Renuka Narayanan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 22, 2008
The Pakistani who had a court case filed against his TV news channel on December 19 for publicly establishing Ajmal Amir Kasab’s Pakistani origin says he is optimistic about a solution to terror simply because he is still alive.
“The students asked me to explain the difference between ‘patriotic journalism’ and ‘real journalism’,” he said. “I said whoever is killing innocent people, whether in India or in Pakistan, has to be exposed. That is real journalism.” Hamid Mir, Islamabad-based editor of Geo Channel, who telecast Kasab’s father from Faridkot village in Okara district of Pakistan identifying his son as the captured terrorist of 26/11, told Hindustan Times: “The mood of the Pakistani people is overall pessimistic. But I am optimistic that there will be a positive outcome because I am still alive.”
“I am being observed with great attention and no one has killed me yet,” he said. Mir was invited to address journalism students at Panjab University, Lahore, on Saturday. “The students asked me to explain the difference between ‘patriotic journalism’ and ‘real journalism’,” he said. “I said whoever is killing innocent people, whether in India or in Pakistan, has to be exposed. That is real journalism.”
Mir squarely blames several Indian TV channels for whipping up public hysteria on both sides of the border.
“Between November 27 and December 4, every bad word said against Pakistan on these channels was taped by Pakistani news channels and then shown to the public here,” he said. “There was general disbelief about the allegation that the Pakistani navy transported the terrorists to Indian waters, because even the common man here knows that the navy are gentlemen and apolitical, they are not like our army.”
“Also there was some fictional Pakistani character called ‘Rehman Chacha’, shown on an Indian channel as the trainer of terrorists. I showed such clips to an Indian journalist here. She said if Indian media was behaving irresponsibly, then we should behave responsibly,” Mir added.
Mir then hosted a discussion on his show Capital Talk on December 4 between Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of Nuclear Physics, Qaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, and Lt. Gen. (retired) Hamid Nawaz, former federal minister for interior, who said that the Mumbai massacre was the work of Hindu extremists, to discredit Pakistan.
But when Professor Hoodbhoy challenged that theory, supported by Mir, “There was an outcry next day in sections of Pakistan’s Urdu press that two Indian agents were sitting on Geo TV,” said Mir.
So why did he air the findings on Kasab’s Pakistani identity, knowing what the fallout would be? “I am not doing this for India. I am doing it for Pakistan,” said Mir. “I have been telling people here that both India and Pakistan have extreme elements. Maulana Masood Azhar’s counterparts are Praveen Togadia and Babu Bajrangi. We have to tell the truth about these people or we are just benefiting those who want Pakistani civil society, media and justice to be suppressed.”