Pakistani journalism has evolved into an aggressive, free-wheeling business in which more than 100 television channels and a host of newspapers compete for ratings and readers. At times it can be reckless and agenda-driven; members of the media acknowledge that some journalists and outlets have in effect become mouthpieces for the security establishment, and some are even on the payroll of intelligence agencies. Reporters often put themselves in harm's way as they try to dig up the truth about Islamic militant groups, shadowy intelligence agencies and the possible links between the two. One reporter recently ended up dead; another has a harrowing tale. REFERENCE: Pakistan journalists walk razor's edge By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times June 6, 2011, 7:34 p.m. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-journalists-20110607,0,723293.story
2008: US criticised major media group for irresponsible reporting DAWN.COM June 1, 2011 (1 week ago) http://www.dawn.com/2011/06/01/2008-us-criticised-major-media-group-for-irresponsible-reporting.html
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SUBJECT: JANG GROUP’S BEHAVIOR MAKES WORKING WITH GEO TV UNTENABLE
1. This is an action request see paragraph 15.
2. Summary: Post believes the time has come to end the contract the BBG holds with “GEO TV Network” and move it to a responsible organization. GEO is owned by the “Jang Group,” a multimedia corporation owning Urdu and English language newspapers and magazines and Urdu television stations in all major media markets in Pakistan, with cable TV contracts in the United States and elsewhere. While claiming to be moderate and neutral to USG policies, the “Jang Group” recently has increased its criticism of the USG and its policies, has engaged in anti-Semitic behavior and has specifically targeted the Ahmadi religious minority group in a television program that resulted in the death of two (including one Amcit) Ahmadis.
3. We have evidence the Jang Group is consciously publishing and broadcasting false and inflammatory stories, without regard to the fact that they could encourage violence against Americans or against U.S. interests. It is purposefully using the reach of its television network to amplify unchecked hate speech and promote violence in a brazen attempt to uphold or even increase its market share in a down economy. Post requests that the BBG cancel its contract to disseminate VOA programming through GEO. [End summary]
4. The “Jang Group” is a multimedia corporation owning Urdu and English language newspapers, magazines, and television stations in all major media markets in Pakistan with a country-wide reach.
Founded at the end of the Second World War by Mir Khalil ur Rehman. The company consists of three groups: Independent Newspapers Corporation (Pvt) Limited, News Publications (Pvt) Limited, and Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited.
5. The Group Chairman and Executive Director is Mir Javed ur Rehman, the eldest son of founder Mir Khalil ur Rehman. The Group Chief Executive and Editor in Chief is his younger brother, Mir Shakil ur Rehman. The Group Editor is Mehmood Shaam (Karachi).
6. The Independent Newspapers Corporation (Pvt) Limited owns the daily Urdu language “Jang” with editions issued in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Multan, and London. It has a combined estimated circulation of 300,000 plus (the largest in the country). Other papers owned by group include the Urdu daily “Awaz” (Lahore), evening Urdu daily “Awam” (Karachi), evening Urdu daily “Inqilaab” (Lahore), Urdu weekly “Akhbar-e-Jehan” (Karachi), English weekly
“MAG” (Karachi), and the website www.jang.com.pk.
7. News Publications (Pvt) Limited owns the English daily “The News,” with editions issued in Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore. Its combined daily estimated circulation is 50,000.
8. Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited owns Urdu language “GEO TV Network.” The satellite TV channel is headquartered in Dubai, UAE, with studios and offices in Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore. “GEO TV Network” started in 2002 with its flagship “GEO TV,” later branching into two channels “GEO News” and “GEO Entertainment” (dramas, sitcoms, etc.). It has subsequently launched “GEO Super” (24-hour sports), “Aag” (24-hour music) and international editions including GEO UK, GEO USA, GEO Middle East, GEO Canada, GEO Europe, and GEO Japan. The Chief Executive is Mir Ibrahim Rehman (based in Karachi), the son of Mir Shakil ur Rehman and the President is Imran Aslam (Karachi).
9. Post has watched with growing concern, as “Jang Group” media entities have grown more irresponsible running erroneous and clearly unsubstantiated stories against not only USG policies and the Embassy, but also a minority religious group in Pakistan, as well as espousing anti-Semitic rhetoric. While initially this could be seen as a flexing of new found media freedoms allowed under former President Musharraf — and continued under newly-elected President Zardari – we now believe these stories are intentional and put our people at risk. The Group’s outlets have frequently been the only media outlets in Pakistan to run, without modification or qualification, releases put out by the Taliban.
Among the more egregious acts:
– On August 27, 2008, Jang Group papers ran a story claiming all USAID offices in the FATA had closed due to a threat from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Not only was the story a fabrication, but it also made baseless inflammatory accusations claiming Blackwater USA was handling security and identifying an American Peshawar Consulate employee as a Jew, stating that as a Jew he should close down his offices there, “since the presence of Jewish
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officials in FATA would not be tolerated in any case.”
– On September 7, 2008, “GEO TV Network” aired the program “Aalim Online.” The date coincided with the anniversary of a change in Pakistan’s constitution in 1974 that officially classified the Ahmadis as “non-Muslims.” The host Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain egged on guests about the Ahmadis. One guest responded that, “As long as this sedition is alive and even one (Ahmadi) remains on this earth, there is a need to eliminate it.” Two other guests used the Arabic phrase “Wajb-ul-Qatal (duty to kill) to describe those who believe in the Ahmadi doctrine. Dr. Hussain did not intervene to moderate the views, and in his closing statement belittled the Ahmadi founder and agreed in essence with the guests’ contention that his followers were not true Muslims. No member of the Ahmadi community was invited to speak. Two prominent Ahmadi leaders, one of them an American citizen, were murdered in Pakistan shortly after the program was televised.
– After the September 20, 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing, English language paper “The News” ran a series of baseless pieces attempting to blame the bombing on the U.S., claiming that Post had been using the hotel as a base of operations for “hundreds” of “Marines,” carrying on about steel boxes that had been moved in and out of the hotel under cover of night. When those stories petered out, it claimed that the fire that raged throughout the night of the bombing, was started by chemicals in the guest room of the one of the Americans who died in the blast. None of this was ever substantiated in any way, yet ran on the front page of the paper and was echoed by “GEO TV.”. Few of these stories were picked up by any of the other media, and completely ignored by the international press here.
– On October 23, 2008, Post’s Information Officer received a call at 2200 on the mobile telephone he reserves for press calls from someone who would not identify himself, but claimed that he had just driven by the IO’s residence, saw there were cars there, and asked if he had not been invited to a reception. The individual then asked about a resolution that had recently been passed by the Pakistani parliament, and then asked to speak to the Ambassador.
The IO was then asked about a “Daniel Pearl Lecture” he had heard the IO conducted in Karachi earlier in the week, and then inquired if the IO was Jewish. The subsequent story in “The News” took the IO’s comments out of context in a clear effort to paint a derogatory picture.
– On November 17, 2008, “GEO TV” suddenly disappeared from the airwaves in Karachi. The blackout lasted about six hours. A senior “GEO” staffer told our senior information LES that the stoppage was a result of pressure being applied by one of the political parties due to “GEO” not airing a speech by one of its politicians. Post found out subsequently that another “GEO” official disclosed to an officer of a European diplomatic mission that they had taken themselves off the air in order to blame the political party, and garner support for the station.
10. We have protested directly to reporters, editors, and the Group Chief Executive and Editor in Chief Mir Shakil ur Rehman over the consistent inaccuracy of “Jang Group” reporting, as well as their refusal to apply the most basic standards of journalistic ethics, stating that we expect to be called about and to respond to any story any entity of the group is carrying about the Embassy or its activities, and even provided them with direct telephone numbers for the IO, the PAO, and the Ambassador. Despite these efforts, the
“Jang Group” has not changed its practices.
11. All of this occurs under the eye of the Group Editor who has not exercised supervision or applied good journalistic practices when assigning and reviewing stories. When queried by Post’s IO he stated that they know that many of their reporters have political agendas, are paid by ISI, military intelligence, Jamaat-e-Islami, or other interests but that they prefer not to fire or reprimand these reporters.
12. The problem of reporting rumor, innuendo, and unsubstantiated allegations is bad enough when limited to the distribution numbers of “Jang” daily or “The News.” However, it is when these stories are amplified by the “GEO TV Network” that the truly negative influence expands to substantial numbers. And all of this by their own admission is calculated to maintain or increase their market share.
13. On a recent visit to “GEO TV Network” offices in Karachi, our IO had a conversation putting all of this into context. “GEO” sees
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its behavior as win-win with sensationalism and hate speech generating ratings and any attempt by authorities to rein it in allowing them to exploit their circumstance by claiming censorship.
While they realize that we (like the GOP, Brits, Canadians and many of the international reporters) find their reporting reprehensible and dangerous, we have supported them in the past, especially when President Musharraf took “GEO TV” off the air during the 2007 State of Emergency, and believe we dare not stop them lest we be seen as hypocrites. Their calculus is that we are more cowed by accusations of actively trampling their freedom of the press than we are of tacitly supporting hate speech. Therein lies the rub for the USG – at what point do we cater to consistent, blatant hate speech and intentionally inaccurate and irresponsible reporting in major daily newspapers and a country’s largest broadcaster which threatens the safety of American citizens or U.S. interests?
14. We have discussed the issue with the GOP at different levels, including President Zardari, and all are concerned by the “Jang Group’s” coverage. While wishing to grant the benefit of the doubt in order to protect the right to a free press, we believe the utter lack of any journalistic standard or editorial restraint has now proven too much to overlook.
15. Action Request: In light of this calculated behavior, post believes it is time to terminate the BBG contract to disseminate VOA programming through the “Geo TV Network.” Post recommends finding a more balanced and responsible partner with whom to deal for our media program contracts in Pakistan.
Jang Group says anti-Pakistan lobby Congressmen Garry Ackerman but what's this?
Washington, D.C. - The Voice of America (VOA) will launch Beyond the Headlines-its new television program in Urdu-on Monday, Nov. 14. The half-hour program will air on GEO TV in Pakistan at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and on selected international satellites, including AsiaSat (Virtual Channel 409) and IOR (Virtual Channel 420). Beyond the Headlines (Khabron se Aage), a fast-paced, contemporary production designed with young and urban Pakistanis in mind, will continue VOA's 63-year tradition of broadcasting accurate and balanced information. Programs will examine international developments, technology, politics, social issues, education, religion, sports, and entertainment. "We look forward to opening this important new channel of communication between the American people and Pakistan," said Steven J. Simmons, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees all United States international radio and television services. Simmons is chairman of the BBG's Voice of America Committee, and has played a key role in increasing radio and TV service to Pakistan, including Beyond the Headlines. "We're particularly delighted with our partnership with GEO TV, the leading cable/satellite broadcaster in the Urdu language," Simmons added. "This new program, together with our expanded radio service, demonstrates our growing commitment to reach the people of Pakistan with new, engaging programs on both radio and TV." "The links between Pakistan and the United States are strong and growing, and our new show is a reflection of that," said VOA Director David S. Jackson. "Beyond the Headlines will focus not only on the big issues of the day, but also on features, business, and culture stories that illuminate the world we live in. For example, we'll show how Pakistanis live and work and go to school in the U.S. We want to provide a unique mix of stories that viewers can't find anywhere else."
Farah Ispahani is the managing editor and executive producer for Beyond the Headlines. She joined VOA earlier this year, bringing more than 20 years of experience in print and television media at such news organizations as CNN, ABC, and NBC. Before she joined VOA, Ispahani, who is a fluent Urdu speaker, was instrumental in the launch of CNN's Paula Zahn Now and Anderson Cooper 360. Anchoring Beyond the Headlines will be Aneka Osman. A familiar face to Pakistanis, Osman worked as an English language news anchor on Pakistan Television. She has covered regional and national security issues, Pakistan-India relations, the conflict in the Middle East, and Pakistan's general elections. She has also worked on Prime Television, the UK-based Pakistani channel, and on the Business Plus Channel.
Ayaz Gul is VOA Urdu's Chief Reporter and Pakistan Coverage Coordinator for Radio Aap ki Dunyaa (Your World Radio), VOA's Urdu radio service, and Beyond the Headlines. Gul, who is based in Pakistan, has been filing on-the-scene reports in Urdu and English for VOA since 1996, and his reports are translated into numerous languages throughout VOA. Prior to joining VOA, he worked for the Japanese network NHK and for the German news agency DPA as a reporter specializing in Pakistan's foreign and domestic news. VOA's Urdu Service broadcasts 12 hours a day of news and information to millions of Pakistanis and other Urdu speakers on Radio Aap ki Dunyaa. The program is distributed by medium wave at 972 kHz, digital audio satellite, the Internet and a three-hour shortwave broadcast. The launch of Beyond the Headlines adds two-and-half hours of television to the Urdu Service's weekly broadcast schedule. The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages. REFERENCE: PRESS RELEASES VOA Launches Urdu TV For Pakistan 11/13/2005 For more information, call VOA’s Office of Public Affairs at (202) 203-4959 or E-Mail email@example.com http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pakistan/h05111301.html
Watch Capital Talk -- 1st June 2011
Former president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Mazhar Abbas said that on the whole media’s role in the entire episode left a lot to be desired. “We go by the official version and don’t even use words like ‘alleged’. We (the media) must be very careful when an allegation is being levelled against someone,” said Mr Abbas. He said that the electronic media totally ignored these guidelines and did not even express regret if someone had been cleared by court or law-enforcers through an inquiry. “Throughout his ordeal, Faiz remained quite confident but we were devastated. We spent sleepless nights since Sunday when it all began,” his family members said. REFERENCE: ‘Therapy shoes’ passenger mulls action against ASF By S. Raza Hassan Saturday, 15 May, 2010 http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/local/therapy-shoes-passenger-mulls-action-against-asf-550
But Hamid Mir is least bothered when he starts filing his story or relaying something on Capital Talk:) An example is as under on the "Lies" which were relayed on Capital Talk dated 1st Jun 2011.
ISLAMABAD - The man who made sensational claims about the PNS Mehran base attack has turned out to be a disparate lover who fabricated the story just to revenge his failure in marrying a sister of an army man. Muhammad Junaid in an interview with Waqt News confessed that he had nothing to do with the Karachi naval base attack. “I am not a witness to it and totally unaware of the facts about it,” he said. Junaid had claimed in a programme of a private TV that some army men were involved in the attack on Mehran naval base in Karachi. Giving details, Junaid said that he was engaged with a girl, but her brother Arshad, who is a Hawaldar in the army, had been creating obstacles in the way of their marriage. Junaid said he wanted Arshad to be arrested and punished by the army as he made his family mentally suffer on the issue of his marriage. He claimed that Arshad had been threatening his family of dire consequences for the last one year. “I admit my mistake and seek forgiveness. I was unaware of the serious consequences,” he said. Junaid also clarified that nobody pressured him to tell that false story to media. It was only for the sake of revenge. He said he himself is a son of a soldier but he was so carried away by his hate for Arshad that he took such a dangerous step. He said that he believes that Arshad would have received enough punishment from the army, adding that he made a phone call to Arshad after making false claims but he didn’t receive the call. He told that he and Arshad both are residents of Rawalpindi. REFERENCE: Fake eyewitness seeks pardon from nation By: Zeeshan Shamsi | Published: June 03, 2011 http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/03-Jun-2011/Fake-eyewitness-seeks-pardon-from-nation
What Hamid Mir did to settle his score with the equally despicable Newspaper/News Group "NawaiWaqt/Nation" is as under and he did that under the garb of Eulogizing the services of Syed Saleem Shahzad, read his "Language" and watch the TV Show wherein he repeated the "Lie" he relayed on GEO TV
Bolta Pakistan -- 2 June 2011
Now read Hamid Mir in Daily Jang dated 6 June 2011 http://ejang.jang.com.p
The Jang Group would win a First Prize if the Championship of Oxymoron is ever announced because in the same newspaper i.e. Daily Jang on the same date another "Calligrapher i.e Kaatib" has written quite opposite on the Journalists who are on Foreign Payroll. Read
If that was not enough then read two pieces filed by "Mir Brothers" in The News International (7 June 2011) in the name of Backgrounder or whatever but actually "Cock and Bull"
The fate of Ilyas Kashmiri is a lesson for many ‘good Taliban’ as well as a lesson for the establishment itself. First lesson is that Pakistani establishment used thousands of youngsters in the name of Jihad and liberation of Kashmir but it can change its policy anytime under foreign pressure. They are not dependable. Secondly the Pakistani establishment must realise that creating private armies is the violation of Constitution. They must not create private armies and if you have created these private Armies in the past don’t mishandle them. They can become genies like Ilyas Kashmiri. REFERENCE: Kashmiri wanted an Indo-Pak war Hamid Mir
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=51260&Cat=2&dt=6/7/2011
This is with reference to Hamid Mir's report (Sept 20) titled "How an ex-commando became a terrorist". It is total disinformation -- Ilyas Kashmiri neither had any association with the SSG nor did he serve in the army as a soldier. Being an ex-commando officer, I know that the SSG never indulges in such heinous crimes. It's a superior professional force of the army composed of responsible officers and men who carry out professional tasks. I would like to add that there is always an attempt by hostile agencies to defame the security forces of Pakistan with a malicious intent. Therefore, newspapers and columnists must refrain from falling prey to these fifth columnists. REFERENCE: Colnel (r) Imam Ex-SSG officer, Rawalpindi Who is Ilyas Kashmiri? Friday, October 02, 2009http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=201054
LIE with Mohammad Malick & GEO TV - 1 (Kehnay Mein Kia Harj Hai - 25th May 2010)
LIE with Mohammad Malick & GEO TV - 2 (Kehnay Mein Kia Harj Hai - 25th May 2010)
LIE with Mohammad Malick & GEO TV - 3 (Kehnay Mein Kia Harj Hai - 25th May 2010)
- PFUJ’S DEFINITION AND SAD STORY OF PAKISTANI JOURNALISM [Deteriorating not day by day but by hour] - First it was Let Us Build Pakistan!! NO NO NO Jews are behind it, NO NO Zionists are behind it, NO NO NO Zardari is behind it [Mariana Baabar says so Anchor Cast Adrift What’s behind the tapes of TV host Hamid Mir’s chat with a Taliban man? MARIANA BAABAR MAGAZINE MAY 31, 2010 http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?265494 ], NO NO Zardari is not behind it but RAW is behind it, NO NO Quadiyanis are behind it but NO NO NO Hussain Haqqani behind it, NO NO some serving Generals behind it, God damn my Journalist Colleagues who are actually behind it. [Hamid Mir's View] - Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the top body of media and custodian of ‘freedom of speech and civil liberties. Conspiracy against Hamid Mir by an aggrieved person i.e. Osama Khalid s/o Khalid Khawaja [but MARIANA BAABAR says Lollywood film directors searching for a script to produce a thriller are best advised to read Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP http://criticalppp.org/lubp/) on the website criticalppp.org, which is advertised as a project of critical supporters of the Pakistan People’s Party.
If Mr. Hamid Mir wasn't enough along came his real brother Mr. Amir Mir
Friendly journalists - Mr Zardari's supporters believe that cancelling the trip would not have helped him. "He would have been remembered and criticised even if there were no floods in the country," said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday. And indeed, the current anti-Zardari campaign in the media started before the floods hit the headlines. The criticism began after British Prime Minister David Cameron made remarks in India on 28 July where he accused some in Pakistan of "looking both ways", exporting terror to neighbouring countries. On 31 July, Pakistan's Geo TV reported that the chief of the ISI intelligence service, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, had cancelled a scheduled trip to the UK because of Mr Cameron's remarks, but Mr Zardari was continuing with his planned trip. Pakistan's ubiquitous TV news presenters began questioning President Zardari's patriotism and personal integrity. The print media was not far behind. While President Zardari's European tour had been "reduced to a pleasure trip" after Mr Cameron's remarks, "the army reacted in a timely and dignified manner" by cancelling the ISI chief's UK visit, an editorial comment in the Pakistan Observer newspaper said. The News newspaper called Mr Zardari's visit a "pursuit of his own dynastic aggrandizement". The floods only intensified this initial criticism. Two significant developments took place on Thursday. Firstly, Bilawal Bhutto denied he was planning to address the Pakistan Peoples' Party rally in Birmingham, one of the main reasons for Mr Zardari's trip. Secondly, Prime Minister Gilani informed journalists that the ISI chief had not, in fact, scheduled a visit to the UK in the first place. Many quarters insist Bilawal Bhutto's "cancellation" of an appearance at the Birmingham show may be the result of a rethink on the part of Mr Zardari's advisers to minimise political damage. But what about the confusion over the story about the ISI chief's visit to the UK? The initial report on Geo TV had come from mysterious, unnamed sources. And even more mysteriously, the army's media wing - which normally keeps a hawkish eye on the news, correcting reports at the first possible stage - had not stepped in to clarify the report. The ties between the military and the media are strong. The military often use the media to protect its hold on the giant corporate empire which it has built. In the 1980s the military did this through open censorship. Since the 1990s it has evolved subtler ways. It controls almost all access to big stories, and has therefore been able to raise a corps of "friendly" journalists who now control most key jobs in Pakistani media due to their "contacts". President Zardari's supporters suggest the media could have made up the story of the ISI cancelling its trip to the UK in order to spark an anti-Zardari campaign, which intensified as the scale of the flood damage became clear. REFERENCE: Criticism of Zardari in Pakistan hides a political game By M Ilyas Khan BBC News, Islamabad 7 August 2010 Last updated at 15:10 GMT http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10901583
Jang Group is a riddle within a Riddle, read what Mr. Amir Mir had filed in 2011 on slain American Journalist Daniel Pearl and also go through as to what Kamran Khan, Rauf Klasra, and the then Group Editor and Now as well Group Editor Mr. Shaheen Sehbai had filed on the same Daniel Pearl in the year 2002. REFERENCE: Curse of Mirs & Jang Group on Pakistan & Case of Daniel Pearl http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/02/curse-of-mirs-jang-group-on-pakistan.html
And in 2011 the same Jang Group
Four men currently in prison here for the murder of the journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002 may be innocent of his killing. A recently-released report sponsored by the Georgetown University in Washington reveals that whilst the men currently in custody were accomplices to the crime they were not the ones who beheaded Pearl – which gruesome dishonour goes to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who actually admitted the crime in 2007. The guilt of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was further consolidated by a technique known as ‘vein matching’ – because the pattern of veins visible on the back of the hands of the murderer and clearly seen in the video of the event exactly match those of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Not only did they not commit the final crime, they were not present at the scene although they did assist with Pearl’s kidnapping. The men in custody have been sentenced to death and if hung a miscarriage of justice will have taken place.
The report titled ‘The truth left behind: Inside the Kidnapping and Murder of Daniel Pearl’ is kind to none of the players involved is this travesty. It speaks of perjured and manipulated evidence presented before the court, conflicting accounts of events by the police when compared to documents submitted to the court, leads that were not followed and co-conspirators who are known but were never prosecuted. The Americans, who might have been thought to have an interest in getting to the bottom of the matter, allowed the case to go dormant even after the 2007 confession by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. An FBI agent is reported to have been told by his superior to ‘let sleeping dogs lie.’ At the time of the arrest and conviction of the men now in jail there was some satisfaction that the case had been brought to a speedy conclusion to the satisfaction of all parties, but the new report is going to add considerable weight to the men’s appeal when it is finally heard. They are perhaps fortunate to be in the hands of one of the world’s least effective justice systems, which has procrastinated in their appeal hearings virtually since their conviction in July 2002. The murder of Daniel Pearl has become a dark icon by which we are identified around the world. It is one of those events by which we are defined and remembered, that its aftermath now looks like a shabby coverup and the wrongful conviction of four men does nothing to clean our image. If the men in Hyderabad jail are complicit in the kidnap of Pearl then that is what they should be tried and sentenced for. But not for a crime they did not commit. REFERENCE: The Pearl case Sunday, January 23, 2011 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=27242&Cat=8&dt=5/9/2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011, Safar 21, 1432 http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/jan2011-daily/26-01-2011/main2.htm
LAHORE: Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed, the convicted killer of American journalist Daniel Pearl told his American interrogators in Karachi after his arrest in Lahore that his intention was to kidnap him, not kill him, and that he felt sorry for tricking him, which eventually culminated in his slaughter.
According to the findings of a fresh investigation of the 2002 abduction and beheading of the US journalist, titled “The Truth Left Behind: Inside the Kidnapping and Murder of Daniel Pearl,” on March 10, 2002, four weeks after ISI officials handed Omar Sheikh over to police custody, an FBI agent, Tarine Fairman, was given access to the alleged killer for an interview. According to the investigation report, Omar Sheikh told the FBI agent his life story.
“Omar stated that the first time he did a kidnapping he had sort of a pain of conscience. The second time he did a kidnapping it was not so bad, and the third time it got easier and so on,” according to the FBI interview report, called a “302.” About the practice of beheadings, Omar Sheikh said, “I think it strikes fear in the enemy.”
However, talking about Daniel Pearl’s murder, Omar Sheikh reportedly told the FBI agent, “My intention was to kidnap him, not kill him,” and that “I’ve got nothing against Jews per se, it’s the Zionist policies.” He added: “I would target a Zionist, not a Jew. ... I knew that Daniel Pearl was a Jew; I read it in the newspapers. ... When I said to release him, referring to Daniel Pearl, they already knew he was a Jew.” But according to him, the Pearl’s captors had to hold him once the local newspapers revealed he was Jewish.
“Those people couldn’t release him once they found out he was a Jew,” he said. According to the fresh investigation report, which was released last week by the Center for Public Integrity, Omar Sheikh was told by another militant that Daniel Pearl was a reporter who wished to infiltrate a number of Pakistani jehadi organizations, and interview their leaders,” which was an indicator for him that he was working for the American CIA. Sheikh told the FBI agent, “I feel bad, I tricked him, Pearl, into coming there and he was killed.”
Later in the interview, he said, “Pearl would not be dead if I didn’t do what I did.” He acknowledged, “I feel sorry for Pearl’s wife,” but added, “What should I do? Give food packets to Mrs Pearl, like the Americans dropped food packets to the Afghan people?”
The Omar Sheikh had rushed out of Karachi after turning over Daniel Pearl to local militant leaders in Karachi. Sheikh later told police that Asif Ramzi, an operational leader, called him and told him that Pearl had been killed. Sheikh recalled that he immediately phoned Amjad Farooqi, his contact to the local militant leaders, and asked him to get the details. Farooqi met Sheikh in Lahore and confirmed that Pearl was dead. This account has Pearl dead before Omar Sheikh was arrested. It isn’t clear how Sheikh responded, but when he was arrested he claimed to police that Pearl was still alive. The fresh investigations exonerate Sheikh of the Pearl murder charge:
“Sheikh had experience as a kidnapper, nabbing tourists in New Delhi in 1994, but, as far as is known, wasn’t a killer. Was his intention to carry through on the Pearl death threat, or was he playing to see what he could get? After all, he was sprung from jail in India by militants who had demanded and won his freedom in return for passengers aboard a hijacked Indian passenger flight. The report also discusses Sheikh’s possible links with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), “Pakistan’s version of the CIA”.
What General (R) Ehsanul Haq, the ISI chief at the time (of Pearl murder), acknowledged in an interview with the Pearl Project (sponsored by the George Town University) is that on February 5, 2002, Omar Sheikh gave himself up to Brigadieer Ejaz Hussain Shah, the home secretary for the province of Punjab, a retired army brigadier and close ally of then President Pervez Musharraf. “Sheikh told the FBI he was in Shah’s care for the seven days. Ejaz Shah had worked as an intelligence officer for the ISI.
He also came from the same ancestral village, Nankana Sahib, as Omar Sheikh’s mother. Later, in court testimony, Omar Sheikh’s uncle and father made no mention of the ISI, simply stating that they handed the young man over to Lahore police, asking the police not to beat him. Whether Sheikh sought refuge in Shah’s custody because there was a family connection and would, therefore, provide a soft landing into the legal system, or whether it was because Sheikh had a long history with the ISI is still unresolved”.
The investigation report further stated: “This interlude has raised numerous questions. Was the ISI protecting Sheikh? Was it holding him to make sure he wouldn’t spill any of its secrets? Was Omar Sheikh hoping the intelligence service - perhaps the most powerful institution in Pakistan - would provide him some protection? Most provocatively, were elements in the ISI which have backed the Taliban and Pakistani militant groups, knowledgeable about Sheikh’s kidnapping activities? Even worse, was the ISI involved? Ehsanul Haq denied any ISI involvement in the kidnapping”. REFERENCE: Pearl killer was allowed to meet FBI team in jail Amir Mir Wednesday, January 26, 2011 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=27755&Cat=2
LAHORE: A fresh investigation into the January 2002 abduction and subsequent beheading of the American journalist Daniel Pearl has revealed that Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed and his three co-accomplices, who had been handed down capital punishment by a Karachi court in July same year, did not commit the murder and were not even present at the crime scene.
Sponsored by the Georgetown University, Washington, the findings of the three-and-a-half-year long investigation have concluded that the four militants convicted in the killing, including the prime accused, Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed, did help kidnap the journalist but did not kill him.
The findings of the investigation report, titled “The Truth Left Behind: Inside the Kidnapping and Murder of Daniel Pearl,” actually endorse the March 2007 confession of al-Qaeda’s former chief operational commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammad to having slaughtered Pearl. Khalid was arrested from Rawalpindi in March 2003 and handed over to the US.
He told the FBI agents that he had a purpose in the Pearl killing: “I wanted to make sure I got the death penalty” if the US caught him, and so he wanted blood on his hands. One of the more gruesome findings of the investigation report is that the videotaping of Pearl’s beheading was initially bungled and that the killing had to be re-enacted.
Khalid had already slashed Pearl’s neck when the cameraman had to restart the taping. The second time, Khalid fully severed the head.
The 38-year-old American had traveled to Pakistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks and was abducted from Karachi on January 23, 2002, before being beheaded by the Islamic militants while working on an investigative story about the alleged intelligence links of some Pakistani militant leaders.
On February 21, 2002, a video of Pearl’s killing was delivered to US officials in Pakistan. His remains were eventually found in a shallow grave on Karachi’s outskirts three months later.
Shortly after Pearl’s disappearance, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin, and three accomplices were caught, charged, and convicted of murder and kidnapping.
However, the findings of the fresh probe have raised questions about Pakistan’s flawed criminal justice system, saying the four men were convicted of the Pearl murder primarily because the Pakistani authorities knowingly relied on perjured testimony and ignored other leads.
According to the findings, which have been published by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity, “Justice was not served; Leads weren’t followed; suspects weren’t interviewed and alleged co-conspirators weren’t prosecuted. The truth was left behind. Pakistan closed the case. The US let the case go dormant, with one FBI agent told by his boss, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
The report says 14 of 27 people involved in the abduction and subsequent beheading of Pearl are still at large, five are already dead, four have already been convicted and the remaining four are under detention but have not yet been tried by the Pakistani authorities.
The report adds that the four men convicted in the Pearl murder could be released if their appeal is ever heard because of false and contradictory evidence used in the trial. The four convicted men including Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed, a London School of Economics’ graduate-turned-Jihadi, and three of his accomplices, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adeel, were put on trial on April 22, 2002 and were handed down capital punishment almost three months later, in July 2002, after a summary trial by an Anti Terrorism Court.
But almost eight-and-a-half years after being sentenced to death, the Pearl killers are lucky enough to have dodged the gallows during all those years, primarily because the Sindh High Court has yet to decide their appeals against the death sentence.
Both the defence and the prosecution blame each other for stalling tactics. According to the defence attorney Rai Basheer, the prosecution knows it would lose on appeal and is delaying the process, but prosecutor Raja Qureshi dismissed those claims, saying, “I challenge the defence to come and attend the case properly and consistently, and they will themselves know whose case is weak”.
Yet the fresh findings have strengthened the case of Omar Sheikh and his co-accomplices. For instance, it finds significant discrepancies between the Pakistani police reports as well as in the court testimonies, including that of a taxi driver whose account was considered crucial to the conviction.
As per the fresh American findings, “the Pakistani authorities apparently cajoled the driver to change his earlier story and, while testifying, place Omar Sheikh with Daniel Pearl near the restaurant where the American journalist was picked up by his abductors. But as a matter of fact, Sheikh is believed to have left Karachi before other men he had recruited carried out the kidnapping.”
Currently languishing in a Hyderabad jail, the accused had approached the Sindh High Court, challenging the verdict of the Anti Terrorism Court. But their appeals have not yet been decided despite a lapse of over eight years.
Omar Sheikh’s defence lawyer Rai Bashir, who is also the chairman of the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum, maintains that Pearl’s case had taken a new twist in the wake of the confessional statement by Khaled Sheikh and the findings of the American journalist, proving his contention that his client was innocent. “What we were saying for so many years is that Omar is innocent and had not committed that murder. We are happy that this version has been verified by none other than the Americans”, adds Rai Bashir who now plans to take up these developments before the Sindh High Court whenever Omar Sheikh’s appeal is heard.
But contrary to his lawyer’s contention, the hard fact remains that at his initial court appearance in April 2002, Sheikh Omar had almost confessed to his crime by stating before the court: “I don’t want to defend myself. I did this... Rightly or wrongly, I had my reasons. I think our country shouldn’t be catering to American needs”. REFERENCE: ‘Daniel Pearl killers’ did not kill him Amir Mir Friday, January 21, 2011 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=3457&Cat=13&dt=1/21/2011