Rally held to condemn life attempt on Hamid Mir
Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: Pakistani journalists and leading figures of various political parties came together here on Thursday and protested against Taliban’s attempt to blow Hamid Mir in a car bomb attack.
The popular Geo TV and Jang Group journalist became a target of the militants after he provided platform to Malala Yousufzai on his Capital talk show and condemned Taliban for their actions. Islamabad police were able to defuse the bomb, which was attached under the seat where Mir often sat but he was only very lucky to have survived a well-planned assassination attempt.
Attempt on Mir’s life has been condemned widely and international journalist organisations have shown support for Mir’s independent stance.
The protest was organised by Pakistan Journalist Association (PJA) but journalists from Pakistan Press Club also attended, along with representation from Pakistani political parties and staff from Pakistan High Commission.
Protestors also called on the government to provide security to Geo Karachi reporter Zil-eHyder who was recently shot at close range by suspected sectarian militants and his name, alongside several other journalists, is part of the list issued by a deadly banned militant group. They called on the government to provide security to all such journalists but more importantly crackdown on the groups responsible for such threats.
Journalists also threatened those politicians, even in the UK, who issue threats to journalists in public meetings and run vendettas against them. A such example came recently when a leading Pakistani origin Labour peer used a public event to baselessly attacked two prominent journalists, issued threats to them called them vulgar names. Journalists said the use of such language is condemnable anywhere in the world.
Coinciding with protest against attack on Mir, senior politicians on this occasion issued special messages to show support for the independent journalism of Geo TV and Jang Group of Newspapers.
Senior Cabinet Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said: “It deeply concerns me that a renowned and respected journalist like Hamid Mir can be the target of such a deplorable act. A vivid and free press is one of the success stories in Pakistan and we must do all we can to defend it. I had the pleasure of being a guest of Hamid Mir’s flagship programme ‘Capital Talk’ in my recent visit to Pakistan. I know how committed he is to his profession and Pakistan.”
Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister Government Whips Office and spokesman Ministry of Justice (MOJ), International Development (DFID), Communities & Local Government (DCLG), said the failed bomb attack on Hamid Mir provides yet another example of the deteriorating situation in Pakistan in relation to the freedom of expression, speech and religion — “where anyone who stands up for the founding principles of Pakistan as envisaged by its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah is then targeted by extremist groups. “These extremist groups are intent on destabilising Pakistan and tarnishing the name of our noble faith, which they claim to represent. They should reflect very carefully on both the words and the actions of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him) who taught respect for other faiths and beliefs.”
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan said Hamid Mir has shown that he is a courageous journalist and he has “always highlighted issues of public concern”. Wajid said the fight against extremists is all of Pakistan’s and people like Hamid Mir have played a crucial role in educating Pakistanis about the dangers of extremism. “We fully support him and our prayers are with his fearless journalism.”
Journalist raised slogans against those elements who have consistently tried to undermine journalists for their independent work. They described Hamid Mir as a brave journalist who doesn’t fear death for his beliefs. They called on the government to arrest those who are responsible for hatching the murder plot against Mir.
Journalists in their speeches said that extremist groups affiliated with Taliban and al-Qaeda were operating with impunity and it was important that there was a united voice against extremism of every kind. They said that attack on Mir is a message to all journalists. Journalist said Mir had bravely highlighted the issue of Balochistan and he, more than any other journalist, had spoken in favour of journalists who face persecution across Pakistan.