Hamid Mir, a primetime TV talk show host, has reacted angrily to an attack on fellow Pakistani journalist Asad Ali Toor this week. Without explicitly naming anyone in his emotional outburst against the Pakistan Army and the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence Service), Mir has accused their leadership of cowardice in allegedly ordering attacks on journalists. Dredging up the name of "General Rani", believed to have been the mistress of former Army Chief and President Yahya Khan in the 1970s, Hamid Mir has threatened to reveal similar scandals of current Pakistan Army generals. “If you’re breaking into our homes to assault us, well, we cannot enter your homes as you have tanks and guns, but we can make things public, things from inside your homes,” Mir said at a journalists' rally in Islamabad.
|Hamid Mir (2nd from right) with Asad Toor
Pakistan ISI has denied any role in the attack on Toor. A statement of the agency said: "The ISI believes that when the faces of the accused can be clearly seen on CCTV, there should be no hurdle in the investigation" It further added, "The continuation of such allegations shows that the ISI is being targeted [...] under an organized conspiracy".
This entire episode has raised the following questions:
1. Why the attacks on journalists in Pakistan? Are they specially targeted? Are other ordinary citizens subjected to similar but less publicized attacks? Is it a symptom of a larger phenomenon of failing criminal justice system?
2. Why are the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies automatically blamed without any investigation or evidence? Whose responsibility is it to carry out such investigations and prosecute perpetrators?
3. Has Hamid Mir crossed the line between journalism and propaganda? Are some Pakistani journalists deliberately maligning Pakistani military and ISI leadership in the name of free speech? Should they be investigated for slander?
4. Where do most Pakistanis stand vis-a-vis the military? Do they have greater confidence in the military or the politicians and journalists who blame the military for attacks?
Please watch the following discussion on this subject:
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