Sunday, May 30, 2021

Pakistani Journalist Hamid Mir's Unhinged Response to Attack on Asad Toor

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:


Ras S. said...

Has he lost his marbles?

Rashid A. said...

Those who don’t know “General Rani”, here is a brief intro. including some of the “victories” of saviors of Pakistan.

Read and know why Pakistan is where it is.

حیراں ہوں دل کو روؤں کہ پیٹوں جگر کو میں

مقدور ہو تو ساتھ رکھوں نوحہ گر کو میں

چلتا ہوں تھوڑی دور ہر اک تیز رو کے ساتھ

پہچانتا نہیں ہوں ابھی راہ بر کو میب

Saifuddin T. said...

Mir enjoys no credibility within Pakistani journalists. He is seen actively collecting envelopes from Zardari and his cronies.

Khalil said...

What is special with journalists, politicians or advocates, that they should be dealt as VIPs?
Every Pakistani should be treated equally.
The three classes mentioned above are mostly formed by corrupts and they are overwhelmingly pressurising the society for special treatment and some institutes are bowing to it because in return they are favoured by these corrupts.
Hamid Mir reputation was not an exemplary one and nor his father's.
If government of Bangladesh accepts, we could despatch him and his whole family there to live in peace.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani journo #HamidMir ‘taken off air’ after #military outburst: “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.” #AsadToor

Prominent Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir has been taken off the air just days after he spoke out against the country’s military at a protest against an attack on another journalist.

Mir told Al Jazeera he has been informed he will not be hosting “Capital Talk” on Geo News from Monday evening.

“I’ve only been told by Geo management that I won’t be hosting the show,” Mir said.

“They said there is a lot of pressure [after the statements at the protest last week]. They did not say who it is coming from.”

With specifying a reason for the move, Geo News’s management confirmed to Al Jazeera that Mir had been taken off-air and would not be hosting the show.

Informed sources told Al Jazeera that Geo News had been “pressured to fire [Mir]”.

Last week, independent Pakistani journalist Asad Ali Toor, known for his critical coverage of the country’s government and military, was attacked in his Islamabad home by three unidentified men, who beat him up and warned him about his work.

Play Video
In his speech at the protest against the attack in Islamabad on Friday, Mir had threatened to identify those responsible for a spate of recent attacks on journalists in Pakistan. He used several terms implying the involvement of the Pakistani military and named Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“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 the protest, alluding to the military’s involvement.

In 2014, Mir survived a shooting attack by unidentified attackers shortly after he hosted an episode of his programme that focused on alleged rights violations by the military in the southwestern Balochistan province.

“The space is completely shrinking. In fact, I’d say it is finishing. You are not even allowed to express yourself while you are not on duty,” said Iqbal Khattak, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) representative in Pakistan and head of media rights group Freedom Network, in response to Mir being taken off-air.

“I think we were proven right that the state and the government are putting pressure to influence the editorial independence of certain media houses.”

Khattak said the threats against journalists specifically targeted those who reported in a critical manner on the government and the military.

“Journalists who are critical of the government policies are under pressure, and those who are saying that ‘everything is fine’, they have no issues as far as their security and safety are concerned.”

ISI’s involvement
Toor, who was attacked on Wednesday, said in a police report that one of his attackers identified himself as belonging to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s main intelligence agency.

On Saturday, the Pakistan government termed the accusation “a well-thought-out conspiracy”.

Pakistan’s military has directly ruled the country for roughly half of its 74-year history, and critics say it continues to exercise control over many aspects of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.

In 2019, an Al Jazeera investigation found that journalists, editors and managers at news organisations across the country reported their work was being censored by the government and the military through the targeting of their news organisations using financial means.

Rita P. said...

Pakistan's ISI wins apology over claim it shot Hamid Mir

"The Jang group wants to categorically state that it has the greatest regard and respect for the armed forces of Pakistan and its leadership. It was never our intention to malign or offend any institution or person," the apology said.

Jang conceded that its coverage had been "misleading, disproportionate and inappropriate, giving [the] impression of a campaign".

"This caused deep hurt to ISI as an institution, its director general Lt Gen Zaheer ul-Islam, members of his family, the rank and file of the armed forces and a large number of our viewers. We deeply apologise for hurting them all."

Last week, Jang's newspapers carried full-page adverts apologising for a morning show on Geo that led to charges of blasphemy by the religious lobby.

The channel, once Pakistan's most-watched, has been accused of unprofessional conduct by the military and treachery by its business rivals.

It says it has lost more than 80% of its viewers in the month since Mr Mir was shot six times in Karachi.

He survived and is recovering. Who attacked him remains unclear.

Pakistan's media regulator Pemra is set to consider the ISI's complaint against Geo on Wednesday.

Riaz Haq said...

Who was the mastermind of the attack on #AsadToor? #PakistanArmy's harshest critic Gul Bukhari says #ISI had nothing to do with attack on Toor. She alleges that fellow journalist Imran Riaz Khan ordered the attack & his people carried it out via @YouTube

Umar A. said...

Salaam Riaz,
Who is this Gul Bukhari? Surprised to see that most of her fan base seems from India by the messages posted on the side. Her assertion that ISI is a criminal organization requires scrutiny.
I can't stand such 'patriots'. The Hamid Mir, Saleem Safi ilk.

Riaz Haq said...

Umar: "Who is this Gul Bukhari? Surprised to see that most of her fan base seems from India"

Gul Bukhari's full time job is to attack Pakistani military and ISI. 

She claimed she was kidnapped to get asylum in the UK in 2018.

Riaz Haq said...

In a clear but unnamed reference to Asad Ali Toor, journalist Moeed Pirzada writes:

"Pakistani state institutions – Police, FIA, and courts – are unable to discipline an ordinary petty mischief monger who slanders fellow journalists, their wives, and other women in media because this obnoxious man conveniently subterfuges and presents himself as a “journalist”.

Riaz Haq said...

‘With great power comes great responsibility’ is a phrase commonly reserved for the larger than life characters leaping and bouncing across the big screen. But in today’s age, it is equally applicable to news channels. Technological advancement has altered power dynamics; information has become a bargaining chip. Thus those controlling its dissemination have become powerful. Yet they fail to be responsible.

Recently, anchorperson Shahid Masood apologised before the honourable court for misstating facts regarding the culprit in Zainab’s rape and murder case. Dr Masood had previously claimed that the convict Imran Ali was tied to an international pornography ring. He argued that Imran Ali had 37 foreign accounts for this purpose. He also insisted that a minister from Punjab was also an accomplice in the crime.

However, contrary to the claims, a joint investigation team found all 18 allegations made by Dr Shahid Masood false.

Penalising Dr Shahid Masood for his allegations will certainly impact the media industry. The floodgates for lawsuits will be pushed open. Reporters may become reluctant to file stories

Now a Supreme Court bench has rejected Dr Shahid Masood’s apology and request to withdraw the case. Remarks made by judges in a recent hearing suggest the host may face contempt proceedings along with a permanent ban on his show. Earlier, veteran anchor Hamid Mir had warned Dr Shahid Masood against the possibility of court proceedings against him. Other media personnel have also expressed their concerns regarding the case. Journalists fear their profession as a whole will suffer if Dr Shahid Masood is punished by the court.

Penalising Dr Shahid Masood for his allegations will certainly impact the media industry. The floodgates for lawsuits will be pushed open. Reporters may become reluctant to file stories, thereby delaying the money train channels thrive upon. However, any sensible journalist will cross-check his story from multiple sources. But, it is still possible all sources are mistaken, resulting in the unintentional publication of a false story. Yet, it is pertinent to note, while a mistake can be made by any journalist, it is not a mistake if repeated.

Dr Shahid Masood reiterated the allegations against Imran Ali on several occasions with remarkable confidence. He even went on to state: ‘Hang me if I am proven wrong.’ Thus he did not make an innocent mistake. On the contrary, Dr Shahid Masood failed to calculate the opportunity cost of publicising a shocking albeit false story. He chose to sacrifice the credibility attached to a journalist for the sake of popularity. Consequently, some form of penalty needs to be doled out, as setting a precedent has now become necessary.

Haunted by a race for ratings the quality of journalism in Pakistan continues to decline. The greed for monetary gain has compromised the profession’s very integrity. And punishing one solider often sets the whole platoon straight. The media industry needs to be reminded of the highly sensitive role it plays in shaping not only society in Pakistan, but the way our nation is recognised and understood internationally. We were just beginning to scrub off stains from the Osama Bin Laden fiasco when Dawn Leaks surfaced and caused an uproar.

After many backdoor negotiations Dawn Leaks was put to rest but it must not be forgotten. Freedom of press must be preserved. If components of the military are involved in sponsoring terrorism, then a journalist has every right to bring this story to light. However, if such a story is to be published it needs to do more than quote a mere conversation behind closed doors. It cannot simply state that CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has accused the military’s top brass of aiding terrorists in a highly secretive meeting held at the Prime Minister’s office. Such an explosive story needs to be backed by solid evidence if our national security and foreign relations are to be put at risk.

Riaz Haq said...

Banning social media will hurt the government: Najam Sethi

The West will put pressure on Pakistan "establishment" by talking about human rights, using GPS+ and FATF.

The western media is not focusing not on Burma or France or India but on Pakistan.

International community will put pressure on Pakistan to ease up on media.

Raza Rumi says "Isn't it what the establishment's charge of 5th generation warfare....we are being accused of being part of Asad Ali Toor conspiracy".

Sethi says government pressure will force a lot more mainstream journalists into social media in Pakistan abroad which will much be harder to control.

Riaz Haq said...

Electronic broadcast media in Pakistan spares no effort to highlight instances where its freedoms are infringed upon (justified in its own right), but never seems to look inward and determine if it is at fault for, well, anything. While freedom of the media needs to be protected and treated as sacrosanct, why is it that this sanctity does not extend to their own coverage? Why is it that it is considered unethical to ban a news channel, paper or journalist, but such reporting is considered ‘efficient journalism’?

There exists an umbrella organisation to monitor and enforce a code of ethics for electronic broadcast media, called the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority. Many call Pemra a toothless organisation for failing to rein in channels that continue to display unethical behaviour. Pemra itself would have you believe that it is constantly on the prowl, serving notices, imposing fines and keeping everyone in line.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. For too long, Pemra’s appointment has been a political one, with the body accused of taking action against those it is ‘cleared’ to take action against. Private conversations with staff at Pemra indicate that the vast majority of the fines and reprimands they impose are challenged in court, where they are stuck in an infinite loop of hearings, delays and countersuits.

As is the case with most things in Pakistan, the issue is not that there exists no code of ethics; it is that it is not implemented effectively. Efforts have been made many times to create a streamlined version of the said code, and implement it universally across all electronic media, but the effort does not seem to take root. Pemra too has guidelines on the matter, though they are not as wisely circulated or easy to find as they ought to be, and the language used is often nebulous, prone to very specific interpretations, and confusing. For example, if ‘immoral content’ must not be aired, what precisely is immoral, and who decides the definition?

The first step on the road to ensuring ethical journalism in Pakistan is to establish and agree upon a universal best practices code of ethics, combining the many versions that float about today. They need to be clear, unambiguous in their language (a major problem with the code now), and follow established guidelines for ethical reporting. Finally, in order to implement them universally, any breach needs to be formally criminalised through proper legislation, and judiciously pursued by both the watchdog and the courts.

Riaz Haq said...

Long list of Pakistani grant recipients from NED (National Endowment For Democracy), a well-known CIA front:

The list includes several journalist organizations.

Media Matters for Democracy


To strengthen the knowledge and capacity of information producers, journalists, and the public to identify and counter online disinformation. The grantee will conduct research on digital disinformation and develop a toolkit and an online resource hub. The organization will conduct trainings to help participants identify disinformation online and teach techniques to verify information and detect digital manipulation. The project will also involve the creation of an alliance of journalists and academics that will organize initiatives to counter digital disinformation such as fact checking and media and information literacy campaigns.


Global Neighbourhood for Media Innovation


To strengthen journalists’ skills in fact-checking, investigative journalism, and their ability to identify and counter disinformation in both traditional and digital media. The organization will develop an online media capacity-building project to increase journalists’ skills to counter disinformation and carry out responsible, ethical fact-based reporting. In addition to training for media practitioners, the group will also organize webinars on the dangers of disinformation in digital media and produce videos to promote freedom of expression and independent media.

Digital Rights Foundation


To strengthen digital security and safety for journalists and promote gender sensitive media. The organization will provide trainings on digital security for journalists and advocate for stronger legal protections for journalists and freedom of expression. The project will also include online trainings to promote ethical media reporting on issues such as gender-based violence, discrimination, and harassment. To amplify women’s voices, the group will also produce an online magazine featuring content produced by women on issues of freedom of expression.


Promoting Democracy through Citizen Journalism and Digital Storytelling

Interactive Resource Centre


To cultivate the capacity of youth and civil society activists to use digital storytelling and citizen journalism for the promotion of human rights, civic engagement, and democratic values. The grantee will conduct citizen journalism and visual arts trainings for youth; organize an annual documentary film festival and a conference for political cartoonists; and produce video content that promote democratic values and civic participation as well as highlight human rights issues.


Freedom of Information


To promote freedom of expression and enhance media freedoms through independent reporting and citizen journalism. The project will support a media platform that features independent media reporting, investigative journalism, and digital content produced by citizens. The content will focus on issues of human rights, government accountability, and gender equality that are censored or ignored by mainstream media outlets. In addition, the media outlet will launch digital campaigns on public interest issues such as women’s rights.

Riaz Haq said...

Raza Rumi is a fellow of National Endowment for Democracy (NED), believed to be a CIA front.


Naya Daur is a propaganda outfit setup by NED (CIA front) operative Raza Rumi in order to promote the narrative of “democracy under threat” & pave way for foreign interference in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

#HamidMir has apologized for the speech he made during protest for #AsadAliToor

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #ISI has a record of discovering & breaking #CIA informant networks. #Intelligence services in countries such as #Russia, #China, #Iran and Pakistan have been hunting down the C.I.A.’s sources and in some cases turning them into double agents.

Top American counterintelligence officials warned every C.I.A. station and base around the world last week about troubling numbers of informants recruited from other countries to spy for the United States being captured or killed, people familiar with the matter said.

The message, in an unusual top secret cable, said that the C.I.A.’s counterintelligence mission center had looked at dozens of cases in the last several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised. Although brief, the cable laid out the specific number of agents executed by rival intelligence agencies — a closely held detail that counterintelligence officials typically do not share in such cables.

The cable highlighted the struggle the spy agency is having as it works to recruit spies around the world in difficult operating environments. In recent years, adversarial intelligence services in countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan have been hunting down the C.I.A.’s sources and in some cases turning them into double agents.

Acknowledging that recruiting spies is a high-risk business, the cable raised issues that have plagued the agency in recent years, including poor tradecraft; being too trusting of sources; underestimating foreign intelligence agencies, and moving too quickly to recruit informants while not paying enough attention to potential counterintelligence risks — a problem the cable called placing “mission over security.”

The large number of compromised informants in recent years also demonstrated the growing prowess of other countries in employing innovations like biometric scans, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and hacking tools to track the movements of C.I.A. officers in order to discover their sources.

While the C.I.A. has many ways to collect intelligence for its analysts to craft into briefings for policymakers, networks of trusted human informants around the world remain the centerpiece of its efforts, the kind of intelligence that the agency is supposed to be the best in the world at collecting and analyzing.

Recruiting new informants, former officials said, is how the C.I.A.’s case officers — its frontline spies — earn promotions. Case officers are not typically promoted for running good counterintelligence operations, such as figuring out if an informant is really working for another country.

The agency has devoted much of its attention for the last two decades to terrorist threats and the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, but improving intelligence collection on adversarial powers, both great and small, is once again a centerpiece of the C.I.A.’s agenda, particularly as policymakers demand more insight into China and Russia.

The loss of informants, former officials said, is not a new problem. But the cable demonstrated the issue is more urgent than is publicly understood.