A38 INSIGHT India Abroad May 2, 2014
Balochistan, the need to prosecute
Musharraf, the rising civil-military discord, etc.
The problem was not just with the stories he was covering, but also the fact that
Mir thought he had become too big to be
touched. His hubris was his undoing, as it
has been of scores of journalists before
Mir who thought that their prominence
put them out of harm’s way.
In Mir’s case, his past must also have
gone against him. He was at one time seen
as the blue-eyed boy of the ISI and an
Urdu newspaper he used to edit some
years ago was alleged to have been funded
by the agency.
What is more, he used to espouse the
cause of jihadi terrorists and had devel-
oped close links with them. When such a
person tries to assert his independence, his
former patrons are bound to be furious
and the attack on him is likely to have a
salutary impact on other journalists who
were outspoken, something that is already
becoming apparent in the sort of guarded
statements and comments that Mir’s col-
leagues have been making on television
and in the print media.
It wasn’t, however, just the military, but
also the terrorists who were reported to be
gunning for him. Although he was quite
adept at walking the tightrope on the issue
of the Taliban, there were times when he
took positions that didn’t go down well
with the Islamists. While the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has denied any involvement in the attack, there are unconfirmed
reports that the Punjabi Taliban have
But this claim doesn’t appear to be very
credible because Mir is known to have
close links with the Punjabi jihadis, something that came out clearly when a tape
emerged of a conversation between him
and the Punjabi Taliban discussing the
links of a kidnapped former ISI official,
Khalid Khwaja, with the Central
Intelligence Agency. Khwaja was later shot
dead by the Taliban.
Although the involvement of the TTP or
its affiliates cannot be completely ruled
out, the circumstances surrounding the
attack on Mir shift the needle of suspicion
away from them. Despite their strong
presence in Karachi — they have claimed
responsibility for at least three or four
attacks on media houses like Express and
AAJ in recent months — for the Taliban to
target Islamabad-based Mir in the port
city would require an intelligence and
operational network capability which is
probably out of their league.
But if indeed it was the Taliban that carried out the attack on Mir, then it means
that Pakistan is in far more serious trouble
than what it is apparent. Apart from the
Taliban, the ISI mouthpieces in the media
have been quick to blame India for the
attack. Some of these loonies have also
named the Central Investigative Agency
Clearly, the intellect and worldview of
these characters (which includes fairly
senior retired military officers) is based on
Bollywood masala movies like Ek Tha
Tiger and Agent Vinod.
Even more hilarious was the bizarre the-
ories that some ‘analysts’ came up with:
Mir was dubbed a RAW agent who was
shot because he had outlived his useful-
ness; one morning show anchor even
doubted that he was injured; another ‘ana-
lyst’ asked whether he staged the incident
himself and accidentally got shot more
than planned; yet another blamed the
Jang/Geo group for the attack so it could
paint the ISI in lurid colors.
More seriously, the fact that ISI touts
have been using this opportunity to train
their guns on India, their favorite whip-
ping boy, raises serious questions about all
the talk of the army being on the same
page as the civilian government on the
issue of improving relations with India.
For some months now, known military
mouthpieces have been carrying out a vit-
riolic and virulent campaign against India
and have been taking pot shots at the
Sharif government accusing it of a sell-out.
While the Manmohan Singh govern-
ment, as is its wont, remained somnolent
on this issue, what is surprising is that the
so-called well informed Indian analysts on
foreign affairs have continued to delude
themselves that Pakistan has changed.
The fallout of the Hamid Mir attack
should serve as a reality check to all
these Indians about how nothing has
changed in Pakistan.
Sushant Sareen is Senior Fellow,
Vivekananda International Foundation, a
New Delhi-based think tank.
Nothing has changed in Pakistan
AKH TAR SOOMRO/REU TERS
Pakistani journalists protest against the attack on Hamid Mir in Karachi, April 21.