Top Secret: ISI Media Roll of Dishonour

by admin

Pakistani Media Noise Machine (Photo credits: Pakistan Media Watch)

Disclaimer: This post is based on my personal research and understanding of the military establishment’s strategies and tactics in Pakistani media, which I am publishing for the information and well being of the Pakistani nation. However, the post does not represent an official policy of the LUBP.


While in his post titled “The ISI media’s two pronged strategy: From Ahmed Quraishi to Azhar Abbas”, Abdul Nishapuri refrained from providing a detailed list of operatives in the ISI media network, the present post clearly identifies the individuals who in my honest assessment are currently providing wonderful services to Pakistan’s almighty military establishment.

In principle, I agree that the ISI media network carefully operates at two levels, front end and back end, however, in my view there are further categories within each level which must be considered. The ISI media roll of (dis)honour is described below:

Front End

Level 1(a) – Visible First-Line Operatives

Zaid Hamid
Ahmed Quraishi

Level 1(b) – Invisible First-Line Operatives

Mohsin Baig
Moin Ansari
Dr Shahid Qureshi
Syed Adeeb
International Professor Earthman

Level 2 – Senior Experts

General Hamid Gul
General Asad Durrani
General Aslam Beg
Ikram Sehgal

Level 3 – Professional Journalists

Shaheen Sehbai
Dr Shahid Masood
Dr Shireen Mazari
Kamran Khan
Hamid Mir
Javed Chaudhry
Orya Maqbool Jan
Mushtaq Minhas
Saleem Bukhari
Irfan Siddiqi
Ansar Abbasi
Tariq Butt
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
Mohammad Ahmed Noorani

Back End

Level 4 – Refined

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman
Majeed Nizami
Syed Talat Hussain
Syed Mushahid Hussain
Syed Iqbal Haider
Dr Mubashir Hasan
Azhar Abbas
Dr Moeed Pirzada
Roedad Khan

Level 5 – Better Camouflaged

Mosharraf Zaidi
Ejaz Haider
Zafar Hilaly
Tahira Abdullah
Adil Najam
Some minor ‘civil society’ blogs

Level X – Aspiring Operatives (currently undefined)

Meher Bokhari
Atiqa Odho
Maria B
Ali K Chishti

Update: I tend to agree with Omar (see comments section below) that some people in this list may not be receiving actual instructions or orders or paychecks from the ISI, but may be a part of the same socio-economic and ideological bandwagon, i.e., “Pakistani establishment”. In other words, most of them may be enjoying material or/and non-monetary benefits of their links with the military establishment.

35 Comments to “Top Secret: ISI Media Roll of Dishonour”

  1. Related posts

    Pakistani Taliban Union of Journalists (PTUJ)

    In rejection of pseudo-liberals of Pakistan

    The ISI media’s two pronged strategy: From Ahmed Quraishi to Azhar Abbas

    ISI’s investment in Pakistani blogsphere

    Mohsin Baig’s Online-International News Network: A news ‘agency’ you can trust!

    A glaring example of how ISI dictates Pakistani newspapers: The case of a missing WikiLeak cable

  2. Here comes the most recent example of how agencies and their defendants operate:

    I in his column “Fabricated nonsense” (December 14), Ejaz Haider spoke about the intelligence of intelligence agencies. This was in reference to WikiLeaks and the argument was that the agencies might not be so dumb as to have taken part in the fake leaks. Why would they make such obvious mistakes? But then the simplest plot can be the most complex. Since the afternoon of December 12, I have been receiving phone calls from concerned friends and family members. The subject of concern: a baseless and vicious SMS being circulated against me. It seems like the work of someone who would have the power to access my phone call history and more. In typical agency style, the Ufone number, from which the message was sent, does not respond if you try to call back. I would personally like to glean all the information that the accuser seems to have against me.

  3. Newspaper editors have condemned a robbery at a journalist’s house, allegedly carried out by the intelligence agencies, and urged an investigation into the incident. Sirmed Manzoor, the chief coordinator of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), said at a seminar held at SAFMA that his computers and passports had been stolen. He said he believed that intelligence agencies were behind the robbery.
    Speakers urged the media to pay greater attention to incidents in which the intelligence agencies were accused of harassing journalists or other citizens. Najam Sethi, the editor of The Friday Times, criticised the government for doing nothing in Manzoor’s case. “If the agencies think they can keep us quiet it’s wishful thinking,” he said. Sethi said the influence of the agencies could be gauged by the fact that the Supreme Court had made minimal progress in securing the release of missing Baloch people believed to be secretly detained by the intelligence agencies. Khalid Chaudhry, the editor of Urdu daily Aaj Kal, said that media houses were guilty of propagating the establishment’s views on security and foreign affairs issues rather than building an independent, unbiased view. Arif Nizami, the publisher of Pakistan Today, said the media ignored a whole spectrum of issues because it was full of “embedded journalists” who were working on the establishment’s agenda. Imtiaz Alam, the president of SAFMA, said he would write to the authorities seeking justice for Manzoor. He said there was a lot of discussion about politicians being held accountable, but there was a real need for the army and intelligence agencies to be made accountable to the people.

    Journalists condemn harassment by spooks
    October 20, 2010

  4. How effectively you described that how media propagating. Whatever you said possibly true but it’s nothing to do with country development. The currently government do have any policy to run Pakistan. All they doing is corruption from hajj to steelmill. I havnt seen any single completed project in karachi. The govt. Is failed to deliver.

  5. @Asif

    I am glad that you liked the post.

    Feel free to write an article critical of the current government’s performance, we will be happy to publish that.

  6. Cross-posting my comment from Ayesha Siddiqa’s interview thread:

    In my view Dr. Siddiqa hits the nail on the head: “The media was always connected with the establishment. We must not forget that the first papers were established with the help of the state. Later, some papers acquired a leftist tone mainly due to the state acquiring a different shade.”

    This explain why certain left looking media persons and blogs are in fact just another shade of the establishment to propagate an anti-politician and pro-deep state narrative.

  7. Ayaz Amir in today’s Jang

    شروع میں کیانی اور زرداری میں تعلقات اتنے اچھے نہیں تھے مگر بعد میں شاید جنرل کیانی نے ناگزیر سے نباہ کرنا سیکھ لیا مگر ہمارے میڈیا کے بہت سے شہباز ِ ہفت آسماں اس عالم ِآب و گلِ سے آشنا نہیں ہوئے ہیں اور، ان کا نام لینا تو مناسب نہ ہو گا، وہ ابھی بھی ایوانِ صدر پر آسمان ٹوٹتا ہوا دیکھ رہے ہی۔

    گیارہ گم شدہ افراد کے بارے میں ایجنسیوں کا دیا گیا بیان ظاہر کرتاہے کہ اُن سنگین جرائم میں ملوث افراد کو سیکورٹی ایجنسیوں نے نہیں بلکہ ’ جاسوسوں ‘ نے جو سیکورٹی اہلکاروں کے بھیس میں تھے، اچک لیا اور اس علاقے میں لے گئے جہاں فوج دہشت گردوں کے خلاف کارروائی میں مصروف ہے۔ آپریشن کے دوران فوج معجزانہ طور پر اُن گیارہ افراد کو گرفتار کرنے میں کامیاب ہو گئی اور اب اُن پر فوجی عدالت میں مقدمہ چلے گا۔ جہاں تک تخلیقی ادب کا تعلق ہے تو یہ شہ پارہ بے مثال ہے مگر اسے حقیقی زندگی میں دیکھنا ہمارے ان اداروں ، جن کو ہم تربیتی اور تنظیمی طور پر بہترین سمجھتے ہیں اور جو ہماری قومی سلامتی کے محافظ ہیں ، کی کارگزاری کی افسوس ناک جھلک پیش کرتا ہے۔ اگر ایسا ہی ہے تو پھر ہم اس سے کہیں زیادہ سنگین خطرات میں گھرے ہوئے ہیں جتنا کہ ہم سمجھتے ہیں۔

    اپنے من کے سب مہاراج….ایازا میر

  8. Two opposing views:

    Cyril Almieda
    via Dawn:

    The rumours swirling around the news agency which put the fake WikiLeaks cables on the wire are well known, as is the reputation of the `newspaper` from where the story originated — and yet the story found its way to the front pages of newspapers and as headlines news on TV. How?

    Why the easy gullibility on such matters? Imagine if the content had been reversed and the stories were about Pakistani generals. Still think the fake cables would have been headline news?

    Actually, you don`t even have to imagine. The real cables have contained damaging enough details, and yet the media narrative has focused on the foibles of the politicians. The coverage of the cable in which Gilani suggested the politicians would protest drone strikes in parliament and then ignore them has been particularly telling.

    Read through all the coverage of that cable and try finding anything anywhere which suggests a small-time politician elevated to the slot of prime minister because he was deemed to be the right amount of spineless could possibly authorise American missiles to rain down in Pakistani territory.

    Everyone knows there is only one institution with the power to make such decisions in Pakistan. But good luck finding even a hint of that reality in the breathless and shocked reports on the drone-strikes cable.

    Yes, the Invisible Soldiers are on the march again, but, even more dangerous, sometimes it`s hard to tell if you`re looking at one.

    Mosharraf Zaidi
    via Twitter (15/12/2010):


    really tired of attacks on the Pakistani media that keep focusing on the obvious fallacies and mistakes it makes–ignoring all the good.

    so let’s keep dissecting everything haters say; but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Pakistani media is a force for good.

  9. While blacking out Shia genocide in various parts of Pakistan and the Parachinar blockade, Pakistani urban middle class criticizes Indian media for blackout on abuses in Kashmir

    Pakistani bloggers’ blackout on Shia killings

    An open letter to Talat Hussain: Will you lead a Freedom Flotilla to stranded Shias in Pakistan’s Gaza, Parachinar?

    Finally, ISI openly blockades Shias in Kurram to enforce their subservience to Taliban

  10. From a popular Pakistan blog (pkpolitics)

    smsupportmovement said:

    کچھ ان کے لیے جو اس فورم پر برداشت ، رواداری ، تنوع اور روشن خیالی تلاش کرتے ہیں
    صاحبو ، کس گمان میں ہو؟ جو یہاں لکھتے ہیں وہ اس پاکستان کو جانتے تک نہیں جو محمد علی جناح نے بنایا تھا ، یہ اس ملک کے باسی ہیں جو ضیاالحق شہید نے تعمیر کیا تھا اور جس کا خواب سید ابولاعلیٰ مودودی نے دیکھا تھا، وہ ملک جہاں برداشت ، رواداری ، تنوع اور روشن خیالی کے سومنات اب توڑے جا رہے ہیں، دیکھو آج کے محمود غزنویوں نے رحمان بابا ، بری شاہ لطیف ،داتا گنج بخش اور بابا فرید کے بتوں کا کیا حشر کیا ہے ؟ بعید نہیں کہ آنے والے دنوں میں میلہ چراغاں پر خون کے دئیے جلیں اور بلھے شاہ کے عرس پر سروں کا رقص ہو ، سو یہ فورم بھی اسی ملک کا ہے ، کیوں پانی میں مدھانی چلاتے ہو ، برداشت ، رواداری ، تنوع اور روشن خیالی کی جنس اس بازار میں نہیں بکتی وہاں جاؤ جہاں کوئی ایک آدھ شخص اس جنس کے عنقا ہونے پر نوحہ کناں ہے ، جاؤ بھائیو جاؤ ، اپنے خوابوں کی تعبیر کہیں اور تلاش کرو

  11. Bol k Lub Azad HAin terey !

    Good Research Excellent Post ! very true Opinion !

  12. To play devil’s advocate here, what about the possibility that a lot of these people are not receiving actual instructions or orders or paychecks from aabpara, but are simply part of the same social, economic and ideological grouping, i.e the core “Pakistani establishment”, hence they write what looks like ISI propaganda because they actually believe in, and live in, that worldview; thats what they hear from friends, that is what they discuss in their think tanks, that is what they teach in their lectures, they dont have to be actual agents?
    e.g., Dr. Moeed Pirzada and Ejaz Haider may be in this category. Any thoughts?

  13. @omar

    We welcome devil’s advocate at this forum.

    I tend to agree with you that some people in this list may not be receiving actual instructions or orders or paychecks from aabpara, but may in fact be a part of the same socio-economic and ideological bandwagon, i.e., “Pakistani establishment”.

    In this way, most of them may still be enjoying material or/and non-monetary benefits of their links with the military establishment.

  14. I think comment # 10 in this thread serves as a useful context for comments # 12 and 13.

  15. Comments deleted. The poster has been banned from LUBP for consistently violating the norms of civil discourse.

  16. This is so ridiculous. So basically what you are implying here that any person who has a voice in the Pakistani media (Print, Electronic and Blogosphere) is one way or the other related to or on the payroll of the ISI. Wonderful! Sarah Khan you should count your lucky starts that Pakistan has such a weak judicial and corrupt judicial system. However, I really hope that one of these journalists comes out and hits you with a defamation lawsuit. I mean honestly – how do you expect your readers to comply with your viewpoints when you have merrily come out and charged everyone with the same crime?

  17. I thought Ali Chishti is the biggest critic of ISI and in the president camp? On Dawn with Rauf Kilasra he just ridiculed Kyeani and was the architect of the media campaign ran by Farah Isphani. I don’t agree wit the list but Ahmed Qureshi and Shireen Mazarai are absolutely ISI. I think this is a below the belt attempt by you guys. As a pipliya, I am not happy. This is not media management. You are creating enemies.

  18. I see nothing wrong in publishing names of those media persons who are promoting the military establishment’s agenda. Most of the people listed above are already known as ‘assets’ of aabpara.

    @Fakhir Muhammad, What enemies are you talking about? Was there a single voice raised by any one in this list when Hamid Mir witch-hunted LUBP? These PPP phobes were never on LUBP’s side.

  19. @Concerned Citizens of Pakistan

    LUBP must be “hushiaar baash”. An anonymous group of concerned citizens of Pakistan is threatening you with legal consequences, or may I say harassing you to remove this post.

  20. @Fakhir Muhammad

    Mr Ali Chishti is in the aspiring category in this list, he is an MQM’s asset

    Hamid Mir is an american spy, and all this bullshits…why comparing two different personalities. I mean Orya Maqbool, Talat Hussain, Javed Chaudhry…these are good people, not like other journalists who spent more time on anti pakistan acttivities promoting USA more and declaring and preaching Pakistan as being failed state. I know you will not allow to publish my post, but this is only for you who made this blog, bullshit…stop this cheap act and promote positive aspects of Pakistan….stop dreaming these people are good, those are bad…..ok

  22. @”concerned citizens of Pakistan”, how presumptious of you guys! There are other concerned citizens too who are alarmed that our media is nothing more than the toilet paper of the ISI. I suppose some of you like being used in this manner. Well the rest of us are appalled at the fraudia behavior of our journalists and bloggers!

  23. Whistleblowing is a noble job. Those who are trying to harass my friends in Pakistan need to be told in unequivocal terms: Yuck Fou!

  24. This is Ahmed Quraishpuri Zaidi Hamidi Hamdani. Those of you who have blamed me for being an ISI operative must be ready to face legal consequences.

  25. You are much worse than those you slander if you plan on ‘building up Pakistan’ by levelinbg baseless allegations on a public forum about public personalities without providing any substantial proof.
    This is unethical, cheap, and sad.

  26. Imran Khan ki sunnat aur Imran Khan ka anjaam

    Imrans party gives 90 day deadline to Britain to probe MQM chiefs activities

    ANI Report
    June 4, 2007

    The British Government has been given 90 days by Imran Khans Tehrik-i-Insaf (TI) party to probe the illegal activities of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, a British citizen, and bring him to book.

    London, June 4, 2007 :The British Government has been given 90 days by Imran Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (TI) party to probe the ‘illegal’ activities of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, a British citizen, and ‘bring him to book’.

    In a memorandum presented at 10 Downing Street on Sunday after an hour-long demonstration by some 300 people, local TI leaders alleged that Altaf Hussain was responsible for numerous incidents of torture and killings in Pakistan and that the funds collected through extortion by his party men were being used to facilitate the MQM’s criminal activities.

    According to the Dawn, the memorandum further states that he was a British national and should be held accountable for these activities in the UK.

    The demonstration, led by local TI leaders, and was also attended by PML-N workers as well as Pakistani students and lawyers. They raised slogans against President Musharraf and Hussain.

    Imran Khan did not attend the demonstration as he was busy meeting important UK legislators and lawyers to brief them on his case against Altaf Hussain.

    On Sunday afternoon, the Lawyers’ Forum, UK, held an hour-long demonstration in front of the MQM’s international headquarters here. They were holding placards which read: Disarm the MQM, Prosecute Altaf Hussain.

    Imran Khan says he is planning to use the British courts to sue Hussein.

    Khan claims that Hussein was responsible for last month’s violence in Karachi, which left over 40 dead and many more injured.

    “The MQM is a terrorist organisation and how can British Premier Tony Blair allow it to function from London when he is supposedly fighting war on terror,” the Independent quoted Khan, as saying last week.

    If Khan succeeds in launching legal proceedings against Hussein, it would be a remarkable twist in the already turbulent world of Pakistani politics.

    “I have huge numbers of people who are willing to testify against Hussein in a British court,” said Khan.

    Meanwhile, a spokesman of the MQM has dismissed Khan’s threats as little more than political gimmickry and vowed to fight any legal proceedings.

    “Unfortunately this is dirty Pakistani politics,” Tariq Mir, who heads up the MQM’s legal team in Britain, said.


    Read more:

  27. Lol, great jokes.

  28. Here’s what Ayesha Siddiqa said in her Interview to the Viewpoint

    Today, we face a state of military hegemony: political, economic and intellectual control. Today, there is not a single university in Pakistan or a young scholar who is not on the military’s payroll or network. They open shops called think-tanks for their young clients. A journalist, who does not take directions from the military, is a rarity in today’s Pakistan. Institutionally, this outreach is done through the ISPR and the ISI. But there are other informal channels as well such as the army chief himself. Recently, heard a top Pakistani journalist claim in a private meeting that the military intends to fight the Taliban because he had heard that from the army chief with whom he had about six private sessions. The national security narrative built on and around the Kashmir and Afghanistan issues is critical for establishing military’s hegemony.

  29. This is a very bold post, Sarah.

    I must confess that I had already some doubts about every single person you included in your ‘roll of dishonor’.

    Each one of them has a shady character (past or present). Their anti-politician and pro-establishment currents range from running very deep to being quite evident, and vary according to the situation.

    Well done!

  30. And one more thing

    Don’t mind the haters!

  31. Yasser Latif-Hamdani (YLH) is too immature to be on the ISI media list. The ISI’s standards have not fallen that much.

    However, one of his associates is currently on a rapid training course.

    Sheen Alif recently reminded that YLH is the same guy who was unable to locate Faridkot (after Ajmal Kasab’s arrest in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks) in Pakistan’s Map via google map application in his blackberry cellphone. He published a whole piece on it preaching Indians not to accuse Pakistan.

    Though at the same forum, his fellow writer, a Marxist author called it a National Humiliation Day, when Kasab’s family was discovered along with Faridkot.

    Seeing that the establishment’s game had been exposed, YLH hurriedly wrote an apology note, not unlike what Zafar Hilaly did after the expose of the fake wikileaks.

  32. Interesting article. I didn’t see that in time to comment on the list but I guess there is no harms in add my two paisas here.

    First paisa: its really not a good idea to write names or name names. Discretion is sometimes better than valor. People have their connections. Journalists need those connections to write stories and articles. Sometimes they do print news briefings as their opinions but does that make them agent or agencies sponsored is debatable.

    Since most of the news in Pakistan is generate by one major institution, some folks are bound to have cozy relationship with them and in exchange some get material benefits too. Bad apples are in every profession and therefore in some ways this article should have been presented differently.

    Second Paisa: The two last mentioned names that are active in a blog. I think there are some issues with that blog and its sponsors. One person associated with that blog is just driven by his religious zeal and his whole politics and what he writes has a certain background and agenda. That may not be wholly allied with what is suggested here. But let there be no doubt that he is as pro army as they come no matter how much he tries to hide that behind the facade that he has so assiduously created.
    The last named person: the less said the better. I think his name is used but some other person who actually writes what is printed in his name. He just totally lacks the depth that is needed to write on those subject. He reminds of a certain Pakistani journalist who contributed to the Asia times or perhaps still does.

  33. Interesting article. I didn’t see that in time to comment on the list but I guess there is no harms in add my two paisas here.

    Read As:

    Interesting article. I didn’t see that in time to comment on the list but I guess there is no harm in adding my two paisas here now.

  34. @hoss

    I like your comment.

    1. “Since most of the news in Pakistan is generate by one major institution, some folks are bound to have cozy relationship with them and in exchange some get material benefits too. Bad apples are in every profession and therefore in some ways this article should have been presented differently.” — can you explain how the article could have been presented differently without being a civil society type post?

    2. Your second paisa is rather interesting. Can you please be a bit more bold and clearly state who you are referring to and what are your exact reasons or evidence.

    Thank you

  35. @ Usama Khilji
    The “substantial proof” is that these people do not agree with PPP’s policies (assuming if there are any about “building Pakistan”) and criticize the incompetent PPP government.

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