Mr Chairperson: Asian Human Rights Commission

999By Ishaal Zehra

Quite an irresponsible type of document was drafted by the Asian Human Rights Commission as an Appeal letter against the Pakistan military establishment, more precisely ISI, after the attack on Hamid Mir. Accusing the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) for issuance of a show cause notice to Geo Television Channel to be followed, subsequently, by cancellation of its license on the instructions of the Ministry of Defence, the AHRC even confirmed that the request was originally initiated by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), calling it an illegal spy agency of the armed forces.

The case narrative given by AHRC about the top class spy agency is irresponsible, illogical and premature as the later developments prove it. Pakistani public felt really sorry for an organization like AHRC who lost its battle for the human rights in the hands of this stupid and vague case of Hamid Mir’s injury. Personally, I could have read only a single page of that allegory.

AHRC should have confirmed the facts before putting up such an appeal on the web. Mir’s claim that the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had been sent a video earlier by him laying out his allegation of ISI’s responsibility if anything happened to him was refuted by the CPJ the very next morning. Many a people must have heard the interview on BBC Urdu themselves while others have read it in the daily ‘Pakistan Today’ which quoted the CPJ sources that they had not received any recorded video in this regard.

Practically all the senior Pakistani journalists/ columnists and anchorpersons, leaving a few who are already well known for their “Foreign Agendas”, have expressed concern over the organized campaign against the security agencies by a section of the media in the name of the attack on Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir, saying this is a clear violation of journalistic values and code of conduct. Human Rights activist Asma Jahangir and prominent media persons like Ayaz Amir, Talat Hussain, Shazeb Khanzada, Haroon Rashid and nearly all others condemned the GEO channel for its non-serious handling of the issue. All objected to the television channel’s decision to air photographs of the ISI chief while leveling accusations against him of involvement in the attack on Mir. None of them said that inquiry should not be done but there are journalistic ethics to report any incident and verification of news with supporting proof should be there before establishing a fact.

Senior anchorperson of ARY News, Mubashir Lucman, first of all condemned the attack on Hamid Mir, yet he referred to the alleging of ISI to be behind the attack as a premature act. He stated that initiating propaganda against prestigious institutions of the state, without the initial investigations of the event being done, is entirely unjustified. He urged for an investigation of the attack on Hamid Mir, as well as the motives and factors behind framing of accusations on ISI.

Moeed Pirzada on his facebook page shared something more interesting. He says, Just came across at Zem TV: An old 2012 Interview of Hamid Mir with Arnab Goswami of Indian channel, Times Now – What appears a bit problematic is that in this interview Hamid Mir appears under threat from Gen. Shuja Pasha? however recently we were made to believe by GEO TV that he was under threats from Gen. Zaheer ul Islam…But this is not all; when Hamid provides evidence of threats to journalists he gives examples of Saleem Shahzad and Wali Khan Babar in the same breath as if both were gunned down by ISI, without pointing out that in case of Wali Khan Babar fingers were clearly pointed towards MQM and not Agencies…given the fact that this interview was to a top Indian channel and an Anchor known for hating Pakistan this becomes doubly interesting…

In a press release, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, also demanded that Geo should apologize to the Pakistani nation for its baseless allegations and media vilification of the Pakistan army and ISI. He said while all state institutions must function within the law and Constitution, it is unacceptable that media houses launch campaigns against any institution without adopting the legal route of providing proof and approaching the Courts. Even the opposition leader in Pakistan National Assembly and senior member of Pakistan People’s party, Khursheed Shah, criticized Geo Television for defaming a national institution like Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on the day their Hamid Mir was attacked.

A friend of mine opined: if victim has a solid proof, then he has every right to name the culprit no matter if he or she is a President, Prime Minister or a General. Now, it’s up to Hamid Mir to present proof or get punishment for maligning innocent persons. No criminal should be allowed to take refuge under sanctity of any institution.

By connecting with Hamid Mir’s/ GEO TV version of the incident, AHRC has shown that it is working on the agenda of a private TV channel (one of the dozens) that has hurt the feelings of a large number of the nation not only in cantonment areas of Pakistan but throughout the Pakistani community around the globe, for its non-verified attack on National Institutions and military establishment.

Maligning such a significant institution of Pakistan which has lost its hundreds and thousands of personnel’s while serving the nation and the world against the onslaught of communists in Afghanistan, the menace of war on terror; that too on the account of such an attack where in the initial report Hamid Mir was shot 3 bullets while next day they were magically transformed into 6 bullets, is not acceptable by any means. This cheap act cannot be an act of such a big and disciplined organization.

Being a humble Pakistani and an AHRC follower, I would request the chairperson AHRC, Mr. John J. Clancey, to please verify the facts of this appeal for the sake of the name of this prestigious organization since this appeal may doom the recognition of this institute which it has earned over many years.

(The columnist is Human Rights Activist)

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