institutions.

The writer is a defence analyst, executive member of PESS, member of MEASAC Research Centre, Thinkers Forum Pakistan and Opinion Maker.

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