In yet another attack on press freedom in Pakistan, a prominent news anchor and journalist Hamid Mir has been taken off air over his critical remarks against the ISI and the Pakistani military establishment. Mir, who works at Geo News, lashed out at the military during a protest on Friday (May 28) after one Pakistani journalist named Asad Ali Toor was attacked and nearly killed at his Islamabad home.
Geo News has confirmed to BBC Urdu that the veteran journalist has been sent on leave for some time and that he will not be hosting the popular program, ‘Capital Talk’ from May 31 onwards. While speaking about the development on Monday, Hamid Mir tweeted, “Nothing new for me. I was banned twice in the past. Lost jobs twice. Survived assassination attempts but cannot stop raising voice for the rights given in the constitution. This time I m ready for any consequences and ready to go to any extent because they are threatening my family.”
Nothing new for me.I was banned twice in the past.Lost jobs twice.Survived assassination attempts but cannot stop raising voice for the rights given in the constitution.This time I m ready for any consequences and ready to go at any extent because they are threatening my family. https://t.co/82y1WdrP5S— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) May 31, 2021
In another tweet, the veteran journalist said, “I told them if they arrest the persons who attacked Asad Toor then I am ready to apologize, let alone issue an explanation.” It must be mentioned that Mir’s show has been shelved twice, once in 2007 and once in 2014 for speaking out against the then ISI Chief General Zaheer Ul Islam over a terror attack.
Attack on Pakistani journalist
Last Tuesday (May 25), a Pakistani journalist named Asad Ali Toor was attacked at his residence in Islamabad by three unidentified assailants. In a statement, Toor informed that the attack took place at around 11 o’clock in the morning. When he heard the doorbell, the journalist rushed to open the door. The assailants barged into his apartment at gunpoint and threatened him to step back. They further intimidated him of death if he tried to escape.
The journalist was then reportedly dragged to his bedroom and then brutally assaulted and gagged by the three unidentified men. Toor recounted, “They threw me on the floor hard and told me not to make a sound or they would shoot me. One of the attackers started hitting me repeatedly on the elbows with his pistol butt…I tried to scream but no sound came out.”
According to the journalist, the assailants identified themselves as members of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The attackers questioned him about his source of ‘funding’ and coerced him to shout slogans denouncing Israel, India, and Afghanistan. He was asked to praise Pakistan as he had always been critical of the military establishment in the country.
Hamid Mir’s outburst against the Pakistani military establishment
On Friday, during a large gathering of Pakistani journalists for showing solidarity with Asad Ali Toor, Hamid Mir threatened to reveal the secrets of the military establishment. “Now, if you (Pakistan army establishment) enter our homes with guns and tanks, then, we may not retaliate in the same manner. But, we will reveal your heavily-guarded secrets. And we will reveal whose wife shot whom and who was General Rani in this case,” he warned.
It is believed that ISI Chief General Faiz Hameed had an affair with Aroosa Alam, the daughter of General Rani (the mistress of late Pakistani General Yahya Khan). On learning about the affair, Hameed’s wife had reportedly shot him. Aroosa Alam also maintains a good relationship with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. “If you ever enter our houses, then, we will tell the world why did your wife fire bullets at you,” Mir added.
Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir exposes Pakistan Army and ISI for attacking journalists across Pakistan. Journalists came out to protests after journalist Asad Ali Toor was attacked by Pakistan Army goons. Lies and deception of Pak Army out in open. pic.twitter.com/uAg4TuVGET— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) May 29, 2021
“If you are a man of courage, then, publicly acknowledge that you ambushed the house of Asad Ali Toor. But you are such shameless and cowardly that you cannot accept it. Instead, you claim that he was beaten by the brother of one girl. We are up against a cowardly enemy which believes that we don’t know them. We know who you’re,” he emphasised. Hamid Mir further stated that the establishment is miffed at the media for not giving in to their demands of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel and India.
Hamid Mir has been critical of Pakistani army over ‘forced disapperances’
While speaking to Voice of America (VOA) in July last year, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir hinted at the role of the Pakistan army and its Intelligence agency ISI in masterminding the abduction of fellow journalist Matiullah Jan. At the very onset, Mir accused the Inspector General (IG) of deliberately not appearing before the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a bid to avoid furnishing the CCTV footage which indicates the role of ‘non-civilian authority’ in the forced disappearance of the journalist.
“IG did not come to Court because he knew that the Chief Justice will ask him to produce the footage of safe city cameras. In the footage, it was clearly visible that Matiullah Jan was abducted from outside a school by people who were dressed in police uniforms. They had even used a police car for the operation. They wanted to give the impression that it was executed by the cops. However, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) has refuted claims of any police involvement in the case. According to my information, the civilian government, civilian agencies, or the Islamabad police have no role in his abduction.”
Hamid Mir informed that he was too unsure about the role of ‘non-civilian’ authority in the forced disappearance of Matiullah Jan, until segments of his show were ‘censored’ by those who have been ‘historically’ accused of executing such abductions. “The last segment of my show was about Matiullah Jan wherein I talked with Ijaz Shah since he was the first to retrieve the CCTV footage. … First, they edited the opening remarks about the journalist’s disappearance. Then, I learned that more such cuts are being made to the show. And this was done on the behest of a non-civilian authority… The story became crystal clear to me… The accused are those who have been involved in such incidents even in the past,” he had emphasized.