ISLAMABAD: Director General ISI Lt. Gen. Zaheer-ul-Islam should step down to protect the respect and sanctity of his institution, which is now burdened with the challenge of catching the real culprits.
Whether or not Gen Zaheer or any member of the ISI is involved in this cowardly attack, Hamid Mir’s earlier warning that if an attempt was made on his life the DG ISI and a few others would be responsible has made the institution of the ISI the focus of criticism.
This is too serious an allegation against the top spymaster of the country to be ignored. Since Hamid Mir had pointed his finger directly at Gen Zaheer, his name would continue to be taken as a ‘suspect’ by the national and international media till such time as the real culprits are caught.
Sometime back during his routine visit to the office of The News Investigations Cell, Mir had told all those present there, including this correspondent, that his life was under threat from the ISI chief Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam and a few of his subordinate officials. He informed us that besides the management of Geo, he had shared his statement about his possible attackers with a few others including an international journalists’ organisation.
Keeping in view the profile of Hamid Mir, his warning could not be set aside or pushed under the rug. Mir though did not share the precise reasons as to why he suspected the DG ISI, for any reason Zaheer-ul-Islam is now facing the serious blame of attacking Mir. Because of Zaheer-ul-Islam, the institution of the ISI is also being dragged into the controversy.
Even otherwise, there have been complaints about the presence of some “disgruntled elements” in the prime intelligence agency of the country that are said to be serving the vested interest of individuals. They could be dubbed as an “ISI within the ISI”, and there is a need to identify and isolate such elements.
The institutions of the Pakistan Army and the ISI are critical for the defence and security of Pakistan but certain individuals, including dictators, have seriously dented the repute and working of these institutions by using them for their vested interests.
These institutions badly require reform to get them focused for the prime job they are assigned and this could only be possible by cleansing these institutions of those who are in the habit of using the muscles of these institutions for vested interests.
No less a person than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif have been informed a few months back of the serious threats to some top members of the Jang Group management. Here too some elements within the ISI were named but neither any inquiry has been ordered nor any security has been provided to those facing threats.
Instead, a complete aloofness is shown by those who are required to take action in such matters. Consequently, those threatened have been compelled to live abroad.
So many journalists have been killed in the past but hardly in any case have the murderers been caught. A few years back when our colleague Umar Cheema was kidnapped, thrashed and thrown in a deserted area,
I had demanded the then DG ISI Lt Gen (retd) Shuja Pasha that if someone in the ISI was not involved in the attack than it was capable enough to get to the culprits. But till this day no one knows who had attacked Cheema.
In Hamid Mir’s case, despite his earlier notice and naming of the few, it is premature to finally conclude who did it. But Mir’s complaint has put the institution of the ISI under a shadow. One is sure if the ISI uses its resources and skills, it could get hold of the culprits. Will it do it?