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Umar Cheema
Sunday, April 20, 2014
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir was not attacked once but thrice on Saturday. An attempt was made on his life in Karachi followed by attacks by a particular section on the social media and the sympathisers of agencies on a TV channel who were spitting fire on Hamid Mir as he blamed the ISI and its chief for their possible involvement.

 

The Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) followed suit by regretting defamation of a national security institution without any solid proof.

 

Had he named any politician or a political party, heavens would have fallen with this particular section demanding the resignation of the accused from the public office to face investigation.

 

Blaming the political class for everything wrong happening under the sun is a routine matter. Allegations against them make the headlines without any fear of reprisal. Their pictures are flashed, declaring them culprits without investigation.

 

Saturday was a different day. Amir Mir shared on air the concerns of his brother Hamid Mir who had been under threat and recorded his message to the family for naming the institution and individuals he suspected in case of an attack on him.

 

No sooner had his message been relayed than a particular group started anti-Hamid Mir and anti-Geo war on the social media that was fully aided by a TV channel where a few former army men, including General (R) Amjad, were engaged in a marathon talk. Majority of the social media users, however, supported the victim journalist Hamid Mir and Geo TV.

 

Journalistic and non-journalistic bodies also strongly expressed solidarity with Hamid Mir and Geo TV. But the particular group started attacking Hamid Mir and Geo TV declaring them in a traditional way the agents of RAW. They didn’t care to think that why the victim journalist was feeling threatened by the ISI — the most feared agency facing several allegations of attacks on journalists.

 

Hamid Mir is an incredibly brave person and his family is not scared either. A typical reaction in event of such a tragic incident could have been an uneasy silence. This was a different case, putting the Geo TV management in an awkward situation. Besides journalist colleagues of Hamid Mir within and outside the Group, his family was ready to stage a protest in case Hamid Mir’s recorded message had not been aired.

 

On the other hand, the Editorial Board and management were under pressure from the ISI friends and sympathisers not to name the top spy agency and its chief. However, Hamid Mir’s colleagues within and outside the Group and his family prevailed as Geo TV decided to side with its employee. According to the ethics of journalism, the ISPR’s point of view was also constantly aired.

 

Every choice has its price. Attacks on Geo management on the social media and tamed TV channels are in progress.

 

Here comes a question: Has the ISI ever thought about the reason for allegations thrown on it? Hamid Mir is fortunate to have survived attempt and would spill the beans once he gets back to work. What about Saleem Shehzad? Didn’t he allege the ISI for a possible attack on him that eventually took his life?

 

Same goes with the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. He was tortured and his head and eyebrows were shaved off in 2003. Just a couple of days ago, he disclosed in a talk show on a channel that he was brutalised by the then Maj. Khalid Pervez, who was in charge of ISI directorate in Faisalabad. Same goes in my case.

 

I had also held the ISI responsible for kidnapping and torturing me. A judicial commission constituted to investigate the incident also endorsed my point saying that involvement of agencies could not be ruled out. Same was the conclusion of judicial commission in Saleem Shehzad case.

 

The ISI can’t repair its image just by muzzling the media and issuing a press release through the ISPR. It is time for introspection. The guardians of this institution must think why the citizens of Pakistan feel so convinced and compelled to name it for hounding and harassment. It can come out clean by establishing its innocence that is possible only through apprehending the attackers if they don’t belong to it. Fingers will continue to be raised at the agency unless that is done.