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:

https://youtu.be/-VuMWVKChE0



Comments

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 https://aje.io/hsrwce


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.

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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.


Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's ISI wins apology over claim it shot Hamid Mir

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27579356

"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
https://youtu.be/OfxwDXcwiGs via @YouTube
Riaz Haq said…
Asad Toor Affair: Exposed Unprofessionalism of Pakistani Media

https://www.globalvillagespace.com/asad-toor-affair-exposed-unprofessionalism-of-pakistani-media/


What will be remembered as the “Asad Toor Affair” has badly exposed the unprofessionalism and moral bankruptcy of Pakistani media, civil-military fault lines of the country, and helplessness of Pakistani state institutions in handling the challenges of globalization and cyberspace.

The net result is that 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”.

Given Pakistan’s civil-military divide and heroism attached with being “anti-establishment,” no one in the media bothered to critically examine and understand the actual sequence of events and the veracity of claims being made by an irresponsible character and his loudmouth supporters. Truth, as usual, was the first casualty of this phony war between “Journalism and the State.”

---------------

Though most in media attacked by Mr. Toor ignored him considering it a waste of time given lack of effective law enforcment. Nevertheless in 2017, prominent TV Anchor and journalist, Rauf Klasra, filed a defamation suit against him, and after three long years, or 36 months, he was awarded a mere Rs. One million in damages. Mr. Toor has appealed since then, and Mr. Klasra morally vindicated or perhaps disappointed has probably lost interest – given the unending labyrinthine legal system. This once again proves the total futility of whatever is referred to as “defamation laws of Pakistan. Hundreds of cases are pending in Pakistani courts without any logical conclusion.

------------------


But unfortunately, the account was so bizarre that few wanted to believe it. The event led to juicy discussions, articles floating on social media, vlogs, and heated arguments on Twitter Spaces. Most had heard and sincerely believed that ISI agents have in recent years picked up journalists on streets, taken them to safe houses, and grilled or roughed them.

But no one was willing to believe that ISI or any intelligence agency that comes to give you “bruised arms” also makes a public announcement and then leaves you free to record a video that goes viral within minutes. This obvious “weakness” this “credibility gap” in the allegation even dampened the spirits of some of his “support brigade.”

Now a passionate supporter, Ms. Gul Bukhari, has jumped in the fray to fix this “credibility gap” by recording a video, from somewhere outside Pakistan, to explain why poor Toor had been misled to blame ISI. She claims, with supreme confidence, that it has been conclusively discovered that ISI did not beat Mr. Toor but this assault was done by Military Intelligence (MI) along with a prominent TV Anchor, Imran Khan Riaz. And they have staged the drama to put it on ISI. Why another premier state institution like MI, that remains hidden from public eye, will conspire against ISI is never explained in Ms. Bokhari’s twisted world of Harry Potter and Ministry of Magic.

Ms. Bukhari, known for her anti-state views, claimed that out of three intruders, two were from MI (sent by a Colonel) and one was a personal servant of Anchor Imran Khan Riaz.
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”.

https://twitter.com/MoeedNj/status/1399673886103552003?s=20
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.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/215360/irresponsible-journalism-must-end/


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

https://youtu.be/dSu75_zjLfo


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’?


https://www.dawn.com/news/1559298


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…
How a Top Pakistani Journalist Encouraged a Militant Commander to Kill a Former Official | HuffPost

by Afghan Journalist Abdulhadi Hairan

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-a-top-pakistani-journ_b_577732

Mir also repeatedly asks the caller to crosscheck Khawaja for his contacts with the CIA and being an agent of the international network of Ahmadiyya; and says that in his opinion Qadiyanis (the Ahmadiyya) are ‘worse than kafirs (the non-believers),’ thus encouraging the militant commander to kill him.

And worse, it seems that he is doing this just because he has some personal grudges with the murdered Khwaja. In the conversation, he says that he was expelled from the Daily Ausaf, an Urdu newspaper published from Islamabad, because of Khwaja.

A leading Pakistani newspaper, the Daily Times, has noted the following points of interest in the conversation:

• Hamid Mir’s disparaging attitude towards Qadiaynis (in his own words, he considers them worse than kafirs) • His nonchalance when suicide bombings or the looting of Nato trucks are mentioned • Mir’s repeated references to occasions where Khwaja has personally ‘betrayed’ him (he holds Khawaja personally responsible for his departure from the daily Ausaf) • The high degree of reverence with which Mir refers to Ghazi Rasheed, Javed Paracha and other terrorists, including Abdul Rahman Kennedy


---------------------
It was long speculated that Pakistani journalists (particularly the Urdu media), on the line of their military and intelligence sponsors, had ties with militant networks in the country and had an important role in promoting extremism and militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. People like Hamid Mir and Rahimullah Yousafzai, who played roles as the most effective ‘propaganda voices’ for the extremist networks, are believed to be on the payroll of Pakistan’s secret intelligence agency, ISI, which is accused of providing support to terrorist groups around the world.

-----

Then the caller asks about Khalid Khwaja, a former official of Pakistan Air Force, who was kidnapped some time ago in Waziristan by a group called ‘Asian Tigers.’ The man asks if Khwaja was an ISI agent, to which Mir answers that he was actually a CIA agent and was working for an international network of Qadiyanis (Ahmadiyya Muslims), followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadiyan, who have been executed in Pakistan for their religious views.

Khalid Khwaja was kidnapped by South Waziristan based-militants along with another former ISI official Sultan Amir Tarar, known as Colonel Imam, and a British-Pakistani journalist Asad Qureshi sometime back. Later, the militants killed Khwaja and released Imam and Qureshi, apparently because the North Waziristan-based Afghan Taliban mediated for them. The conversation between Hamid Mir and the unknown Taliban commander seems to have taken place before the execution of Khwaja.

At the point of mentioning Khwaja, the caller identifies himself as someone from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), based in South Waziristan, and indicates that he needs the information to crosscheck the abducted Khwaja and use it for his execution. Mr. Mir suddenly starts flowing information about Khawaja’s contacts with CIA and his and his wife’s ‘negative’ role in the Red Mosque incident in the Pakistani capital.

Mir tells the man on the other end of the phone how Khwaja and his wife betrayed Maulana Abdul Aziz into wearing a burqa and got him arrested by coming out of the mosque escorted by female students. In the conversation Mir praises Ghazi Abdul Rashid, Aziz’s brother, who was killed in the operation, for his bravery and jihad and the militants who loot or burn down Nato supplies in Pakistan. He also admires the work of a Kohat-based extremist leader, Javed Ibrahim Paracha, who had played a very active role in triggering deadly Shiite-Sunni fighting in the area, has been accused of killing many Shiites and protecting and sheltering hardcore extremists.
Riaz Haq said…
Long list of Pakistani grant recipients from NED (National Endowment For Democracy), a well-known CIA front:

https://www.ned.org/region/asia/pakistan-2020/

The list includes several journalist organizations.

Media Matters for Democracy

$125,000

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

$40,000

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

$66,500

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

Supplement$73,000

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.

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Freedom of Information

$100,000

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.

https://www.ned.org/fellows/mr-raza-ahmad-rumi/

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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.

https://twitter.com/KhurramDehwar/status/1334236583717986304?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
Hamid Mir has apologized for the speech he made during protest for Asad Ali Toor

https://youtu.be/wGXTHUZQXs4

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