The Secret Lives of Pakistan's Journalists

May 19th, 2010 | By | Category: Dawn

The Hamid Mir conspiracy case has raised an important issue that deserves some real discussion. The issue is the secret associations that exist within the brotherhood of journalists in Pakistan.

Certainly all people have opinions about important issues, and journalists – by the nature of their work – talk to people involved in all sorts of political activity both good and bad. But Pakistan has a set of groups within the journalist community that have either intentionally or unwittingly been part of political activity.

Ayesha Siddiqa made this point a few days ago, and today Nadeem Paracha continues the examination of the problem on Dawn Blog in a must-read post:

The emergence of a taped conversation, allegedly between famous TV anchor and journalist, Hamid Mir, and a member of what is called the ‘Punjabi Taliban,’ has created great furor – especially within the journalistic community in Pakistan.

In the the conversation, a man recognised by some as Mir, makes derogatory remarks against the Ahmadiyya sect and insistently alludes that Khalid Khawaja – the controversial former ISI man who was kidnapped and murdered by an group that is believed to have ties to the Punjabi Taliban – was a CIA agent and close to the Ahmadiyya sect.

He blames Khawaja for the death of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) cleric, Ghazi Rashid, who was killed in the military action against armed men holed up in the volatile mosque in 2007. He tells the Punjabi Taliban that it was on Khawaja’s insistence that Ghazi continued to fight from within the besieged mosque, but was then abandoned by him.

Khawaja, who was supposedly in the custody of the Punjabi Taliban at the time of the conversation, was later found murdered by his captors who accused him of being a CIA agent and responsible for Ghazi’s death. These are the two main points that the conversing journalist makes while talking to the Punjabi Taliban member in the leaked tape.

Leading members of the liberal intelligentsia have frequently been raising concern and alarms against certain prominent figures in the local print and electronic media, blaming them of overtly sympathising and at times glorifying the violent antics of assorted sectarian and Islamist organisations.

People like Hamid Mir, Dr. Shahid Masood, Aamir Liaqat and Ansar Abbasi (all belonging to a large media group in Pakistan), have come under intense scrutiny by their detractors for not only ‘angling’ their stories and rhetoric in favour of extremist organisations, but also constantly undermining the current democratic set-up in Islamabad.

Ironically though, whereas the liberal sections of the media have not gone beyond labeling these men as Taliban sympathisers, it is their opponents within the large net of pro-Taliban actors in the media and the intelligence agencies who are said to be behind leakages such as the taped conversation mentioned above.

According to well-known columnist and author, Ayesha Siddiqa, “the conversation should not surprise people as Hamid Mir has old links with the Islamists and the intelligence agencies.” In an article she adds that there is not a single journalist, especially on the electronic media, who comments on national security and is not fed by the military or one of its many intelligence agencies.

Author of the acclaimed book, Military Inc., Siddiqa says that at present there are three opposing groups within the military and its agencies. One is pro-West, one is pro-Taliban, and the third is pro-China. All three are always at loggerheads. This also means that while each one of these groups has journalists planted in newspapers and TV channels, they use their plants to cancel out the reputation and influence of those belonging to the opposing groups.

But there is nothing new about this. The agencies have always had personnel on their payrolls operating as reporters, anchors, and ‘analysts’ ever since the Ayub Khan dictatorship in the 1960s. Respected journalist and author, late Zamir Niazi, in his book, The Web of Censorship, suggests that the agencies recruited a number of ‘journalists’ during the Ayub dictatorship, specifically to check leftist sentiments that were all the rage among journalists at the time.

Then during the Z.A. Bhutto regime, Niazi hints that the populist government and the conservative ‘establishment’ fought a battle of ideas through paid journalists. But the phenomenon of agency-backed journalists upholding the military establishment’s agenda and ideology in the press  really came to the fore during the Ziaul Haq dictatorship in the 1980s.

As left-leaning journalists were forced to exit newspapers during the Zia dictatorship, the corridors of these newspaper offices were suddenly stormed by large groups of pro-establishment personnel, mainly consisting of anti-Bhutto journalists and pro-Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) men.

With the role of the ISI and other intelligence agencies expanding due to Pakistan’s direct involvement in the so-called ‘anti-Soviet Afghan jihad,’ many of these journalists were brought under the wings of various agencies, triggering a trend that still disfigures prominent sections of mainstream Pakistani media. What’s more, between early and late 1980s, the agencies were also able to plant men in the administration and finance departments of various mainstream media groups.

I got first-hand experience of this in 1993 when I joined a newspaper of a large media group; my appointment letter was constantly delayed, in spite of the editor asking the head of finance to release it. The head then bypassed the editor and went straight to the publisher, claiming that I should not be hired because I was a ‘communist’ who’d had links with the KGB (as a student) in the 1980s! As it turned out, this man was an active member of the JI, and also said to be close to a pro-jihad agency.

Crowded at the top

By the 1990s, most media groups had become a startling reflection of the tense sectarian, ethnic and ideologically fractured society that Zia’s disastrous regime and policies had left behind.

The media group I was a part of (for 10 years), was teeming with various lobbies, fighting out a cold war against one another. There were the usual high-profile agency-backed journalists who (as Siddiqa rightly suggests) were/are the ones who always manage to get the best scoops; then there was a large pro-JI lobby (whose mission, it seemed, revolved entirely around getting those they deemed to be ‘leftist’ or ‘liberal’ chucked out from the organisation); there was also a pro-MQM lobby who made sure that MQM received as much positive press as possible; and a ‘liberal’ lobby made up of assorted progressives. But more worryingly, the 1990s also saw the entry of ‘journalists’ planted or having sympathies with radical Sunni sectarian organisations such as the Sipah Sahaba.

As the agencies again became active, this time to sideline any democratically elected government that they saw as a danger to their on-going post-Zia maneuvers in the field of jihad (in Pakistan, Kashmir, and Afghanistan), a number of fresh recruits were instilled in newspapers, so much so, that opposing agencies (all with right-wing Islamist agendas, but differing on sectarian and policy grounds), now began drafting ‘journalists’ to put forward their particular version of pro-jihad ideology and interests. The result was infighting in the country’s intelligence gathering and security apparatus as one agency tried to undermine the other in their quest for more funds and political influence.

An attack in 1992 on a prominent journalist (famous for scoring a number of scoops and presently a famous TV anchor) was a stark reflection of this. The journalist, whom many believed was being fed stories by an agency, was claimed to have been attacked by the supporters of an opposing agency.

Such was the talk at the time, heralding the laying down of a whole new ball game in the intrigue-filled world of mainstream journalism in Pakistan. And this new ball game really got going when (during the Musharraf dictatorship) private TV channels were allowed to mushroom. This is the phenomenon that many within the media blame for triggering the on-going ‘anti-democracy’ and ‘pro-Taliban’ narrative one comes across on almost all major TV news channels. Opposing agency men were said to have come together during the Musharraf dictatorship to counter (through their ‘media contacts’) agency people who were supporting Musharraf’s (albeit half-baked) operation against extremist organisations.

Some political commentators point at the electronic media’s role during the Lal Masjid operation and the Lawyers’ Movement as examples in this respect. They believe whereas some TV anchors and reporters blindly lapped up ‘exaggerated figures’ and scenarios that they were fed to them by agency men opposing the pro-Musharraf organs, the game got even bigger when the same anti-Musharraf agencies ‘facilitated’ some political parties to invest heavily in the Lawyers’ Movement.

Though almost all mainstream parties took part in the landmark movement, however, the PPP and some small leftist parties blamed the PMLN and JI of mutating the movement’s orientation towards the rightist sides of the ideological divide, especially when pictures of activists carrying pro-Taliban and pro-Osama placards at the lawyers’ rallies started appearing in (mainly English) newspapers.

Observers believe that if the journalists belonging to the so-called pro-Musharraf factions of the agencies felt themselves being bogged down by those with alleged links to the more pro-jihad factions, the pro-Musharraf strains in the agencies put men like Zaid Hamid on TV – a manufactured pro-Musharraf demagogue originally placed to distract the people from events such as the Lawyers Movement.

Whose line is it, anyway?

Whereas today when the agencies (with the pragmatic support of bosses of some large media outlets) have successfully sidelined whatever there is left of any liberal, secular or leftist thought in the mainstream electronic media, it seems the channels are now overflowing with right-wing media men, many with clear links in the agencies.

But it’s not been a unanimous takeover. Simply because of the mentioned infighting between various groups within the agencies. For example, on surface, it should sound strange and contradictory if one right-wing media personality attacks another, as was the case when Zaid Hamid publicly accused Hamid Mir of being a CIA agent.

But this can easily be explained if one dwells deeper into the increasingly overlapping and complex maneuvers of the agencies. As a fellow columnist recently noted, in a matter of merely a month, two leading media personalities have been exposed in the most dramatic manner. He claimed that Zaid Hamid had dubious relations with a particular faction of the agencies, but was brought down when another faction decided to strike by bringing into play Zaid’s controversial past with a cult-like Islamic group which some puritanical Islamic organisations consider was blasphemous in its beliefs.

Another fellow journalist thinks that the ‘Mir tapes’ were leaked by a different faction of the ISI or IB. A faction perhaps opposed to the faction that Mir is alleged to have had links with.

The most interesting thing is that whereas attempts by the liberal media personnel to castigate right-wing and contentious TV personalities have not gone beyond protest columns and editorials, it has been such personalities’ fellow rightist journeymen who have been out to orchestrate their downfall.

Zaid Hamid called Hamid Mir a CIA agent, but it was Zaid who got his animated TV slots canceled when a sectarian Sunni organisation threatened to attack the channels that so enthusiastically ran the hate-monger’s much watched shows. On the other hand, Mir laughed off Zaid’s accusations but not before (unwittingly or otherwise) providing a platform on his own show for some politicians to make a meal out of another rightist TV anchor, Shahid Masood, only to supposedly have his own conversation with the Punjabi Taliban ‘leaked.’

Much more is being ‘leaked’ (more frequently than ever) to various websites. Recently, a website also put up a list of the outstanding dues that major media groups still owe in taxes to the government. Also under scrutiny are the ideological orientations and ‘links’ of journalists such as Ansar Abbasi, Shaheen Sehbai, and Amer Mateen.

Hamid Mir has denounced the taped conversation as fake. So has the media group he works for. But surprisingly, instead of investigating the level of involvement some journalists clearly have with extremist groups and intelligence agencies, all the organs of the said media organisation have gone into overdrive in attacking some of their contemporary media outlets, the government, and ‘liberal journalists’ of instigating a ‘conspiracy against free media.’

It is true that many of this media group’s ‘attackers’ have no respect for a free media. But by suggesting that the free-for-all mudslinging and dangerous angling that some of its anchors openly exhibit is akin to the group’s love of democracy and freedom of the media is really a self-defeating delusion, if not a big black joke.

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  1. صحافی کے خلاف قتل کے مقدمے کی دھمکی

    اعجاز مہر
    بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، اسلام آباد
    آخری وقت اشاعت: بدھ 19 مئ 2010 , 15:16 GMT 20:16 PST

    ایشین ٹائیگر نامی شدت پسند گروپ کے ہاتھوں مبینہ طور پر مارے جانے والے آئی ایس آئی کے سابق اہلکار خالد خواجہ کے صاحبزادے اسامہ خالد نے کہا ہے کہ وہ اپنے والد کے قتل کا مقدمہ صحافی حامد میر کے خلاف درج کرا رہے ہیں۔

    انہوں نے نامعلوم مقام سے بی بی سی کے ساتھ فون پر بات کرتے ہوئے دعویٰ کیا کہ حامد میر کی جس شخص سے بات چیت کا ٹیپ سامنے آیا ہے ان کا اصل نام عثمان پنجابی ہے اور وہ مختلف صحافیوں سے محمد عمر بن کر بات کرتے رہے ہیں۔

    کلِک ڈیلی ٹائمز کے مدیر متنازع ٹیپ شائع کرنے کا دفاع کرتے ہیں

    ان کے مطابق جب ان کے والد خالد خواجہ وزیرستان گئے تو عثمان پنجابی ان کے گائیڈ یا رہنما بنے اور ان کے ساتھ ان کی اکثر بات چیت ہوتی رہی اس لیے وہ ان کی آواز پہچانتے ہیں۔

    لیکن مقامی ٹی وی کے اینکر صحافی حامد میر کا کہنا ہے کہ انہوں نے خالد خواجہ کے بارے میں کسی شدت پسند سے کوئی بات نہیں کی۔ انہوں نے الزام لگایا کہ حکومت نے جدید مشینری کی مدد سے جعلسازی کے ساتھ ان کی گفتگو کا ٹیپ تیار کیا ہے۔

    جبکہ مقتول خالد خواجہ کے صاحبزادے اسامہ خالد حامد میر کے موقف کو مسترد کرتے ہوئے کہتے ہیں کہ ٹیپ اصل ہے اور وہ اس کو عدالت میں درست ثابت کریں گے۔ ’آپ حامد میر کا دو مئی کو شائع ہونے والا مضمون پڑھ لیں۔ تھوڑی بہت باتیں آگے پیچھے ہیں باقی وہی باتیں ہیں جو ٹیپ میں ہیں۔ انہوں نے شدت پسندوں کو میرے والد کو قتل کرنے کے لیے اکسایا ہے اور ہم وکیلوں سے مشاورت کر رہے ہیں اور جلد ٹھوس شواہد کے ساتھ مقدمہ درج کروائیں گے‘۔

    حامد میر کی مبینہ گفتگو کے ٹیپ کا متن ڈیلی ٹائمز نامی اخبار نے نمایاں طور پر شائع کیا اور اس اخبار کے ٹی وی چینل بزنس پلس نے یہ ٹیپ نشر بھی کیا۔ جس پر صحافی حامد میر نے متعلقہ اخبار اور ٹی وی چینل کی انتظامیہ کو پچیس کروڑ روپے کے ہرجانے کا نوٹس جاری کیا۔

    ڈیلی ٹائمز کے مدیر راشد رحمان نے متنازع کہانی شائع کرنے کے اپنے فیصلے کا دفاع کرتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ ’کہانی انہوں نے خود نہیں بنائی اور وہ اپنے موقف پر قائم ہیں۔‘

    انہوں نے کہا کہ ’ہم نے موقف اختیار کیا ہے کہ کم از کم اس پر تحقیقات ہونی چاہیئں اور اگر اس میں کوئی سچ ہے تو تحقیقات ہونی چاہیئں اور قانون کے تقاضے پورے ہونے چاہیئں۔‘

    ادھر صحافی حامد میر کے آجر جنگ گروپ نے بھی ان کے بارے میں تحقیقات شروع کرنے کا اعلان کیا ہے۔ جیو ٹی وی کے سینئر اہلکار اور تحقیقاتی کمیٹی کے رکن نے بی بی سی کو بتایا کہ کمیٹی نے حامد میر کا بیان ریکارڈ کیا ہے جس میں انہوں نے متعلقہ ٹیپ کو جعلی قرار دیا ہے۔ جیو کے اعلیٰ اہلکار نے بتایا کہ وہ اس بارے میں تفصیلی تحقیقات کر رہے ہیں۔

    واضح رہے کہ مقتول خالد خواجہ پاکستان ائر فورس کی ملازمت کے دوران خفیہ ادارے آئی ایس آئی میں کام کرتے رہے اور ریٹائرمنٹ کے بعد انہوں نے انسانی حقوق کی تنظیم بنائی۔ اس تنظیم کی زیادہ تر توجہ مذہبی شدت پسندی کے شبہے میں لاپتہ ہونے والے افراد کی بازیابی پر رہا۔

    رواں سال مارچ میں ایک سابق کرنل مسٹر امام اور ایک پاکستانی نژاد برطانوی صحافی اسد قریشی کے ہمراہ وہ جنگ زدہ قبائلی علاقے وزیرستان گئے۔ جہاں انہیں ایشین ٹائگر کے نام سے پہلی بار سامنے آنے والے شدت پسندوں کے ایک گروپ نے یرغمال بنا لیا۔ متعلقہ گروہ نے تیس اپریل کو خالد خواجہ کو جاسوسی کے الزام میں قتل کر دیا۔ باقی دونوں یرغمالیوں کے متعلق یہ تو کہا جا رہا ہے کہ وہ زندہ ہیں لیکن انہیں تاحال رہا نہیں گیا۔

    دوست کو بھیجیں پرِنٹ کریں

  2. Kamran Khan [Jang Group]’s Malicious campaign against ISI.

    Jang Group particularly Mr Mahmood Sham (Group Editor Daily Jang), Mr Shaheen Sehbai (Group Editor The News International), Mr Kamran Khan (Senior Correspondent Jang/The News and GEO TV) and Mr Rauf Klasra (Senior Correspondent Jang/The News International) played a very dirty role after the murder of US Journlaist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002. This very same Jang Group/GEO TV is now lecturing Pakistanis for Peace with India had itself launched a Vilification Campaign againt PPP and raised doubts on the Patiroitsm and Loyalty of PPP and President Asif Ali Zardari when they tried to formulate a policy on ISI, Kerry Lugar Bill, No First Strike, and Dialogues wih India. Now read what Jang and Times of India have jointly been saying and Jang Group/GEO TV/The News International have introduced a permanent link on their websites to promote Pakistan-India Peace. Now read as to how Kamran Khan with malafide intent involves Pakistan Army/ISI with Militants while giving an Interview to FRONTLINE PBS an American Public Affairs News Organization.


    Kamran Khan – He is a Pakistani journalist and special correspondent for the Washington Post, based in Karachi. He maintains that Al Qaeda definitely moved into the tribal areas of Pakistan after the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, but that Pakistani officials deny it because they fear U.S. intervention. He argues that at the same time Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has allied himself with the U.S., he also has made an “unwritten compromise” to give more political power to Pakistani Islamist groups. This interview was conducted on Sept. 13, 2002.
    Let’s talk about Al Qaeda since Sept. 11, and what happened to them.
    It has been bruised. It has been hurt, definitely. It lost the main hideout it had. It has lost the main sanctuary. There has been a tremendous blow to the prestige of the organization. So it’s a wounded tiger, I would say.
    [Is it] even still an organization?
    I believe that it’s an organization, as long as Osama bin Laden is alive, as long as Ayman al-Zawahiri is alive, as long as the other key players are still alive. I think, as an organization, Al Qaeda is still alive.
    You think top leaders still in place?
    Yes, Ayman al-Zawahiri is alive; Osama bin Laden is alive. If you talk about the cause and the motives of the organization, Mullah Omar is alive. We have new characters, new players in the game. …
    Many think, after 9/11, Al Qaeda went to the tribal areas [of Pakistan]. What you know about that?
    Definitely they did. Definitely. The whole of Al Qaeda’s moved into Pakistan. First they moved into the tribal areas. Pretty much they are there — even today they are there. There is pretty strong evidence available to suggest that some of the Arabs who speak local native language, the Pashto, that wear native dresses, they look like native people. They are the guest of tribal people in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. I’ve been meeting people who know it for sure in their own areas –there are Arabs living there as guests of some tribal people.
    I would think that some people in the government may also know, have some ideas. But as long as these people are not creating trouble and they are just sitting quiet, the government are not ready to confront them. They don’t want to create a problem for themselves. So they moved into tribal areas, and then they moved into major cities, urban areas.
    The greatest manifestation was the arrest in March this year of Abu Zubaydah in Faisalabad. The key players of Al Qaeda [were] in Faisalabad — Abu Zubaydah and at least 11 Al Qaeda-ers. Faisalabad is a place — it won’t strike you at the first place that they are hiding at the central Punjab somewhere. So that shows that, yes, they moved across border into Pakistan. They moved into tribal areas, and from there they are now moving towards the cities. And we have very credible info that many of the Arabs were hiding in Karachi and in Lahore; maybe other places. …
    What is it about the tribal areas? I mean, people watching this program don’t know what these tribal areas are or what they represent. What is it about these places that makes them such a good hiding place for Al Qaeda?
    They are often categorized as semi-autonomous areas. But for all practical purpose, before 9/11, they were autonomous areas. There was no law there. The law was gun and drugs. These people trade in gun and guns only. There was no other thing. Maybe smuggling. So it was a lawless terrain, completely out of Pakistan’s control.
    These people don’t accept any laws. They didn’t even accept the Durand Line, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They never had any travel documents to go into Afghanistan or coming back from there. So there are tremendous linkages there. These people have no law, no Pakistani law, government.
    And they’re in the same tribe as the Taliban?
    Yes, in most cases. There are different types, but they share the area. They share the terrain. They share the culture, and they all share a very deep, religious leanings. They consider themselves ultra-religious people. Yes, the rest would like to call them the sheer fundamentalists.
    We sent someone with a camera and a list of questions into [the tribal areas] recently. He asked questions of tribal leaders and whatnot, on the record, on camera. And they said, “No, we support the government. We are not going to harbor Al Qaeda.” Why would they say that to us and say something different?
    No, they are very intelligent people; don’t consider them a [naÔve] tribesman and all. They are very intelligent people. They are talking to an American TV crew. They are not stupid. …
    They are serious about the business, what they are doing. There is a fire of remains and settling score with the Americans. Nobody should doubt that at all. That’s why you see this activity in the east and in the south and southeast in Afghanistan. It can be that whatever is happening there is not indigenous Afghan reaction. There has to be some sanctuary across the border. There has to be some supplies from across the border. If nothing, some hideouts. …
    The basic thing, the bottom line with Pakistan is that they don’t want to have an armed rebellion in the tribal areas. They don’t want to take things to a limit where there is an armed rebellion, and there can be, because these people are armed to the teeth. They have heavy machine guns, they have got artillery, they have got light artillery, they have got tremendous amount of firepower with them. So the government of Pakistan is not really to challenge them. …
    So what about the war on terrorism and the coalition and cooperation with the United States?
    It will continue. It will continue, but not at the cost of internal strife. Not at the cost of creating anarchy within Pakistan. Not at the cost of creating chaos within Pakistan. Not at the cost of creating the rebellion from the very strong religious lobby in Pakistan.
    Mind you, this is the army is half a million, a very, very religious [faction]. I mean, these people are very religious. They cannot stand to any notion that the government or army is challenging the people who are religious people, who are religiously motivated people. So the army and the government, General Musharraf, has to be very cautious. That’s why he’s walking on a very tight rope. …
    What was [Abu Zubaydah] doing in Faisalabad?
    He was just hiding there. They were having a very low profile there. They didn’t have weapons, a lot of weapons, with them. They why they wanted to just stay cool there and waiting for their chance to react. …
    They’ve also come to Karachi, and we had an event here [on Sept. 11. 2002]. What happened?
    There were many, many incidents there. The incident two days ago in Karachi, there was an information from neighborhood to the police that there are some suspicious people living here. Police did some reconnaissance, and then they went for a raid early morning Sept. 11. They faced fierce resistance from these guys. They are all definite Al Qaedas in the sense that they are Tajiks and they are Central Asians and two Arabs and all.
    And Yemeni, apparently?
    Yes. That’s an Arab or Yemeni.
    Have you received any briefings letting you know what’s going on in that case?
    They are still questioning these guys. But they have been told that, “We ran from Afghanistan and for the hideout. For us, this is a Muslim country.”
    Whenever these people are caught, they always play Islamic card. They always play a Muslim card. They like to influence their interrogators, and in many cases, they successfully do that. …
    They say that, “We have devoted our lives to Islam and Quran and Allah. So what problem do you have with us?” They usually ask their interrogators, and these people are very confident.
    In most cases, they say, “You can kill us. No problem.” That really baffles their interrogators, because if they are questioning a person who is ready to die, who says, “[If] you release me, you leave me, I’ll go and I’ll hit again.” So that really baffled because an interrogator, to go to an extent to use a third degree, which may put some fear in the person he’s interrogating that maybe he’ll be killed. But these guys say, “Do whatever.” These are very, very hard nuts. You can’t make them speak without the third-degree measures, which are quite common in Pakistan, you know.
    In terms of nationality, who are these people that are coming out of Afghanistan since October and coming to the tribal areas, coming to Faisalabad, coming to Karachi? What nationality are we talking [about]?
    Mostly Arabs. Yemenis, I would say, Saudis, some Kuwaitis, some Palestinians.
    Gulf Arabs?
    Yes, yes, yes. And of course, Pakistanis, and of course, Afghanis, Chechens.
    Are they going home? Are they going down to Karachi in order to catch a boat or–
    Yes. Basically, it’s not stationed to plot more action. These people at the moment who have escaped from Afghanistan — I’m talking about the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which escaped from Afghanistan — is looking for a hideout. It’s on the run.
    We can’t say that they’re sitting quiet and they are plotting, and they have been successful and all. We can’t say that. They are on the run. They really fear that they may be caught any days. There is a great degree of mistrust in the ranks, because they think that the information going out, these raids and stuff, these arrests and all, it may be coming in from within their ranks. So there is some mistrust. But it’s not a very, very well-entrenched organized force at the moment. …
    Any evidence that they’re leaving Pakistan and going back to the Gulf?
    Yes, yes, yes. There has been, yes. The some people who have their passports intact and all, these people have left and have gone off to Dubai. I understand that some people took also boats from Karachi and went off to the to U.A.E. There are several ports in the U.A.E. which you can access without being severely monitored.
    Also, what about Iran?
    Iran, of course. I understand that soon after October raids, there was a request made by some key Arabs to the Iranians in asking for passage. There is a Islamic code under which when some Muslims ask you for passage, you are obliged to provide that passage. I understand through a key U.A.E. diplomat that that passage was provided in the early days, and some people really went out. …
    There is talk we’ve heard that some of the major madrassas in Pakistan have harbored Al Qaeda — the Haqqania Madrassa up near Peshawar, but also the Binori Madrassa here in Karachi.
    I would think that not in the madrassas premises; there’s a major intelligence penetration in these madrassas.
    The ISI is in the Binori Madrassa?
    Yes, yes, yes. They know what’s going on there. But at the same time, you must understand that some of the key people are already with the ISI. I mean, they report back to the ISI. Maybe they are in the forefront of the anti-U.S. campaign or whatever–
    So some of the Islamists are inside the ISI? And the ISI is looking–
    And they report back to the ISI, yes, yes.
    How does that work?
    It works quite good, yes. I think that they have a very reliable penetration source of information. The bottom line here is that, “Look. Whatever you are doing, whatever you do, we understand. But mind you, we cannot afford to harbor Arabs here. We cannot afford to harbor non-Pakistanis here. So please, please cooperate with us on that count.” There is a very deep connections between the religious madrassas, and the key religious scholars, and the establishment. …
    Doesn’t President Musharraf need the Islamists in order to prosecute the Indians? Doesn’t he need them to keep pressure on the Indians in Kashmir?
    So he can’t offend these groups that are akin to Al Qaeda in their sympathies?
    By all means. … It’s also because there are 50,000 strong, militant, armed people. That most of these people have deep connections with the establishment, with the security–
    Security — ISI?
    –operators of Pakistan, the security operators, yes. The intelligence agencies. And they just can’t do things which may provoke them, and which may create an internal rebellion of sorts. Not only that. Of course, these people have devoted themselves to jihad in India, at least, to jihad in Kashmir. …
    A lot of Pakistani security people say that no country has such a tremendous fifth column. You have 50,000 armed people who are ready to give their lives without asking for any favor or anything. These motivated people are an asset for any country with such a massive, such a big enemy. And with such a major problem boiling there. Of course, yes.
    So can Americans trust Musharraf to crack down on his own people to rat out terrorists in Pakistan?
    I don’t know, because my perception is the Americans are basically interested in Al Qaeda — people who were in Afghanistan, who have an anti-West, anti-America agenda. I’m not sure if the U.S. is really terribly interested about the people who were fighting in Kashmir. …
    Yes, but the Americans are concerned, [about] if you have good connections inside the ISI, inside this government. And you’re telling me that the government or that the Pakistani militant groups, the fifth column, if you will, is serving as a sort of bed and breakfast for Al Qaeda.
    In some cases, yes. But there has been a very intense pressure from the government on these groups — I would say not pressure, but lobbying — trying to convince these guys that, “Please don’t have connections with Al Qaeda. Please don’t have ties with Al Qaeda.”
    We have reasons to believe that the key jihadi organizations at their top level have severed their ties. Or they are not really to have connection, ties, with the Arabs, but maybe some breakaway factions doing this.
    Kind of a messy situation to untangle, if you’ve got Al Qaeda and these jihadi groups being tight before 9/11, and now, after 9/11, the Americans pressure Musharraf to sort of untangle this mess. It’s not something that gets done overnight.
    It’s very complicated. It’s very complicated. It’s a very difficult message to convey to these jihadis. But for these jihadi organizations, the focus is Kashmir. The agenda is Kashmir. And they have been told that, “If you have the focus on Kashmir, then you better not compromise your cause.” …
    I think that the government is really satisfied that those groups now understand the language, and they don’t want to be involved in any active anti-U.S. terrorist operation.
    So the line is something like this: If you’re fighting India, you’re a freedom fighter. If you’re fighting the Americans, you’re a terrorist?
    They have been told that you have been fighting as a freedom fighter in Kashmir, then no problem. It all started in 1990. Since 1990 until September 2001, there was no problem. There was no severe pressure on Pakistan to cut ties with these groups, to rein in these groups. There was some whispers here and there. But nothing serious. That’s why it all continued here.
    Why should the Pakistanis fight America’s war for it?
    For its own survival, for the economic reasons, to stay viable. If the country is facing economic crunch before 9/11, and also because General Musharraf, a military leader, wants legitimacy. He wants to survive. He wants to continue as the leader of the country. There are plenty of reasons.
    I’m surprised that you think that Al Qaeda has any capability. My sense is that there’s only a few hundred guys, they’re scattered, they’re in a defensive position and aren’t in any position to be offensive.
    That’s very correct. But it doesn’t mean that it’s a dead organization, it cannot react, it will not react or whatever. The people who are on the run are basically who were in Afghanistan. But the sleepers, the sleeper cells all over the world — it’s not a very tightly knitted organization.
    We are talking about people who floated around, who went to Afghanistan and returned back to these places. But these are people who are now self-energized, self-motivated. You don’t need a central order to act from Osama bin Laden. So we are talking about loose sleeper cells all over the world.
    Even before 9/11, I used to talk [to] people who are supposed to know all that. And they used to say very much before 9/11, that these people are not restricted to Afghanistan. …
    We talked to General Taj of the Frontier Corps in Peshawar. He contradicts you on the tribal areas. He says there’s no Al Qaeda.
    This is his job.
    It’s his job to say there’s no Al Qaeda in tribal areas?
    Absolutely. Because if now, the tribal area belongs to Al Qaeda, it means a direct American intervention. Americans would go mad. They’ll say that “Yes, but you also agree with us, you must move fast. Otherwise, we’ll come. We are coming. We’re going to bomb these places out.” So this is crucial for Pakistan to negate this impression that there are any Al Qaeda in Pakistan. …
    What do you know about the decision to let the FBI operate in the tribal areas? That must have been a difficult negotiation.
    Oh, yes. But they always say that it’s part of the 9/11 agreement which Pakistan had with the U.S., which included providing intelligence, allowing intelligence, technical facilities. They say that allowing Americans to have technical access in Pakistan.
    But that’s what the repeated assertion is from the government of Pakistan and President Musharraf also, that these people — yes, they are doing something in tribal areas and other areas. But their work is restricted to technical cooperation.
    Well, we know that the troops, the [U.S.] Special Forces come across the border, because the border’s not demarcated.
    That’s right, yes.
    Clearly, they’re patrolling inside the Pakistani [territory].
    Special Forces, they come and they say that “We don’t know [whether] this was Pakistan or Afghanistan or whatever.” They come and go and they come and go. Pakistan also allowed this to happen, because it gives them some leverage against the tribal leaders. They tell them, “Look. If you don’t listen to the Americans, I’m going to come.”
    Three months ago, about four months ago basically, the tribal leaders were called and told that if you don’t listen to the Americans, they are going to bomb you out here. And so you must understand this. That’s why this very intelligent face from the tribal leaders. “No, no, no Al Qaedas, no, not at all. We do not provide any shelter. There’s nothing.”
    How come reporters can’t go into this area anymore?
    Reporters can go. But the government says that we cannot guarantee your safety.
    But they won’t let me past a roadblock.
    Yes. They would say that you have to have a government permission, a written government permission to–
    A non-objection certificate?
    Yes, that’s right, yes.
    But I can’t get a non-objection certificate.
    Yes, because they think that if you go inside, you’ll be kidnapped, and you’ll be made another Daniel Pearl.
    You think that’s true?
    Partly, yes.
    You think it’s true that if I went into the–
    You run a great risk if you go inside there. Sure. …
    No question in your mind that Al Qaeda has used those tribal areas as a sanctuary?
    A sanctuary? Yes, absolutely, yes. Definitely. Oh, sure. Yes.
    There’s this notion that Musharraf is holding onto power. He’s quashing opposition parties. At the same time, that’s creating a real valid viable opening for Islamist extremists in the country.
    Except for very few months just after 9/11, the Pakistani establishment and army had never had a direct confrontation with the religious groups or religious bodies. …
    You won’t find now the government having any crackdown against any of the religious groups or any religious political parties. The religious political parties are much freer today than the Pakistan People’s Party, or Pakistan Muslims. Their leaders are much freer than the key, say, the former prime ministers and the former ministers of the government. And now, we don’t find any fireworks from the religious parts against Musharraf. …
    I have reason to believe, that there is an unwritten compromise between these religious groups — erstwhile anti-Musharraf religious parties, and the government. The religious group now are back in action and they are moving freely. They are participating in election. There is no restriction. There has not been a single key religious leader who has been debarred from contesting election. …
    You’re saying Musharraf has managed to do the impossible — to cozy up with the Americans, give the Americans want they want, and at the same time, give more political power and more political space to the radical extremist, to Islamist parties?
    Excellent job. Excellent job. I’ll give him full marks for that. He is an ally to the U.S. and the war against terrorism, and now the religious parties are also not saying anything against him. This is an ideal situation for him.
    It sounds like Saudi Arabia. It sounds like the same sort of power-sharing arrangement that the Saudis have worked out — loyal to the Americans but give the religious extremists full rein over certain parts of society.
    It’s a good comparison. I would say it’s a good comparison. …
    Do you think President Bush knows what kind of arrangement that he’s gotten himself into here?
    Oh, sure. He does, but I think he cannot afford to disturb the situation. He just cannot afford to, because he doesn’t know. Because if Musharraf goes, what comes next?
    But if the Islamist parties become stronger, that’s going to end up biting them back as well.
    My sense is that the Islamic parties, though they have compromised with Musharraf, but they have not lost the focus. And the campaign at the moment is squarely anti-U.S., is squarely anti-war-against-terrorism. It is overwhelmingly pro-Taliban. It is overwhelmingly pro-Al Qaeda. But nobody’s touching them. Nobody’s questioning them.
    So it just gives them time to regroup?
    Yes. These rabble rousers are out there. I mean, look at their statements. Look at their public rallies. Yet, there’s no restriction.
    It’s a funny place, this. I go around, I talk to people. They say, “We like the Americans, we like–”
    This is the whole issue, you know. How can this work? How can you be an ally with the U.S., and you have the jihadi parties, you don’t have that kind of a comfortable tie with the same government?
    And who’s the architect of this?
    General Musharraf himself.

  3. Shaheen Sehbai VS Kerry-Lugar Bill & The News International

    Human Memory is weak so let me revive it!

    The news/editorial below was published in Daily Dawn and it was about The Former, then present, then former and now Present Group Editor of The News International [The Editorial Staff/Owners also think that The News and Jang Group of Newspapers are Anti-American and Prop Pakistan’s alleged National Interests], the one and only Mr Shaheen Sehbai. We all know that Liars don’t have good Memory. Please keep one thing in mind while going through the article below that Mr Shaheen Sehbai had complained about the Falling Standards of The News International in 2002 [the standards fell when Mr Shaheen Sehbai resigned during Musharraf’s Tenure in 2002] now standard of The News International is again risen since Mr Shaheen Sehbai has agin joined and now it can be compared with The New Yorker/ The Washington Post and The New York Times.

    Read and Lament as to how the Educated Pakistan play with the sentiments of those who read newspapers for news. Do read as to what another Seniot Journalist Late Khalid Hasan had to say about Shaheen Sehbai at the end. Also read The Washington Post as to how The News International and Shaheen Sehbai involved/linked Pakistan with Terrorists in 2002. Shaheen Sehbai should be ashamed of himself that after doing this he escaped and took self imposed asylum in USA, the same USA against whom he and his newspaper spitting venom. So Why the hell exile in USA, a country whose Legislative Bill [Kerry – Lugar Bill – State of Pakistan’s Economy and Kerry Lugar Bill
    JOURNALIST Shaheen Sehbai, resigned as editor of The News on March 1 after serving the paper for about 14 moths.

    In a letter addressed to colleagues, Mr Sehbai, who earlier had a very distinguished career with Dawn, implied that the publisher had charged him with policy violations and professional misconduct to sack him under pressure from the military government. He enclosed a memorandum from the publisher alleging publication of libellous matter, alienating advertisers, failing to consult him on important matters, printing a story recently that was ‘perceived to be damaging to our national interest’ and elicited a severe reaction from the government, failing to contact ‘relevant government functionaries’ to discuss the issue, and being generally inaccessible to senior government officials as well his own staff.
    The memo also complained of a lack of improvement in the paper.
    Mr Sehbai said he had answered by recalling that the publisher had informed him of the government demand to sack four The News staffers, including the editor, and regretted that “you have decided to get in line.” He said he was aware that the government had stopped carrying advertisements in not only The News but also other papers of the group and that the publisher had been told that only the dismissals would result in their restoration.

    He claimed that he had been asked to contact the Inter-Services Intelligence officials but had refused on principal to call, or meet, any government official in a ‘hostage’ situation.

    On the other hand, he said, he had conveyed to the government the evidence that the paper’s policy had, in fact, been tilted in its favour. At least 50 editorials and over 100 articles published in about six weeks were cited to prove the point. The paper, he said, had at times gone out of its way to accommodate the government.

    But, Mr Sehbai said, he could not allow a newspaper he edited to become the voice of any government for monetary considerations.
    Dismissing “whatever other issues you have raised” as “childish and frivolous,” he said there was no point in discussing them.
    Recounting management problems, Mr Sehbai also mentioned the “legal jugglery” employed to deprive contract workers of salary increases and the refusal to renew their contracts.

    The episode was described in foreign media as a blow to claims of freedom of press in Pakistan. A spokesman for the government was said to have denied Mr Sehbai’s allegations.

    At The News, no replacement has since been named.



    In Washington we had formed a small group and regularly met at a restaurant that sort of replicated “Pak Tea House” of yesteryears of Lahore. Khalid was always at the centre stage of lively discussions on wide range of subjects there. In his dispatches to Pakistan, he called it “Kabab Masal” group after the name of the restaurant. We rotated chairmanship with every meeting. Several years ago when Shah Mahmood Qureshi came to Washington, it was Khalid’s turn to preside. He recalled his first meeting with him in Vienna while Qureshi was finance minister Punjab. “I had my gut reaction that he is a prime ministerial stuff”, Khalid said. Shaheen Sehbai mixed up this remark and attributed it to Qureshi himself in his report to Dawn. Qureshi was very upset and a clarification was made next day. I told Shaheen: “You have perhaps permanently destroyed Qureshi’s career in the PPP.’ When Ms.Bhutto named him as ARD’s candidate to the office in 2002, I recounted this episode to him in the presence of Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. He was again in the reckoning when PPP won elections last year.


    Nafisa Hoodbhoy [Former Correspondent of Daily Dawn – Courtesy: Online NewsHour


    The Washington Post – Sunday, March 10, 2002; Page B01 Section: Outlook – Missing Links : There’s Much More To Daniel Pearl’s Murder Than Meets the Eye By Nafisa Hoodbhoy [INTERNET LINK IS DEAD
    AMHERST, Mass.–Nine days ago there was an alarming indication of upheaval in Pakistan — a crackdown on the press. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the government pressured the owner of an influential English language newspaper, the News, to fire four journalists. One of them, the paper’s editor, Shaheen Sehbai, said the trouble started after his newspaper reported a link between the prime suspect in the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and recent attacks on the Indian parliament in Delhi and in the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar.
    Daniel Pearl – South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, was an American Jewish journalist who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in Karachi, Pakistan in 2002.

    When Sehbai asked the paper’s owner to identify who wanted to sack them, Sehbai said he was told to see officials at the ISI, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Instead he resigned and left for the United States.


    Group Editor of The News International, Mr Shaheen Sehbai
    Now read the words of Mr Shaheen Sehbai in the light of his suddenly found ‘concerns for the National Security of Pakistan’ in connection with the Conditions of Kerry-Lugar Bill. Do note his language against the Pakistani Military Establishment in 2002.

    Three weeks ago, I resigned as editor of Pakistan’s most influential English daily, the News. My proprietor had directed me to apologize to the chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for my decision to publish details of a confessional statement by Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect in the abduction and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. I was the first local journalist Danny contacted last year when he arrived in Karachi to cover Pakistan, and America’s war against terror, the latest dimension of which was seen in Sunday’s attack on a church in Islamabad.

    Never lacking for audacity, the ISI first broke into our newsroom on Feb. 17 to detect our story on Sheikh, in which he linked the ISI directly to his involvement in last December’s terrorist attacks on India’s Parliament. With such embarrassing information coming from one of their own kind — Sheikh had, after all, turned himself in for interrogation to his former ISI handler on Feb. 5, a week before Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, visited Washington — the regime’s principal information officer called me at 1 a.m. and demanded I pull the piece.

    When his coercion failed, my proprietor in London was called. He tried to stop publication, but failed, and the next day the government pulled all its advertising — accounting for over half our income — in an effort to silence my paper completely. Then they asked the owner to sack me, as well as three other senior journalists.

    I resigned rather than be part of a conspiracy to mislead Pakistan’s people. Fearing for my safety — and with the Pearl case fresh in mind — I chose to join my family in Virginia and live to fight another day.
    And fight we must. This media management is the first sign of where Gen. Musharraf’s newly tactful ISI is headed. “Managing” politics and rigging October’s elections are next on the agenda. There are signs that a political party is being put together to legitimize Gen. Musharraf as an all-powerful president, to stay in office well beyond any reasonable time-frame.
    Games we have seen so many times are underway in Pakistan again. I’m not talking about cricket with India, but about an effort to manipulate the press, to usurp the right to fair elections, and to hide Islamists under a presentable wrap. (Only last week, Gen. Musharraf released most of the arrested Taliban activists and their fanatic leaders.)

    The primary instrument of change in achieving this devil’s pact is Gen. Musharraf’s recasting of the ISI as a more docile institution, ostensibly purged of Islamist hard-liners and Taliban sympathizers. But buyers beware.

    Another intelligence disaster now looms. Its similarities to the Zia days are remarkable. Gen. Musharraf, the military dictator of the day, is the new darling of the West fighting the new enemy in Afghanistan. Billions of American taxpayer dollars are again set to flow. A beautiful facade has been crafted for external consumption, on everything from press freedoms and elections to a corruption-free economy and an Islamist-free state. The reality is harshly different.

    The ISI has been assigned the task of recruiting representatives for this effort. They are to cajole and coerce the press and politicians. Key leaders from the political parties of both former prime ministers — Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif — are being lined up for pre-approval. The Islamist role will be safeguarded by fundamentalist generals.
    A full dress rehearsal of this methodology was carried out during the recently concluded countrywide polls for mayors and deputy mayors. Every city, big or small, had a pre-selected mayor. In Pakistan’s military stronghold, Rawalpindi, ISI interference in seating a pre-approved candidate was so blatant that the non-political but highly compliant chamber of commerce president was “elected” mayor against better-known political stalwarts.
    Pakistan has played crucial roles in two of the main victories of our era — those over communism and terrorism. The first time, the West looked away while evil forces were born in our midst, destroying our culture and society. The moderate majority was silenced into submission until the world woke up on Sept. 11.

    The warning signs are there again. America must invest its political and financial capital in institutions, not individuals. The American people and their elected representatives must not look the other way again. Freedom of the press is under siege. The promised return of democracy is being systematically compromised. American aid is being used to achieve dubious objectives. And the poor people of Pakistan, in defense of whom the ISI and Gen. Musharraf have made their last stand, may once again lose whatever is left of a country that can still be great. (By SHAHEEN SEHBAI )Courtesy: Pakistan Punch

  4. Jang Group & Veracity of Transparency International & IRI Survey. Mob of Kamran Khan i.e. Mr. Ansar Abbasi, Mr Shaheen Sehbai, Mr. Irfan Siddiqui and Mohammad Malick are usually very fond of the reports of Transparency International and Survey of International Republican Institute (IRI) particularly when they carry “Corruption Reports on Pakistan. Quite funny isn’t it that the same group often raise hell against US Central Intelligence, Mossad and countless others and these very journalists “conveniently” forget that such surveys/reports could be a brainchild of the Organizations on the payrolls of the same US Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad. One of the Professional Colleague Mubashir Luqman openly said Transparency International an Israeli/CIA Agent:)

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