For the past several months, some enemies of Pakistani liberals and free media have been involved in a defamatory campaign against some most respectable, independent journalists, portraying them as proxies of Pakistan army / ISI.
Kudos to my friend Omar Waraich for calling a spade a spade. In his article in The Time, Omar Waraich explains how journalists like Najam Sethi, Hamid Mir and Ejaz Haider are in fact anti-ISI journalists.
Omar Waraich notes how these three independent journalists heavily criticized the military/ISI for its alleged role in Saleem Shahzad’s torture and subsequent murder.
In the article, Omar Waraich wites, “The ISI denies that it ever threatened Shahzad or was involved in the kidnapping or killing of the journalist.
The ISI has contacted Sethi, Haider and other journalists whom it feels have unfairly represented the spy agency.” Sethi told TIME, “For what I’ve been saying since the bin Laden raid, I have incurred the wrath of the ISI. The agency has officially expressed its anger and annoyance and irritation.”
Of course, in view of the general anti-ISI sentiments in Pakistan in the aftermath of Saleem Shahzad’s murder, several journalists found it convenient and opportunistic to write a mild, shallow criticism of the ISI/army, something which Omar Waraich celebrates as “a recent wave of unprecedented criticism of the military”.
A striking example is a bluntly worded and widely read column by Ejaz Haider, a defense specialist who writes for several newspapers. “The ISI, the agency that you head, is being accused of Saleem’s murder,” Haider wrote in the op-ed that was cast as an open letter to ISI chief Lieut. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha. “You must know that the ISI is widely reviled and dreaded at home. For an agency that was set up primarily for strategic intelligence, this is quite an achievement.”
“The agency has officially expressed its anger and annoyance and irritation.” A third journalist, Hamid Mir, a political-talk-show host, goes further. The ISI, Mir alleges, recently approached him to ask that he cease his endorsement of the current civilian government. “I have refused to extend my support to the armed forces’ interference in politics,” he says. “That’s why they’re against me.”
For their comments about the military establishment, the three journalists could soon find themselves appearing before the Supreme Court. Sardar Muhammad Ghazi, a lawyer who served as deputy attorney general under the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf, has filed a 20-page petition calling on the court to stop them from disparaging the army and the ISI and to declare that such criticisms will not be tolerated and should lead to the shutdown of the offending television channel and newspaper. “These people are criticizing my armed forces,” Ghazi says indignantly. “They sit and castigate the army. I can’t tolerate it. There should be somebody who should come forward and say the media should be controlled.” In the petition, he accuses Sethi, Haider and Mir of being “out to promote the foreign agenda to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan.”
Indeed, it will be ludicrous to theorize that there are certain times when even patent friends of the ISI are forced to adopt a cosmetic anti-ISI line (mixing one ounce of truth in one tonne of lies) in order to demonstrate their neutrality.
All that glitters must be treated as gold, or so would Omar Waraich want us to believe.