The fact of the matter is that not only patriotic elements in the media but people at large understand the sinister designs of some foreign powers and their cronies in the media who have sold out their souls to them.
Renowned anchorperson and columnist Hamid Mir in his column carried by
national Urdu daily captioned jasoos idaray aur sahafi (Intelligence
agencies and journalists), reproduced what Mariana Babar had earlier
mentioned in her write-up: “Two persons from MI came to her residence.
After politely introducing themselves, they told her that they were
collecting some basic data about journalists. They had a form with them
with different columns of questions and answers like religion, sect etc.
Mariana refused to cooperate with the visitors and sent them back”.
Only MI could tell the purpose of collecting the above information, but
it could be for the security of the journalist fraternity in the wake of
threats to them. Anyhow, such questions are asked at the time of
census. Secondly, our journalists and anchorpersons have many a time
acknowledged that to collect information they have to have contacts with
the agencies also. Finally, had there been ulterior motive of the MI
personnel, they would not have openly asked the information from her.
Anyhow, after narrating the story Hamid Mir gives his comments:
“Nowadays, some people convey an impression that a few media men are
busy denigrating military under a foreign-hatched conspiracy. Perhaps
Military Intelligence is after the journalists in that regard. But the
truth is that some people in media are committed to upholding the rule
of law and constitution, and they believe that everybody is equal before
the law”. Recently, he has been frequently referring to the corruption
cases against a few retired generals, and in the backdrop of COAS
General Kayani’s statement he is under the impression that military
leadership was trying to protect them. The fact of the matter is that
not only patriotic elements in the media but people at large understand
the sinister designs of some foreign powers and their cronies in the
media who have sold out their souls to them. One may criticize or
condemn the dictators who had trampled the Constitution in the past, but
the present military leadership does not deserve vitriolic.
Some anchorpersons, analysts and panelists have been subjecting the
military to scathing criticism day in and day out in one way or another.
It is very rare that ISPR responds to the propaganda against the armed
forces and agencies. There are some patriotic media groups and media men
who do not have any trepidation and fear from the agents of aliens how
powerful they may be. Hamid Mir has been in general pro-Pakistan and
pro-Pakistani institutions including military, and defended Pakistan in a
forceful manner. But lately, he has turned against military and at
least once blamed Quaid-i-Azam for having announced that “Urdu will be
the national language of Pakistan”, which he thought had annoyed
Bengalis. He has also become controversial because of his recent tone
and tenor. When the issue of his audiotape of his conversation with
interlocutor of the so-called Asian Tigers or Punjabi Taliban came to
light in 2010, quite a few of his colleagues were stunned. Mariana Babar
had also criticized him for his connections with the militants.
In her column captioned ‘Anchor Cast Adrift’ published on 31st May 2010
in India’s Outlook magazine, Mariana Babar started her column with the
excerpts from the transcript of the tapped telecon between Hamid Mir and
unidentified man, arguably interlocutor from Punjabi Taliban. She
reproduced the excerpt of the conversation Hamid Mir had with him
stating that “Khalid Khawaja according to my opinion is not an ISI man,
rather he is a CIA agent, and he has links with the Taliban leadership”,
adding that “Khawaja is a front man of Mansoor Ijaz who belongs to a
very big international network of Qadianis”. Mariana Babar expressed her
opinion in these words: “The transcript was sensational, providing as
it did a motive for the militant group to kill Khalid Khawaja. His
alleged entanglement with militants, if true demonstrates their sway
over Pakistani society…Perhaps all theories about the tape happen to be
partially correct, indicating the coalescing of interests to hound Mir,
irrespective of whether or not he talked to UM.”
In June 2010, many anchorpersons had ditched Hamid Mir, and did not
raise the hullabaloo or questioned that it was an attempt to frame him.
In fact, they were on the defensive so that the government may not
attack on their ‘freedom of expression’ taking advantage of the Article
in the Constitution that forbids insulting and ridiculing armed forces
and judges. Not in the distant past, two anchorpersons belonging to
another channel were caught off-guard and had to cut a sorry figure when
their conversation during ‘short break’ was placed on the air wittingly
or unwittingly about Malik Riaz and Arslan Iftikhar case. Once again
the journalist fraternity and anchorpersons criticized their colleagues,
but once again it was business as usual and they were seen taking
advantage of the media being undeclared pillar of the state. Last week,
in a talk show of a private TV channel there was a debate on civil and
military relations in Pakistan, and a panel comprising retired generals,
journalists, politicians, anchorpersons and spokesperson of movement
for restoration of judiciary discussed the subject threadbare.
There was consensus among the participants that Pakistan faced an
existential threat; therefore all pillars of the state should display
sense of unity to overcome the challenges faced by the nation. There was
candid acknowledgement that in the past persons at the helm of all
pillars of the state had, at one time or another, made mistakes. They
also agreed that those who imposed Martial Laws as well as those
politicians and members of the judiciary who aided and abetted the
military dictators were responsible in equal measure for subversion of
the Constitution. A day after the above program was aired an explosive
device was planted under the chassis of his car. According to another
report, Hamid Mir was criticized by the Pakistani Taliban for his
remarks during a programme regarding attack on Malala Yousafzai. These
are the hazards of this profession, but one should exercise restraint in
carrying out one’s duties.
By Mohammad Jamil.
The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.
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