Hamid Mir backtracked – by Farhad Jarral

Earlier, Hamid Mir had decided to send some legal notices for his alleged defamation: the first notice to a leading newspaper of Pakistan, Daily Times, which is owned by Salman Taseer, and the second notice a leading political blog of Critical Supporters of PPP, i.e., Let Us Build Pakistan.

It is to inform that Team LUBP has not received any legal notice from Hamid Mir but he has served a legal notice on the publisher of Daily Times and Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, Editor, Staff Reporter and Chief Executive Officer Business Plus and demanded to pay Rs250 million for damaging his reputation, along with a written apology that should also be published in the same newspaper in 14 days.

However, we the Critical Supporters of PPP are undeterred in our mission to unmask Hamid Mir (and other members of the Pakistani Taliban Union of Journalists). Here is our message to Hamid Mir: We are not going to stay quite as we believe in freedom of speech; truth can never be hidden from the masses. We will always say truth whether it’s related to any journalist, politician or whether is is related to judiciary or army. It is our right and no one can take this right from us.

Here is a related article published in today’s DAWN

Anchor claims damning tape doctored

By Amir Wasim and Nasir Iqbal
Wednesday, 19 May, 2010

ISLAMABAD, May 18: The ripples caused by the emergence of an audio tape on the web last week of an alleged telephone conversation between a prominent Pakistani journalist and a Pakistani Taliban militant has blown into a full-fledged controversy, with the journalist and television anchor now completely denying his involvement and many others calling for a high-level investigation to establish truth.

Hamid Mir, who finds himself in the midst of a raging debate on the issue of journalistic ethics, has moved a step further from describing the taped conversation as doctored or concocted to completely denying that it was his voice. And for all this he is blaming the country’s top civilian intelligence service, the Intelligence Bureau Directorate which, according to him, was part of a larger game to malign him and a few others.

Shocking as it is, the telephone conversation revolves round the alleged dubious role of an Islamic hardliner and former ISI operative Khalid Khwaja, and that too when he was still in the captivity of a little known militant group Asian Tigers. The man posing himself to be Hamid Mir is heard accusing Khalid Khwaja of being a notorious double agent, who had been working for everyone from the American CIA to Qadianis, and having played a dirty role in the Lal Masjid episode.

The large number of websites where this audio tape is currently available describe it as a candid conversation on telephone between Hamid Mir and a Punjabi Taliban. Some have gone to the extent of accusing Mr Mir to be one of the instigators for what happened to Khalid Khwaja, as within days of this supposed conversation a video of Mr Khwaja was released in which he had made similar “confessions” of his involvement in the Lal Masjid saga, and of working for CIA. Within days of this video tape, Mr Khwaja was shot dead and his body was thrown on a road in North Waziristan.

However, Hamid Mir says he neither has anything to do with such a conversation, nor he can even think of getting involved in such an affair. He has also denied the content of a statement, purported to have been issued by the Taliban, who denied this telephone conversation but at the same time blamed the telephone company PTCL for illegally recording telephones of its subscribers.

In fact, talking to Dawn in his office on Tuesday Hamid Mir claimed that the entire tape recording and its uploading on the website was the work of IB and that too at the behest of President Zardari and the government to malign him as, according to him, he has been a bitter critic of President Zardari and others in his programmes.

Mr Mir claimed that the IB had used a special gadget through which they could change the voices. “They took my voice sample and changed it to look my voice through the special gadget,” he said. He warned that more such tapes involving some other journalists and politicians would surface in near future.

Mr Mir further claimed that he had been informed about this purported tape before time by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. “The interior minister took me to his Parliament House chamber on Thursday and told me that an audio tape had been prepared to implicate me in some terrorism-related issue,” he said, adding the minister also told him that his life was in danger. “The minister even advised me to keep some guards with me,” he said.

Mr Mir claimed that the audio tape was first released on a blog being run by some people belonging to the ruling PPP.

In the tape, Mr Mir is purportedly heard asking an unknown Taliban member to interrogate Khalid Khwaja over his links with the CIA and his role in the Lal Masjid siege. The journalist also narrates some incidents to prove that Khalid Khwaja was a CIA agent. In the conversation, Mr Mir tells the unknown person that Khalid Khwaja had arranged his meeting with an alleged CIA man Mansoor Ijaz in Islamabad. Similarly, Mr Mir has also narrated an incident as to how on the request of Khalid Khwaja he arranged a meeting of the widow of an alleged Al Qaeda man, Abdul Rehman ‘al-Kennedy’, with her son in the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Rawalpindi, and that later it was revealed that the woman was a Canadian national and also a CIA agent.

When asked about the contents of the controversial tape, Mr Mir said that in the recent past he had talked about Khalid Khwaja in detail on telephone only with an office-bearer of the PPP. He, however, denied that he had had any meeting with Mansoor Ijaz in Pakistan. He, however, confirmed the other part of the tape and admitted that he had “arranged a meeting of a woman with her son at the CMH on the request of Khalid Khwaja.” But, he said, later he came to know that one of the sons of the woman living in the US was working for the CIA and not that woman as claimed in the audio tape.

Mr Mir said he had met Mansoor Ijaz only once in New York in 1995 where he had gone as part of the delegation of the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto. “Mansoor Ijaz had come to see Ms Bhutto, but instead he met Asif Zardari,” he said.

When contacted, president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Pervez Shaukat refused to comment on the issue, saying they would come out with some statement in the next few days after holding consultations with other office-bearers.

LEGAL NOTICE: Meanwhile, Hamid Mir has served a legal notice on Publisher of Daily Times Salman Taseer who also happens to be the Governor of Punjab, Editor Rashid Rehman and Staff Reporter and Chief Executive Officer Business Plus Mian Ehsanul Haq demanding to pay general damages of Rs250 million as a compensation for allegedly damaging his reputation, along with a written apology within 14 days that should also be published in the newspaper in a similar manner and prominence as the alleged defamatory report was published.

“Our client vehemently denies the conversation made in the alleged communication as fabricated and concocted one,” the legal notice served by Advocate Assad Ullah Jaral on behalf of Hamid Mir said for publishing, what he claimed to be a libellous report titled: “Hamid Mir’s terrifying indiscretions,” along with transcript of alleged communication in the newspaper on May 10, 2010.

Besides on May 17, 2010, a private channel Business Plus also aired the same ‘negative propaganda’ against Mr Mir, the notice said, adding the act of defamation in the television programme and news bulletin was deliberate.



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