2010: Many in the Pakistani media used the 2007-2009 lawyers’ movement in Pakistan as an ablution ritual to distance themselves from their fundamentalist past and created a centrist illusion around themselves --- “Newspapermen commit murder every day and week and go unpunished. Not that they escape judgment when they murder the King’s English; for that crime they are duly condemned. But day in and day out, they ‘kill stories’ with impunity. Or without criticism they may even ‘bury’ a story that is ‘alive’...” — Dorothy Colburn, ‘Newspaper Nomenclature’, February 1927 --- A couple of weeks ago an audio clip purported to be a conversation between a Pakistani media personality and an alleged Taliban leader remained in circulation for days on the Internet. While the Daily Times on May 16, 2010 reported the story and Declan Walsh’s reiteration of it the following day in the British paper The Guardian certainly saved the story on and of this tape from being killed, had it not been for the Daily Times (DT) editorial ‘Shocking revelations’ on May 17, 2010, this story might just have been buried alive. In an era where massively slanted opinion-based articles are passed around as front-page news leads and opinionated columnists masquerade as news reporters, this paper did a reasonably good job of confining its opinion to the daily’s editorial. The editorial still drew criticism for not getting the other side of the story. However, anyone remotely familiar with the workings of an editorial board would attest to the timely news angle of that particular piece, an objective explanation of the issue and the professional manner of writing that did cover both sides of the story. No doubt that a personality was discussed in the piece, but the paper is under no obligation to solicit that person’s point of view on the material that exists in the public domain. REFERENCE: COMMENT: Embedded with the Taliban? –Dr Mohammad Taqi http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\05\27\story_27-5-2010_pg3_2
2008: Whole bloody West was looking for al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid and other such absconders & Jang Group Geo Tv Reporters were interviewing him as if he was sitting in Cafe Khairabad near Jang Press, Karachi. How Ironic that Kamran Khan was not given the documents on Dr Arsalan but he ranted & he while sitting in Karachi telling tales on a subject whose even basic knowledge is lacked in every journalist what to talk of two bit Kamran Khan. Kamran Khan basically prepared case against Pakistan.
Saudi Fatwa on Usaamah Ibn Laadin Al Khaarijee
Kamran Khan & Al-QAEDA - 1 (GEO TV JULY 2008)
2008: KARACHI: Senior al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid has claimed in an exclusive interview with Geo News that Pakistan has damaged the terrorist organisation more than any other country. The operational chief of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan also said that the recent attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad was conducted by his organisation. He also claimed that al-Qaeda was growing in strength in Afghanistan and would soon occupy the entire country. He strongly debunked the view that al-Qaeda was actually protecting American interests and said it carried out the 9/11 attacks on the US and that 19 of its supporters launched the devastating attacks. He added that many of his comrades were involved in training the hijackers. These comments were made in an interview with Najeeb Ahmed that was broadcast on Monday on Geo TV's Aaj Kamran Khan Kay Saath programme. This was the first detailed interview in five years of a senior al-Qaeda leader. The 53-year-old Mustafa Abu al-Yazid is also known by the name of Sheikh Saeed. He was born on Dec 17, 1955 in Egypt. In 1981, he was incarcerated for three years in connection with the assassination of the then Egyptian president Anwar Saadat. In 1988, he became a member of al-Qaeda and went to Afghanistan. Later, in 1991, he moved to Sudan where he worked for Osama bin Laden as an accountant. By 1996 he returned to Afghanistan and taken over the responsibility of handling al-Qaeda's finances. Mustafa Abu al-Yazid had claimed his organisation's responsibility for Benazir Bhutto's assassination in Dec 2007. In his interview, Al-Yazid said the morale of fighters in Afghanistan is very high and they are putting up a tough fight against US troops. He said the resistance is gathering momentum and has become unstoppable. Listing the attacks launched by al-Qaeda, he took credit for the attacks on US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He said the Karzai government would meet the same fate as other 'traitors'. There is no government that supports al-Qaeda as the rulers have sold their faith and by doing so they have put themselves beyond the pale of Islam. In his view, the government that has damaged the Mujahideen the most is Pakistan's. Pervez Musharraf first inflicted suffering on the Mujahideen of the neighbouring country. He claimed that it was because of the sacrifices of the Mujahideen that Russia was unable to enter Pakistan. Musharraf's men arrested and subjected them to violence and handed them over to the Americans. What is a bigger example of collaboration with the infidels than this? This is a crime that can never be forgotten, he said. According to him, it was a matter of great honour that his supporters launched an attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad. He congratulated his comrades for successfully executing this mission. He said they had picked a time to attack when there were no innocent Muslims in the vicinity. In any case, there was strict security around the embassy and it was not possible for ordinary Muslims to come near it. He said many eminent Islamic scholars have justified the practice of suicide bombing. The official Maulvis parrot those Fatwa that they are told to. He said the aim is to engage in direct combat but in many places it is not possible to reach the enemy. He maintained that it is not legitimate to target mosques in this way. He denied al-Qaeda's hand in the attack on Aftab Sherpao in a mosque, saying his supporters never target mosques. A statement to this effect was issued to the Pakistani press soon after the attack. He condemned violence near or inside mosques and said defending the sanctity of such places of worship is every Muslim's duty. He paid tributes to Khalid Sheikh and termed him a fearless person who the Muslim Ummah is proud of. He prayed that God's curse fall on the government that handed him over to the US. Reuters adds: The suicide bomber who carried out an attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad last month came from Makkah, an al-Qaeda leader said in a rare interview with Geo News. It was unclear, from what Yazid said, whether the embassy bomber was a Saudi, as many non-Saudis have settled in Makkah, or whether he had been recruited while visiting the city. Yazid said the bomber had come to join a Jihad in held Kashmir or Afghanistan, but became enraged by the publication of blasphemous cartoons in Danish newspapers in 2005. REFERENCE: Al-Qaeda commander claims responsibility for 9/11 attacks Wednesday, July 23, 2008 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=16144&Cat=13&dt=7/23/2008
Kamran Khan & Al-QAEDA - 2 (GEO TV JULY 2008)
Tuesday, May 18, 2010: Editorial: The Hamid Mir affair By Rashed Rahman Hamid Mir, a prominent TV anchor, has seen fit to respond to a story carried by Daily Times (May 16, 2010, “Hamid Mir’s terrifying indiscretions”, plus a transcript of a purported telephone conversation between Mir and an unknown militant of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) with a vicious campaign against the publisher of the paper, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. In his latest column in Jang (May 17, 2010, “Aasteen key saanp”), he has continued his canards against Mr Taseer, including implying he was an “aasteen ka saanp” (snake in the sleeve) of the PPP. While the language and tone of Mir’s campaign against Mr Taseer is deplorable, he also needs correction on a number of other counts. DT’s story that has aroused the ire of Hamid Mir had been circulating on the web and in the new media for days before DT picked it up. The allegation in the story was that the above referred to a telephone conversation, if genuine, that showed Mir giving information on Khalid Khwaja that might have led to his execution on April 30 by the Asian Tigers extremist group who had captured him. Now that the story has been aired, Mr Mir, instead of becoming apoplectic and missing the point, should consider the following. The publisher of DT has a track record of not interfering with the policy of the paper. It remains one of the few newspapers that adhere to the safeguarding of the institution of a professional editor and editorial autonomy. If Mr Mir has a bone to pick, it should be with the editor, not the publisher, and that too while adhering to civilised norms and language. Tilting at the publisher betrays some preconceived prejudice, if not depreciating and denigrating the editorial independence enjoyed by the paper’s editor. In DT’s editorial “Shocking revelations” (May 17, 2010), we argued: “There should be a thorough investigation into the matter by the security agencies. It should first be ascertained whether it was actually Hamid Mir or an impersonator on the audiotape.” We did not pass judgment on the genuineness or otherwise of the audiotape, but left room for the possibility that it was a forgery, as Mir has subsequently claimed amidst his loud protestations of innocence. In an inadvertent admission, however, he says the audiotape is an amalgam of bits and pieces of other conversations (innocent journalistic exchanges, according to him). Even if this is conceded, there is sufficient in the ‘bits and pieces’ to arouse alarm. Surely Mr Mir should welcome the opportunity to clear his name if the tape is indeed a forgery. On the other hand, if it turns out to be genuine, Mir has a lot to answer for and the law should take its course. The country is in the middle of a life-or-death struggle against the homegrown jihadis who have declared war on the state. Journalists, who are engaged in an increasingly precarious and dangerous profession in conflict areas, may be required for professional reasons to keep lines of communication open with the ‘enemy’. However, this does not give anyone, journalist or not, room to transcend the law of the land or the ethics of his profession. If the tape is genuine and Mir did say the things about Khalid Khwaja that are on the tape, a prima facie case is made out for his arraignment on charges that could include being an accessory before the fact to the murder that followed, as well as in possible violation of the Army Act (applicable to civilians in times of war). The statement released by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan denying the contents of the tape and trying to clear our intrepid anchor’s name has done more to muddy Hamid Mir’s case than anyone else could have. With friends like these... Unlike Hamid Mir’s personalised diatribes since the storm broke around his head, which we do not wish to dignify by stooping to the same level, we advocate a thorough investigation to allow Hamid Mir a chance to prove his innocence or otherwise. Whichever way it goes, let the wheels of justice be set in motion to get to the bottom of a sordid and murky episode that reveals nothing more than the possible hidden links of the extremists at war with Pakistan with certain sections of our ‘free’ media. The turn from the pro-jihadi policy of old to open conflict and war against the cancer within our body politic that threatens the state may have left such ‘linked’ parts of the media nostalgic for the past ‘good times’ and desperate to see these enemies of a civilised democratic society succeed by hook or by crook. History, however, appears to have passed on and left these antediluvian warriors whistling in the wind. * Editorial: The Hamid Mir affair By Rashed Rahman Tuesday, May 18, 2010 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\05\18\story_18-5-2010_pg1_4
Kamran Khan & Al-QAEDA - 3 (GEO TV JULY 2008)
Sunday, May 16, 2010 Hamid Mir’s terrifying indiscretions LAHORE: A shocking audiotape of a conversation between Hamid Mir – one of the country’s top TV anchors – and a man purportedly linked to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has revealed that negative information that Mir passed on to the Taliban could have led to the execution of Khalid Khawaja, the retired Air Force official allegedly killed by a group calling themselves the ‘Asian Tigers’. The tape – which has Mir divulging dirt on Khawaja, ostensibly to someone who is going to cross examine him – was first posted by the Let Us Build Pakistan blog, and picked up by other online publications, including Café Pyala. It is still unclear who made the tape, with online speculation suggesting that it could be the militants themselves, or even intelligence agencies who released the recording. Whatever the source may be, it is clear that one of the voices on the tape is Mir’s, a fact corroborated by his allusions to events such as his sacking from the daily Ausaf. In the tape, the person on the other end asks Mir for information on Khalid Khawaja. The content of the conversation suggests that this call was made before Khawaja’s execution earlier this month. Mir goes on to detail what he knows about Khawaja’s background, linking him to the CIA, an international network of Qadianis and an American named Mansur Ejaz, who, Mir claims, even offered to solve the Kashmir issue.
At one point, the voice on the other end claims to have abducted Khawaja. Here, Mir volunteers further information linking Khawaja to the Lal Masjid operation, saying that Khawaja and his wife were the ones responsible for the death of Ghazi Rasheed and the humiliating capture of Maulana Abdul Aziz and his family. Mir then urges the man to cross-examine Khawaja about his relationship with Mansur Ejaz, Qadianis and a CIA agent named William Casey. Mir also mentions Javed Paracha – the Kohat-based PML-N lawmaker who offered to mediate Khawaja’s release. Towards the end of the tape, the voice on the other end says that he will relay the information (that Mir has given) to Hakeemullah Mehsud. staff report
Points of interest in the conversation
* Hamid Mir’s disparaging attitude towards Qadianis (in his own words, he considers them worse than kaafirs)
* His nonchalance when suicide bombings or the looting of NATO trucks are mentioned
* Mir’s repeated references to occasions where Khawaja has personally ‘betrayed’ him (He holds Khawaja personally responsible for his departure from the daily Ausaf)
* The high degree of reverence with which Mir refers to Ghazi Rasheed, Javed Paracha and other terrorists, including Abdul Rehman Kennedy REFERENCE: Hamid Mir’s terrifying indiscretions Sunday, May 16, 2010 http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010/05/16/story_16-5-2010_pg1_6
Kamran Khan & Al-QAEDA - 4 (GEO TV JULY 2008)
2010: Hamid Mir saga Dawn Editorial : The controversy surrounding television anchor and columnist Hamid Mir refuses to go away, and for good reason. Many questions remain unanswered. A purported telephone conversation between him and an unknown militant has shocked the country and the journalistic community in particular. If the person on the line is indeed Mr Mir, an explanation is in order about his possible ties with militant organisations. He must also answer allegations that the information he ostensibly provided may have contributed to the killing of Khalid Khawaja, a former ISI official belonging to the air force who had been abducted by the Taliban. Mr Khawaja, believed by many to be a Taliban sympathiser, is repeatedly described as a CIA agent by the man who sounds uncannily like Hamid Mir.
Mr Khawaja and his wife are also held responsible in part for the bloodbath at Islamabad`s Lal Masjid. The person on the phone also spews venom of the vilest kind on the Ahmadi community. Slain Taliban leaders are referred to as martyrs.
Mr Mir denies most of the conversation and has served legal notice on the paper that broke the story. He claims that he and the organisation that employs him are being victimised for their consistent criticism of the PPP government and President Zardari in particular. Hamid Mir, who is not short of detractors even within the media, also maintains that the audio `recording` is the work of the Intelligence Bureau which took a voice sample and then produced an entire conversation with the help of a “special gadget.”
Mr Mir has every right to proclaim his innocence but that alone will not suffice. In this digital age it is child`s play for independent experts to confirm whether or not the voice on the tape is Mr Mir`s. It is just as simple to distinguish a doctored recording from an unedited conversation. The credibility of the media is at stake here. What is needed is an investigation that is carried out with an open mind and whose outcome is accepted and acted upon by all parties. This is imperative if allegations of unethical conduct by the media and charges of dirty tricks by the government are to be laid to rest. REFERENCE: Hamid Mir saga Dawn Editorial http://archives.dawn.com/archives/30111
Kamran Khan & Al-QAEDA - 5 (GEO TV JULY 2008)
GUARDIAN Monday 17 May 2010: Lahore Pakistan's pugnacious media world was plunged into controversy today when a leaked audio tape apparently linked its most popular television presenter with the execution of a Taliban hostage. The tape purports to be a recording of a phone conversation between the journalist, Hamid Mir, and a Taliban spokesman about the fate of Khalid Khawaja, a former intelligence agent being held by the Taliban. In the tape Mir describes Khawaja as a CIA collaborator, questions his Islamic credentials, and accuses him of playing a treacherous role in the 2007 Red Mosque siege in which more than 100 people, including the chief cleric, were killed. When the abductor asks the journalist whether Khawaja should be released, he urges him to further interrogate him. Last month Khawaja's bullet-pocked body was found on a roadside in Waziristan with a warning note to other "American spies". As debate about the tape swirled in media circles, Mir issued a strenuous denial saying the tape had been fabricated by his enemies in government to destroy his reputation and silence him.
"I never said these things to these people. This is a concocted tape," he told the Guardian. "They took my voice, sampled it and manufactured this conspiracy against me."
But several senior journalists said the tape sounded authentic and one called on the government to investigate further. "There are serious allegations to be answered," said Rashed Rahman, editor of the English-language Daily Times newspaper. "If this tape turns out to be genuine, it suggests a journalist instigated the murder of a kidnapee. A line must be drawn somewhere." The Taliban added to the controversy by issuing a statement that denied the tape was real but, confusingly, threatened the state telephone company for having taped the conversation. The acrid arguments have thrown Pakistan's normally tight-knit media community into a spin as some of the country's most contentious issues – militancy, politics and the role of the powerful, overwhelmingly rightwing media – have come into focus around the death of Khawaja, a controversial figure in his own right.
Khawaja, a former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agent and chief co-ordinator of a human rights group, who claimed to have met Osama bin Laden, travelled to the tribal belt in March with Sultan Amir Tarar, another former ISI agent, and Asad Qureshi, a documentary filmmaker. Khawaja had promised the journalist an interview with Hakimullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader who was almost killed in a CIA drone strike in northwestern Pakistan in January. However, the three men were kidnapped, and the Taliban demanded money and prisoners in return for their freedom. On 24 April the Taliban issued a video showing a strained-looking Khawaja admitting to having worked for the CIA and betrayed the Red Mosque clerics.
A week later, after his execution, Mir wrote a detailed account of Khawaja's life. He recycled the allegations against the former ISI agent, attributing them to militant sources. Mir has vowed to take his critics to court, but for now the controversy is playing out on the pages of the Pakistani press. Mir said the recording had been doctored by the Federal Investigation Agency, a security agency that has been frequently attacked by the Taliban. But he said the slurs had been politically orchestrated by the Punjab governor, Salman Taseer, and Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, who, he said, had released the tape on a blog.
"This blog has a personal grudge against me and it is being operated from Washington by our ambassador, Husain Haqqani," he said. Haqqani said: "We do not dignify conspiracy theories with comment." He denied any role in the tape recording. Some Pakistani television channels have carried the allegations but others have avoided it. " "For too long we have protected our own," said Rahman. "Now we have to speak out." Mir said he was instituting legal proceedings against the Daily Times. Khalid Khawaja's wife declined to comment. "I don't want to say anything," she said. "This is a very, very dirty conspiracy and I don't want to indulge in it." REFERENCE: Pakistani news presenter accused of link to Taliban hostage's murder Leaked audio tape purportedly reveals phone conversation between Hamid Mir and a Taliban spokesman about hostage Declan Walsh in Lahore Monday 17 May 2010 19.50 BST http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/17/pakistan-taliban-hostage-murder-tape
Kamran Khan & Al-QAEDA - 6 (GEO TV JULY 2008)
The New Media Jihadis Ayaz Amir (PAKISTAN DIARY) / 25 December 2009 There is no such thing as positive journalism, a notion put about, mostly in a whining manner, by government information departments. Journalism is at its most responsible when it is explosive and incendiary, shaking people out of accepted modes of thinking. It is at its most irresponsible when it follows the dotted line. Demagogues and second-rate politicians play to the gallery or dance to the tune of public opinion. The journalist with some respect for his calling looks at the other side of the coin. Priests and other doctors of the cloth may deal in the currency of faith.
The journalist treads on less hallowed ground. His primary tool is language for without it he would be like a soldier unskilled in the use of arms. But his highest education is in doubt and cynicism.
The journalist points the path to no celestial heaven. His Valhalla is here and now. Good intentions he leaves to professional charity workers. For he knows where the best of intentions so often lead. Pomposity and self-righteousness, cant and humbug, and all declarations of excessive virtue bring a smile to his lips.
Falstaff, Shakespeare’s comic hero, was no journalist although if he had been around, with his jaundiced views on life he would be hailed as the unrivalled prophet of journalism. The high priest of the calling, however, would have to be the American H L Mencken who could make fun of presidents and politicians, and journalists, like no one else. To read Mencken even a century later is to get an education into what journalism, if touched by the gods, can be.
Journalism is flourishing in Pakistan today but of what kind is it? Is it a source of enlightenment or a primary cause of national confusion? Some idea of what this phenomenon is we can get from some of the knights of the profession. Modesty is not one of their primary failings.
They give the impression as if they are somehow possessed of the ultimate truth; that they hold a net of commandments in their hands and are thereby entitled to bestow the titles of virtue and sin in whichever direction their unqualified wisdom dictates.
In the hands of these knights a news report is not a news report unless it is laced with editorial opinion of the strongest kind, expressed in language which leaves much to be desired. We have known many forms of arrogance: military, civilian, and bureaucratic, not to mention the arrogance of self-appointed arbiters of the faith.
The arrogance we now face is of a different kind and it comes from what can loosely be called media jihadis, who are as destructive in their own fashion as the Taleban.
Whatever the exalted view that they may have of themselves, what they have helped create is a climate of uncertainty in which the first casualty is democratic stability. They rail against corruption and talk of cleansing the national stables but their real target is President Asif Ali Zardari. We all know that with his colourful past and his familiarity with Swiss bank accounts, Zardari makes for an easy target. But the point lost on our new jihadis is that our national woes did not begin with him and will not end with his departure from the office he holds.
There is another uncomfortable truth to confront. Zardari, whether one likes him or not, is elected President of Pakistan. And he was elected by no process of chicanery but by the freely-expressed wish of a large majority of the presidential electoral college, a choice not forced upon Parliament and the provincial assemblies but a choice they freely made. We can regret the choice but we have to live with it.
If anyone, or a combination of any forces, is out to remove him, there is a path delineated by the Constitution: impeachment. If there are the numbers, and the resolve, to impeach him, this path is there to follow. But if the prerequisites are missing, then good sense and a sense of realism demand that the windmills of conspiracy should take a break and the new media jehadis should rein in their ambitions.
Zardari is going to do us no Roman favour. He is not going to fall upon his sword. This is not going to happen. So the temperature of things should come down. And we should return to the working of the Constitution and the logical playing out of the political process. It would help if Zardari and government were to conduct themselves better and curb the urge to shoot themselves in the foot.
Zardari is no one’s idea of an angel. But then what is the strength of angels in the Islamic Republic? Zardari has a past. But who in the current pantheon—politician, tycoon or even jurisprudential giant—is without some kind of a past or the other? All their lordships in the Supreme Court once-upon-a-time were counted as PCO judges, taking oath at the altar of Musharraf’s first PCO. But no one is saying that because of that they should commit hara-kiri. On the contrary, the nation is wishing them well and urging them to do their best in the performance of their duties.
There’s another thing we shouldn’t forget. When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated many political parties thought that there was no point in participating in the elections. Even the PML-N, thinking that an election under Musharraf would be an exercise in futility, was in favour of a boycott. At that juncture the most powerful voice urging everyone to participate was Zardari’s. We should get our history straight. The lawyers’ movement weakened Musharraf. But it did not strip Musharraf of his uniform and it did not lead to the restoration of the judiciary. The judges were restored by the political process as exemplified by Nawaz Sharif’s leadership of the long march.
My lawyer friends may not like it but it was that (Sharif‘s leadership), Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani’s counselling and the strategic intervention on the part of the army chief, Gen Kayani, which restored the judges.
Politicians have been short-sighted in the past but for the most part they are behaving maturely now. Like every party, the PML-N has its share of hawks who see things in black and white. But the overriding sentiment within the party is that come what may, and whatever the charge sheet against an individual, the country cannot afford another derailment of democracy.
The person who has done the most to hold the line is Nawaz Sharif. He may have been anything in the past, and his record may have much that may be open to criticism, but in the afternoon of his years it is hard to deny that he is conducting himself like a statesman. All this is surely not to the liking of the media jihadis. But then it is their turn to grow up and start behaving maturely. REFERENCE: The New Media Jihadis Ayaz Amir (PAKISTAN DIARY) / 25 December 2009 Ayaz Amir is a distinguished Pakistani commentator and Member of National Assembly (parliament). For comment, write to firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=/data/opinion/2009/December/opinion_December153.xml§ion=opinion
Kamran Khan & Al-QAEDA - 7 (GEO TV JULY 2008)
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 officials in FATA would not be tolerated in any case.” ISLAMABAD 00003712 002 OF 003
– 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.“ 2008: US criticised major media group for irresponsible reporting DAWN.COM | 1st June, 2011 http://dawn.com/2011/06/01/2008-us-criticised-major-media-group-for-irresponsible-reporting/