Bol Getting Support From Unhelpful Allies

May 21st, 2015

The New York Times report on IT company Axact has taken the media by storm, especially since it directly involves the new channel Bol. We have no comment on the reports allegations, and will wait to see whether ongoing investigations produce any meaningful evidence. However, a dear reader brought our attention to a very curious piece of news. It seems that amid the controversy, Bol is receiving strong support from an ally that it may not want.

Our readers will remember the name Daily Mail News. No, not the UK newspaper, the more…questionable…one that gained some notoriety a few years ago as being part of an alleged propaganda ring. This is the Daily Mail News that was soon exposed as the source of a fake Wikileaks story which was later strongly defended by none other than Ahmed Quraishi who, as noted by Fasi Zaka, felt compelled as part of his defence to “inexplicably, state he is not an ISI mouthpiece”.

Today, Daily Mail News has published a piece that says the investigation of Axact is part of an international conspiracy against Bol, it’s new media house. The way that the author describes the media group is worth noting:

The Daily Mail’s investigations in this directions indicate that  ‘Axact’ has been contributing to global It sector as a leading Pakistani for the past 15 years without any controversy or  scandals. It only got itself caught in the web of local and foreign conspiracies after  the management decided to launch a mega Media House, with aims and objectives of countering anti-Pakistan media conspiracies and to strengthen country’s ideology and cultural  values  and announced bringing out country’s biggest ever media platform with the brand name of ‘Bol’, comprising newspapers, Radio Channels and  TV Channels, a couple of years back. Axact’s Bol project offered unprecedented salaries and related packages for the journalistic community and production   professionals of the country that was set to reshape and redefine Media Industry of Pakistan with a revolution to the lives of the related professionals.

This is a description that hardly makes Bol sound like an independent and credible news source. But it gets worse. The author then goes on to claim that, yes, Axact was selling fake degrees, but its top management was unaware because this was all being carried out by top-secret RAW agents who were planted in the company.

The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate the conspirators, both from local and abroad, first started planting their pawns in Axact to different slots of the company. Once they were planted successfully as an ordinary software company could never have been suspecting any such mega conspiracy, they started the sinister plan of the online sale of educational degrees from the platform of Axact though these pawns while the management of Axact was told by these planted pawns of RAW that a unique sales promotion program with the syndication of some foreign universities had been launched and that the same would enhance the revenues of the organization. Like any revenue seeking business group, the top Axact management, did not seek any detailed report from the plan devisers as long as the ‘new sales plan’ was generating added revenues and was apparently of no harm to the organization and the State as well and thus the Axact management was later caught unaware by the organizers of the high profile conspiracy.

The Daily Mail‘s conclusion is that the fake degree scandal was a nefarious plot of Indian and US intelligence agencies to stop the launch of Bol, the most patriotic pro-Pakistan media house ever to exist that no one has ever been able to prove has any connection to ISI.

The Daily Mail’s investigations  conclude that the Axact episode and its media handling  has got nothing to do with countering fake educational degrees but is merely a fresh bid to  counter  the launch of Bol Media House and make this media house as even more controversial.

Unfortunately, such “support” is only likely to add to the controversy about Bol‘s credibility – something Bol doesn’t need more of, especially when it hasn’t even launched yet.

RAW supplying missiles to Taliban? Not necessarily.

May 14th, 2015

The News (Jang Group)SA-7

A report in The News of 14th May quotes “highly placed defence sources working with diplomatic assignment” that Indian intelligence is supplying missiles to terrorist Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan aka TTP.

Highly placed defence sources working with diplomatic assignment claimed while talking to The News Wednesday that India is the only country that possesses GTAM-7 currently as its Russian made weapon and no other country of the region is having this type of missile.

This is incorrect. GTAM-7 missile aka SAM-7 aka SA-7 missile is a widely used and manufactured weapon technology with versions built in both Pakistan and Egypt.

The Anza anti-aircraft missiles give Pakistan a response to India’s superiority in modern aircraft — India has a numerical superiority in modern fighter aircraft of more than 3 to 1 over Pakistan. The Anza MK-1, Anza MK-2, and Anza MK-3 surface to air anti-aircraft missiles have ranges of 4, 6 and 15 km, respectively. The missiles are manufactured by the laboratory named after Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program.

The Anza MKI missiles, which have a range of 4.2 km, were manufactured and handed over to the military forces in 1990. It has been reported that the missile was used during the Kargil incidents between Pakistan and India. Pakistan downed two of India’s military planes, a MIG-21 and a MIG-27, with the Anza MKI missiles for violating its airspace on 26 May 1999.

Egyptian technicians have reverse engineered and modified two Soviet SAMs — the Ayn as Saqr (a version of the SA-7) and the Tayir as Sabah (a version of the SA-2). The Ayn as Saqr [Falcon Eye] anti-Aircraft missile system is designed to counter air-ground attack by all types of aircraft flying at low and very low altitudes due to its simplicity of operation, accuracy, light weight, mobility & versatility (either by one man or to be integrated into other overall A/D systems). Also it can be mounted on any combat vehicle, light or armored. Moreover the basic equipment can be fitted with IFF & night vision units.

In 2002, an Israeli passenger airliner was targeted with a SA-7 missile in Kenya and they are widely available and considered a favourite choice of terrorists.

The relatively simple design and low cost of the missile has since led to its wide distribution among guerrilla groups. The cost of an SA-7 can be as low as $5,000.

In the last 15 years, more than 50,000 shoulder-fired missiles have been sold to Third World countries.

SA-7s were reportedly recovered from al Qaeda safe houses in Afghanistan and al Qaeda is believed to have fired missiles at U.S. aircraft in Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the past.

At least 17 terrorist organizations, and 56 countries are believed to possess shoulder-fired SA-7 missiles.


Amir Mir Caught Plagiarising

July 22nd, 2014

amir_mir_20110228Journalist Amir Mir has been caught plagiarising his latest piece for The News (Jang Group) by none other than the original author himself – And it appears this is not the first time!

Amir Mir has copied from The Long War Journal. For example, consider our description of Sanafi al Nasr: “As the leader of the Victory Committee, Nasr is responsible for developing and implementing al Qaeda’s strategy and policies.”

Now here is Mir’s description [emphasis added]: “Nasr, a Saudi national whose real name is Abdul Mohsin Abdullah Ibrahim Al Sharikh, being the leader of the ‘Victory Committee’, is responsible for developing and implementing al-Qaeda’s strategy and policies.

Our description of Nasr is not based on open sources, or on anything al Qaeda has reported. Nasr’s responsibilities were described to us by US intelligence officials who track al Qaeda closely. In other words, there is no other place Mir could have gotten this information, let alone the exact wording we used, other than from The Long War Journal.

This isn’t the first time we have detected Mir doing this. For instance, on April 25, 2013, Mir published a report at The News on Abdullah Adam, al Qaeda’s intelligence chief, who was killed in a US drone strike. His report was printed one day after LWJ published an account that noted the reports of Adam’s death and also provided a full background on the leader. Amir Mir merely rewrote large sections of LWJ’s report and used it as his own, without citations.

And, on Jan. 4, 2013, after the US killed Mullah Nazir in a drone strike, Amir Mir also lifted large sections of LWJ reporting on Nazir and Pakistan’s views of the “good Taliban” vs. the” bad Taliban.” See this LWJ report from Jan. 3, 2013 to understand where Mir got his “inspiration.”

We know for a fact that Mir reads LWJ. For instance, in this piece about the supposed split within the Pakistani Taliban that was published on Dec. 9, 2012, Mir cites and quotes LWJ four times. We encourage him to credit LWJ reporting in the future instead of using it as his own.

The original post is available here:

Like the author, we also encourage Amir Mir to credit his sources instead of cut and pasting from them.

Why Is PTV Promoting Banned Groups?

July 18th, 2014

In 2008, Jamaat-ud-Dawa was added to a list of international terrorist groups by the United Nations. Following the announcement, the government arrested Hafiz Saeed and banned his organisation. Hafiz Saeed and his banned groups are not in hiding, however, rather they are currently being strongly projected by Pakistan media.

Hafiz Saeed interview on Dunya

Hafiz Saeed’s appearance on private media channels is nothing new. What is more concerning, however, is a recent report on PTV.

Why is state TV projecting banned groups? And what does this tell to other banned groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi about how serious the government is about ‘banning’? At a time when government and Army are telling that no militants will be spared, we are seeing extremist groups being projected in media. Even if we can expect such practices from private channels, what does it say when the same is being done by official ones?

Ghazi Abbasi’s Call For Global Jihad

July 15th, 2014

Ansar-AbbasiLike all of us, Ansar Abbasi is angry at the ongoing attacks against innocent civilians in Gaza. While most people are speaking out and protesting or calling for and end to the violence, Ghazi Abbasi is calling for global jihad against Israel. In his latest piece for Jang/The NewsAbbasi requests all Muslim countries to form a military alliance to attack Israel.

To prevent any misunderstanding, Ghazi Abbasi took to Twitter to clarify exactly what he meant:

More interesting, however, is that Maulana Abbasi quotes Qur’an in an attempt to shame Muslims for not only not taking the next flight to Gaza to fight, but for even having their own countries:

Islam makes us one Ummah and expects from us to help our oppressed brothers and sisters but we have divided ourselves in different nations under UN charter  and cannot think of helping the oppressed ones like Palestinians.”

Is this from an article in The News or an ISIS press release? It is hard to tell.

Maulana Abbasi continues in his tirade and walks very perilously close to treasonous statements against the Constitution:

“We the Pakistanis…have nothing to offer because we are first Pakistanis…and then anything (Muslim etc) else.”

Based on his own words, it is easy to believe that Abbasi is actually calling for the elimination of the state of Pakistan, or at least for Pakistan to be subservient to some other state (or Khalifat?)

It should also be noted that Abbasi once again voices his support for global jihad when he praises the militants in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“As has happened in case of Afghanistan and Iraq, if Muslims living in different parts of the world in their individual capacity come forward to help their oppressed brothers and sisters in Palestine they would be dubbed “terrorists” and “extremists”. 

This is nothing new for Abbasi who has since long written praise for jihadi terrorists including Osama bin Laden, even saying that ‘whoever America calls a terrorist I do not call them one’.

The atrocities in Gaza are rightly condemned and it is justified to call for an end to attacks, but Ansar Abbasi is not calling for an end to killing but cynically using the tragedy to recruit for global jihad. There is an important question to be asked which is is why Jang Group is publishing jihadi propaganda during a time when our own Army is fighting to save Pakistan from the same self-appointed jihadis that Abbasi is praising?

Naya Zamana Editor Threatened By Jihadi Militants

June 19th, 2014

The editor of progressive Urdu monthly magazine Naya Zamana, Lahore, Mohammad Shoaib Adil, has reportedly been receiving life threats from religious militants for publishing the autobiography of a retired Lahore High Court judge, Muhammad Islam Bhatti, seven years ago. 

These militants have also submitted an application for registration of a blasphemy case against the editor, who was kept in protective custody by the police for one night. Mohammad Shoaib Adil has said that he and his family are continuously receiving life threats from the unidentified persons. He says his life is under threat and he faces mental agony. Adil is the son of a renowned religious scholar, the late professor Rafiullah Shahab.

For more information:

Does ISI’s Media Wing Have A New Outlet?

June 12th, 2014


The ISI’s involvement in media is usually discussed in stories about motivation, either positive or negative. Lifafa journalism is an open secret. The publication of a list of journalists who allegedly received some payment from the Information Ministry resulted in important questions about official manipulation of media. What has not received the same scrutiny, however, is meddling by military agencies.

Agency support for propaganda rings and well known old websites such as PakNationalists, PKKH, Opinion-Maker and others has long been suspected as the agencies do not even take measures to conceal their involvement. Stories in national media outlets also bear tell tale marks of agency hands too clever for their own good. Sometimes, media men will even boldly publish the actual origin of their reports.

These stories appear at all times, but if you need to set a clock, the most reliable time is soon after some national security tragedy. Following the most recent series of Taliban attacks against military and civilian targets including Karachi Airport, it might be expected to see soul searching about the military and intelligence agencies role in stopping such brazen attacks. However, instead we find in our inboxes stories like ‘What if Pakistanis Don’t Want Democracy’ trotting out the same old anti-American conspiracies and half-baked claims that ‘Civilian periods of rule have devastated the state structure of Pakistan as a whole’ while ‘the military forces are pillar of the nation’s resilience and strength’. If the narrative is old and dusty, though, the website is brand new.

This raises the important question, who are these websites for? It’s hard to believe they are for anyone other than Pakistanis. After all, it is beyond unlikely that the international press is going to be influenced by such blatant pandering to the military. So what does it mean if a country’s premiere intelligence agencies are running what are effectively psychological operations against their own people? And if they are, why are they giving anti-democratic narratives instead of countering the anti-Pakistan jihadi narrative that is fueling the sectarianism and Taliban sympathies that threaten to undermine public confidence in the national security agencies?

‘Pakistan Tribune’ and its anti-democracy narrative are nothing new in Pakistan. It is just the latest in a long history of fake ‘news’ websites like ‘Daily Mail‘ that pop up whenever someone is looking to spin inconvenient facts into fantasy tales. What Pakistan requires at this time are facts, not fantasies.

Anti Terrorism Court Issues Arrest Warrants Against Geo Personnel On Charges of Blasphemy

June 6th, 2014

Anti Terrorism Courts Rawalpindi

Journalists is Pakistan have been killed with impunity since long. Now the Anti-Terrorism Courts are finally taking notice of the media, but it is not to protect journalists, but to arrest them.

ATC judge Tariq Anwar Kasi on Thursday issued arrest warrants against Geo’s owner Mir Shakeelur Rehman, morning show host Dr Shaista Lodhi as well as actress Veena Malik and her husband Asad Bashir Khattak on charges of blasphemy.

This dangerous game against Geo is taking on an entirely new level, and threatens to destroy not just Jang Group, but what is left of journalism in Pakistan.


Over 20 Channels Summoned Over Blasphemy Allegations

June 3rd, 2014

When Geo found itself in the crosshairs, the response from other media groups was sadly predictable – capitalise on the opportunity to bring the giant down, and in doing so grab a piece of their coveted audience. Unfortunately, in their scramble, the media tycoons forgot that throwing mud will leave you soiled as well. Now, Geo is not alone in facing allegations of blasphemy as they are joined by over 20 channels being summoned by a sessions court over claims that they too have committed blasphemy.

Muhammad Ilyaz Qadri of village 71 Shumali had filed an application with the additional district and sessions judge against the owners of 20 TV channels, including ARY, Express, Dunya, Samaa TV, Geo News and Dawn News, contending that these channels had been airing religiously controversial programmes for some time. Meanwhile, Geo News also aired a controversial morning show over which it apologised to people, but none of the other channels apologised and brazenly aired vulgar and religiously controversial programmes.

Qadri contended that the channels, now making a hue and cry over a controversial broadcast in the Geo morning show, had themselves aired similar objectionable programmes. Meanwhile, the Imambargah Dur-e-Abbas administrator has filed an application with the sessions court for registration of cases against five TV channels — ARY, Express, Dunya, Samaa and Ab Tak — contending that Geo TV had apologised over the blasphemous broadcast but these channels neither apologised nor were they proceeded against. The court summoned the owners on June 5 (tomorrow).

Charges of blasphemy can bring a death sentence both literally and figuratively. As journalists, we need to understand that we will stand or fall together. If we don’t stand up for each other, there will be no one left to stand up for us.

Geo Saga Requires Reflection, Not Reaction

April 23rd, 2014

The attempted murder of Geo News Senior Anchor Hamid Mir has rocked the nation, not only as the latest attempt to silence a journalist who reports on sensitive issues, but due to the very serious allegations made by Hamid Mir and others holding the ISI responsible for the attack. As tensions are rising to regrettable levels, though, it is worth taking a moment to step back and reflect on the actual issues. There are two important issues at work in this case that have been in conflict for some time and are once again coming head to head. Those issues are media ethics and freedom of the press.

First let us examine the issue of media ethics. This is an issue that has been debated and discussed since long. In the current crisis, the complaint is that Jang Group (Geo) and its journalists have been airing unsubstantiated allegations as if they were facts. Writing in Express Tribune, Talat Masood says that “is surprising that Geo, a leading electronic channel, faltered and presented a personal allegation as a part of news,” and suggests that “it would have been more appropriate for Geo to wait for the official and media’s own committee findings, before taking any categorical position”.

This is undoubtably true except for one important point – it is not at all surprising that Geo would present unsubstantiated allegations as if they were facts. Actually, it is not only not surprising that Geo would do such a thing, but that any media group would. Haven’t we seen since media gained its freedom initially a veritable mela of unsubstantiated allegations masquerading as facts. Whether the reports contain simple incorrect information or political attacks, the past several years have seen countless examples of unsubstantiated allegations leveled in the media.

During the previous government, the media was filled with unsubstantiated allegations masquerading as facts against the President, Prime Minister, Ambassadors, and other politicians. Some of these were so obviously silly that they appeared to be formed only in the wild imaginations of the authors. Others were supposedly based on heavily on information provided by mysterious ‘sources’, some of which were so unbelievable that they were termed by the Court as ‘incorrigible liars‘.  This brings us to the second important issue, which is freedom of the press.

Despite the abundance of unsubstantiated allegations presented as if they were facts, we never saw the previous government request the closure of a TV channel and legal action against its principals. This is how a democracy works – there are no ‘sacred cows’ that are accountable neither to the Courts nor to the media. Instead, the government responded appropriately by answering allegations with the facts and letting the people decide for themselves.

It should be noted that this website was begun with the same principle in mind: holding media accountable for its own actions in order to convince it to clean up its act. Some in the media did not appreciate facing the same scrutiny that they enjoyed giving, but in addition to being in the media’s own interests, it is also a Constitutionally Guaranteed Right in Article 19 and 19A.

Just as politicians and media should not be sacred cows, neither should any institution, no matter how ‘sensitive’. In the present case, whether Jang Group has crossed a line in making unsubstantiated allegations against ISI, the response should not be to silence Jang Group, but to respond with the facts, something that the military is certainly well equipped to do.

The current tension between the media and military should provide important lessons about media responsibility and freedom: Media has a responsibility to verify its facts and not report unsubstantiated allegations, and those who find themselves in media’s bright lights have a responsibility to respond with correct information, not threats and censorship. Taking these lessons will actually result in the strengthening of respect for all institutions. In a democracy, there can be no sacred cows – not the media, not the politicians, and not the intelligence agencies either.