'Auntie Talk' With Hamid Mir

Oct 30th, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized

Gossip AlertMr Hamid Mr writes in The News (Jang Group) today that President Zardari’s recent attendance at a diplomatic function honoring Turkey raised “disturbing questions”. Upon reading the column, however, it was only learned that Hamid Mir engages in more parlour gossips than a dozen busy-bodies.

Here are the so-called “disturbing” question according to Hamid Mir:

Despite all this political gossip, many Western diplomats were seriously trying to understand the unusual presence of President Zardari on the national day of Turkey. Some Foreign Office officials were telling them that it was not unusual because presidents had attended diplomatic functions in the Chinese and US embassies in the past.

A top government official informed The News that President Zardari had given a goodwill gesture to Turkey for its unprecedented help given to the victims of the recent floods. He also said Pakistan, Turkey and Iran had become partners in 6,566 km long railway line project worth $20 billion.

Many people were discussing whether Turkey was going to invest a lot in the power sector and was this the reason President Zardari graced the national day of Turkey but they were also asking what was the role of a president in a parliamentary democracy.

The presence of President Zardari in a very important diplomatic gathering raised many valid questions in the minds of foreign guests. They were asking their Pakistani friends that if prime minister had become powerful after the 18th Amendment, then why US President Obama is still calling and inviting President Zardari to visit Washington?

They were also asking whether President Zardari was giving signals to the diplomatic community of Islamabad that he was still the most powerful man in the government. They were asking where was PM Gilani? Poor Pakistanis had no answer to all these disturbing questions raised by their foreign friends.

These questions are not disturbing, and probably they were never even asked by anyone. Let’s think about this for one moment, shall we? Why was the President attending a diplomatic function for a close ally that is making some investments in our country? Do we really even have to ask such a question?

Why is US President Obama calling for Zardari to come visit if 18th Amendment made the PM more powerful? President Zardari may have returned some powers to their proper office as part of democratic reforms, but he is still ‘head of state’ and the head of the PPP. The office of President was not abolished. Why shouldn’t Obama invite Zardari for a chat?

These questions are not disturbing, they are banal.

But there is one disturbing thing reveal by Hamir Mir. The so-called ‘disturbing questions’ account for only the final paragraphs in a long column of many paragraphs. What is reported in the rest of the article? It is only the most stereotypical gossips you can imagine. Did someone move to the other side of the room and not shake Zardari’s hand? Was someone whispering in the corner? What did some PML-N say about some Minister?

Is Hamid Mir is auditioning for a new celebrity gossip show? Perhaps he can call his new show “Auntie Talk” because he reminds me of listening to my auntie sit around and gossip about the people in our neighborhood over tea with her friends.

Whatever his intentions, Hamid Mir has only embarrassed himself by writing such a gossip column. Whatever one’s political preference, it must be admitted that a real journalist could easily write a column about any world leader titled ‘Disturbing Questions’ that includes real questions of governing, diplomacy, and politics. For Hamid Mir, though, there is apparently only some parlour gossip. Disappointing, indeed.

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  1. Hi, do read our posting on the topic. http://criticalppp.com/archives/27581. We have titled it “Hamid Mir is everywhere”. Someone said “Hamid Mir everywhere because Shaitan is everywhere”

  2. […] a disappointing move, The Express Tribune has apparently decided to take a page from Hamid Mir’s gossip column in their own newspaper. The article, “Zardari makes an appearance; raises eyebrows“, by […]

  3. Conspiracy Theory by Hamid Mir & SAFMA on “BIASED PAKISTANI MEDIA”

    Plan to use media against media and judges

    By Hamid Mir Sunday, November 07, 2010 11/7/2010 Zi Qad 29, 1431 A.H.


    ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari and his close associates have formulated a two-pronged strategy to use the media against the judiciary and to use sections of the media against the critical media, just to divert public attention from corruption scandals. This dangerous strategy is being run by elements close to Zardari. These elements have started raising a hue and cry in the name of unbalanced reporting and about one-sided talk shows but they have not informed PM Gilani about their anti-media plans despite the fact that Gilani is a major stakeholder in the system. Two media groups have started their “sponsored” campaigns not only against the judiciary but also against all the journalists who are not ready to become part of anti-judiciary campaign. The owners of these two media houses are in contact with Zardari who asked government departments to shower advertisements on these anti-judiciary media groups. The thinking process of Zardari is no more a secret. Every enemy of the independent judiciary is his friend and every supporter of the judiciary is his enemy. Interestingly, some PPP leaders leveled baseless allegations against many journalists of Jang Group and even declared some of them as “Indian agents” but the same PPP is supporting and promoting some elements in the media who are famous for their Track-2 diplomacy with India. Three years ago, former dictator Musharraf was patronizing these friends of India in Pakistani media. Now President Zardari is also supporting these elements but his critics are openly being accused of being Indian agents.

  4. Institutions including media overstepped: Safma Monday, November 08, 2010 Zilhajj 01, 1431 A.H.

    ISLAMABAD: The South Asian Free Media Association (Safma) has resolved to safeguard the democratic and constitutional setup, including freedom of expression and an independent judiciary.

    This was decided at a two-day conference of Safma here on Sunday at local hotel. Media persons from across the country at Safma conference resolved respecting the will of the people and rejecting all kinds of machinations and conspiracies aimed at creating political chaos and bringing undemocratic and unconstitutional changes in the country.

    The declaration expressed concerned about an all-sided institutional, financial and societal crises in a terrorism-ridden country reeling under the unprecedented havoc caused by the floods. Alarmed at strategic and political uncertainty, reinforcing hopelessness and chaos due to an ongoing power-struggle among various institutions of the state.

    Safma took serious exception to the conspiracies and sinister moves to bring undemocratic and unconstitutional changes and overstepping of various institutions of the state, including a section of sensational media, going beyond their legitimate sphere, professional and ethical limits. It also express dismayed at deteriorating quality of the governance at various tiers of governance and across all institutions of the state and worried about a lack of inconsistency in eradicating terrorism and appalled by the insistence on keeping sanctuaries of terrorism as so-called “strategic assets” and not strictly stopping terrorists outfits from operating in various disguised forms.

    Disturbed over the alienation, deprivation and sufferings of the Baloch people, perturbed over continuing inflation and hardships being faced by the common man, especially the people affected by the floods and terrorism, Safma is disappointed over not changing the media laws, especially the Information Law, Pemra Law and Press Council Law and condemn killing, torture and victimization of working journalists by various state and non-state actors, non-implementation of Seventh Wage Board Award, retrenchment of media persons and a lack of protection and insurance coverage for journalists reporting from conflict zones.
    Media persons reiterate full faith in constitutional, democratic and representative system that ensures freedom and fundamental rights, an independent judiciary, a free and responsible media and above all sovereignty of our people reflected through federal and provincial legislatures.

    Safma emphasized the need for evolving a broadest national consensus among all stakeholders on major national issues, such as terrorism, economy (macro-economic policy, state corporations, taxation, non-development expenditure, energy, rehabilitation and reconstruction of flood and terrorism affected), foreign policy, national security and neighbors;

    Crisis of Balochistan and transparent and accountable governance and across the board accountability; The media persons are of the considered view that future of the federation and our nation-state lies in democracy and continuation of constitutional, federal and democratic setup while submitting to the will of the people, which is represented by the elected legislatures and governments responsible to them.

    The state must retain its writ across the land without in any way, allowing state or non-state actors to undermine it, nor must it allow any autonomous sanctuary undermining its sovereignty and international obligations.

    All organs of the state and media must perform their functions in accordance with the letter and spirit of the 1973 Constitution, democratic norms and avoid transgressing their institutional limits while respecting the mandate of the people.
    Both the state and society can face up to the challenges of natural calamities, terrorism, lawlessness, economic meltdown, poor-governance, human and physical security by reaching a national consensus on major policy issues.

    The Safma declaration calls upon promoting the ideals set by the “Charter of Democracy” and building upon the good work done by the 18th Amendment, the major political parties and the stakeholders must agree on a national agenda on, at least, six major issues mentioned earlier: A free media and an independent judiciary are sine qua non of democracy and they must safeguard it.

    Peace within Pakistan and its neighborhood is the essential prerequisite of growth and prosperity and all inter-sate conflicts need to be resolved through peaceful means and regional cooperation must not be made hostage to bilateral disputes as envisaged by the Saarc process that should move towards a South Asian Union.

    Safma calls upon all organs of the state to work within the parameters of the constitution and frustrate any effort at change through undemocratic and unconstitutional means while remaining within their limits, respecting each others’ legitimate constitutional space, people’s mandate and ensuring independence of judiciary, a free media and a transparent and accountable governance.

    All major political parties and stakeholders must sit together to evolve a National Agenda on terrorism, economy, foreign policy, national security and neighbours; crisis of Balochistan, and transparent and accountable governance and across the board accountability.
    All state and non-state actors, institutions, political parties, civil society and above all federating units must join their forces to take the country out of its current predicaments on short, mid and long term bases for peace and prosperity within and without. The state must extend its full writ to every nook and corner of its territory while keeping its monopoly over means of coercion and letting any armed outfit operate from its soils against its own citizens and neighbors.

    Safma calls upon Pakistan, India and Pakistan and Afghanistan to resolve their differences through negotiations and jointly fight against terrorism and stop interfering in each others internal matters. Composite dialogue with India must start without preconditions and Safta be implemented in letter and spirit. Visa regime must be liberalized to promote people to people contacts.

    The government to continue to respect media freedom and the media should observe professional ethics, objectivity and neutrality while improving professional standards.

    The Draft Information Act proposed by Safma in collaboration with various stakeholders be adopted by Parliament to empower people. The Pemra Law be replaced by the Draft Pemra Law and Press Council be formed as proposed by Safma. The government agencies should avoid temptation of selective use of advertisements or other tactics to pressurize one or other section of the media while discouraging monopolies.

    Clear social benchmarks may be set for awarding all advertisements under a corporate social responsibility law. The implementation of 7th Wage Board Award and formation of 8th and 9th Wage Board Awards, an end to illegal retrenchments of journalists, the murderers of journalists and those who harass the media persons must be brought to book. The journalists working in the conflict regions should be provided protection and insurance coverage. The correspondents working in the districts be given respectable wages and the press clubs capacity be built thought official grants from the district budgets.

    Sensing the undemocratic and unconstitutional threats to democracy, Safma, along with some leading journalists, intellectuals and civil society leaders, from the platform of Citizens for Democracy, called upon all the institutions and stakeholders to say no to any undemocratic and unconstitutional change while emphasizing the urgency to evolve a National Agenda to tackle all-sided crises of the sate. Some of the challenges that pose a real threat to our existence as a people and a land, that is sacred to us, are as follow:

    A low-growth-high-poverty equilibrium with lowest tax-GDP, saving-GDP, investment-GDP and per-capita investment on the people with lowest social indicators in the developing world.

    It requires a new paradigm of inclusive and sustainable growth and all out effort in every sphere of economy from the revitalization of high valued adding manufacturing, agricultural and servicing sectors, conservation, exploration and development of energy and water resources, human resource development and poverty eradication, withdrawal of subsidies and expansion of revenues by taxing both rural and urban rich, reprioritization of allocation of resources from military security to human security.

    The drastic reformation or disposing of public sector corporations to get rid of financial hemorrhage, inclusion of the dispossessed peoples and the deprived backward regions into the mainstream of development and empowerment and opening up our eastern and western borders to revive traditional trade routes to become a hub of trans-regional trade and investment across South, Central and Western Asia.
    A parasitic national security state, failing to enforce its writ and maintain peace within and without. It must enforce its writ across every nook and corner of our land while keeping its monopoly over coercive means by completely eradicating non-state violent actors/militias threatening our existence/sovereignty and jeopardizing our relations with our neighbors and international community.

    The menace of terrorism has to be eradicated by all means and in every sphere that reproduce it. It calls for radical reversion of our failed security paradigms that nourished these gravediggers of Pakistan’s otherwise moderate, tolerant and egalitarian and pluralist society. All organs of the state and all stakeholders must submit to the will and sovereignty of the people exercised by the elected representatives of the people.

    Civil-military relations must be redefined strictly in accordance with the letter and spirit of the 1973 Constitution and everything about the security establishment must be brought under the purview of our sovereign parliament. AH institutions and organs of the state must keep in their lawful limits frustrating all machinations and efforts to destabilize democratic setup and rejecting any change through undemocratic and unconstitutional means.
    There is an urgent need to critically reappraise our foreign and national security polices that are beyond our national resources, repudiate peace both within and without, frustrate economic growth and prosperity and keep our people in the shackles of poverty. It requires, in particular, radical revision of our “India-centric”, “strategic-depth” (vis a vis Afghanistan) and “strategic-assets” (of our jihadis who are of nobody’s) types of strategic assumptions.

    The militaristic version of the national security, that failed to provide us internal and external security, must be replaced with an overarching vision of human security, thus, eradicating the causes behind the growth of suicide-bombers, violence and religious extremism; and a rational, smart and cost-effective defense backed by a credible deterrence.

    Pakistan is faced with deep-rooted crises of governance from civilian administration to military establishment, financial sectors to fiscal spheres, generating revenues to transparent and accountable expenditure, delivery of cheap and easy justice and honest and law-abiding policing, respecting citizens’ fundamental rights regardless of gender, creed or ethnicity and empowering people, rewarding merit, entrepreneur ship, innovation and competition while precluding unethical privileges, rent-seeking, bribery and fraud, respecting dissent and granting women and minorities equal privileges of equal citizens and devolving and de-concentrating power to the lower tiers of governance, all-sided and even-handed accountability of all through due process of law, access to and free flow of information and a transparent, accountable and efficient governance.

    It can’t be achieved by totalitarian or fascist regimes and barbaric means or by chasing the ghosts and shadows of the past corruption. Despite granting provincial autonomy and some concessions to the smaller provinces, the federating units continue to suffer from alienation and nurse frustrations, such as Balochistan.

    While progressively and radically devolving power from the Centre to the provinces and onward to the districts and ultimately to the grassroots level to empower our people, the federation and its powerful arms take affirmative steps to remove the grievances of smaller provinces, Balochistan in particular.

    Balochistan needs extraordinary accommodation and amelioration. There are ethnic tensions within the provinces that also need to be addressed by respecting pluralism at all levels to strengthen unity-in-diversity.

    On the other hand, sectarian cleavages are touring apart our social fabric that has been increasingly taking a violent turn since General Zia’s so-called “Islamization” and induction of jihadi and klashnikove culture. All sectarian and violent militias, their cover-up bodies, charities, sectarian seminaries preaching violence and producing hate materials must be prosecuted and banned.

    Instead of becoming a source of national unity, the sectarian forces that pollute the spiritual space have turned religion into a source of discord and disunity. A distinction has to be made between the state and religion and theology and education while respective the beliefs of the people that don’t hurt others’ beliefs and religious practices.

  5. Monday, November 08, 2010, Zilhajj 01, 1431 A.H

  6. Money Talks TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2010

    Mir Ibrahim Rehman (c) at his master’s convocation earlier this year
    Guess who was spotted on November 9 in Washington D.C. at a reception for American and Pakistani media personnel thrown by US AfPak ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s media assistant Ashley Bommer? Mir Ibrahim Rehman, scion of the house of Jang and CEO of the Geo TV Network. He walked in with The Friday Times editor and Dunya TV’s Najam Sethi but stayed long after Sethi left the party.

    Mir Ibrahim (MIR) apparently jetted in for a mysterious three-day visit to the US, during which, our sources say, the main objective was to convince the US administration that Geo was neither anti-US nor anti-democracy, the line being peddled by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government. MIR also wished to gather official American support for the Jang Groupagainst the PPP boycott of the group as an instance of an assault on freedom of the media.

    Our sources claim that MIR did not find too much traction among US officials against the idea of a media boycott, perhaps because the Obama administration itself has a similar boycott against Fox News (albeit without the shoe-throwing rent-a-demos and vile grafitti scrawlsagainst Fox News owners). However, what is particularly interesting about the Jang Group’s attempts to woo the American establishment is the fact that there has been apparently a lot of discussion within the US government about whether it should support and even subsidize a media group that has no qualms about running shrill propaganda against the US, and sometimes even promoting a pro-Taliban line. In particular, Hamid Mir’s contribution to whipping up Blackwater hysteria in Pakistan, Ansar Abbasi’s rants about Western puppets, and the space given to nutjobs such as Zaid Hamid (Aag TV) and Ahmad Quraishi (Aag TV and The News) have apparently raised quite a few eyebrows in the US administration.

    The Americans have reason to be upset with the Jang Group, and MIR has reasons to find their upset unsettling. The running of the banal American propaganda Voice of America (VoA) programme Khabron Se Aagay[Beyond the Headlines] as an ‘advertorial’ on Geo since 2005 has netted the Jang Group and its owners, by some accounts, millions of US taxpayer dollars. Although the exact ‘compensation package’ doled out to Geo by the US government is still secret, it should be noted that the deal between Geo and VoA was mediated during the Bush-Musharraf era by the then Information Secretary Anwar Mahmood and advertising whiz-kid Asif Salahuddin, the latter of whom is reputed not to touch ’small’ deals. Apparently, part of MIR’s discussions with the US administration included those on the future of the Geo-VoA deal.

    Incidentally, while Najam Sethi was ostensibly in the US for medical check-ups and may have been present at the Bommer reception only coincidentally, as we have reported in the past, he too has been trying to persuade American-backed NGOs to fund a new ‘liberal’ channel to be headed by him.

    Coming back to MIR, it seems that more than American upset, a potential threat of withdrawal of lucrative financial support may be the trigger for a panic at the Jang Group. As they say, bullshit may walk but it’s money that talks. I have a strong feeling that you may well see the (media) house line shifting very soon. If you suddenly begin to miss the casual anti-US vitriol in the group’s publications and on Geo, you’ll know why.

  7. Conspiracy: International/National Media VS JANG/GEO TV & Hamid Mir.

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