12 basic questions about probe into attack on Hamid Mir | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

12 basic questions about probe into attack on Hamid Mir

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: A majority of journalists are sure that the judicial commission set up by the prime minister will never be able to find the real culprits involved in the attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir and the following 12 major questions are boggling their minds.

The questions haunting the minds of media persons and working journalists are based on the past terrible experiences regarding probes and investigations into attacks on journalists by commissions and investigation teams.

These questions are genuine, as the working journalists believe only senior judges of the Supreme Court can properly investigate the institutions mentioned by Hamid Mir in his video and written messages before the attack and by his brother and colleagues after the attack.

A thorough probe of institutions, their offices, officials and equipment is a must, as successful completion of proceedings of this commission could help to remove any doubts about the role of some institutions forever and this will increase goodwill for these institutions.

Differences among institutions would never rise again if this probe is smoothly allowed to move forward. The questions disturbing the minds of journalists include;

– Will the judicial commission comprise senior judges of the Supreme Court or not? This is important, as the issue has a decades-long history and a previous commissions constituted after the murder of brave journalist Salim Shehzad, which included only one sitting judge of the Supreme Court, did give its findings but could not clearly point out the real culprits and its work could not help strengthen and reform the institutions and could not save journalists from more attacks. Powerful institutions like the ISI are alleged to have played some role, so senior judges and those from the apex court would be more effective to sort out this national issue of security of journalists forever.

– Will the new three-member judicial commission be able to reject or endorse on the basis of the strongest evidence the startling allegations made by Hamid Mir and his brother?

– Will the commission take suggestions and advice of the general public and experts to improve the quality and productivity of its functioning? It is very important for some, as this is a high-profile case and the top state institutions rather state has been alleged to perpetrate the plan to kill a top journalist of the country whose father also had rendered great services for the nation and he was also believed to have been murdered.

In this scenario, some of the suggestions of common people and experts will help the commission to move forward in the right direction to unearth the conspiracy as well as to suggest recommendations to avoid such horrible incidents in the future.

Suggestions should also be sought from the general public to avoid such gory incidents in future. In the past, people have voiced for legislation to make the intelligence agencies accountable to parliament and its committees. These suggestions also included that mechanisms must be adopted to make all state institutions answerable to civilian governments and all steps should be taken to force intelligence agencies to limit their activities within the domain of their professional working.

– Will the report of the commission be made public? It is obvious that all details of the proceedings of the commission could not be made public but if final report could not be publicized, the nation’s money and judges’ time must not be wasted on any futile exercise.

The Umar Cheema Commission report clearly points a finger at the agencies for kidnapping and subjecting him to horrible torture. It is understandable if previous government did not make it public. But, it is absolutely not understandable why the present government is not releasing it for public consumption for the last one year. Apparently, the top bosses in the interior ministry don’t want to spoil their personal relations with the top guns in Pindi and want to continue rubbing shoulders with them.

– Whether the commission will get help of top technical experts in telecom, wireless communication, defence wireless communications sectors, as it is a must to find out as to who traced or tracked the conveyed information regarding the movement of Hamid Mir which were not possible without using some electronic devices? If the help of some foreign independent experts is sought, it will greatly help to find out the real facts.

– Will the commission be given access to the offices, safe-houses, camps, sub-offices of ISI and other intelligence agencies to inspect record? Pakistan Army through an official press release has promised to cooperate. Obviously, inspection would be needed if there are no clues about the other sides. Inspections would increase the credibility of institutions and eliminate any doubts forever but the same should be done in the presence of international level top most experts of their respective fields.

– Will the commission be given technical equipment, cell phones, all telecom and electronic devices in use of officials of these institutions? Because any proceeding of the commission will be totally meaningless without proper forensic investigation of all such devices. If the data has been deleted, it would be serious situation. Forensic examinations can prove the deletions of data in moments.

– It is a matter of fact that after every such high-profile action, the date of call records of cellular companies of area concerned is deleted or tampered with. If it happened so regarding the data of telecom towers near areas from Quaid-e-Azam International Airport to Shahra-e-Faisal, will an international probe be ordered to evaluate as to who approached the technical departments concerned of these companies? There might even be some militant group maneuvering telecom companies data, but if the data is found tampered, such investigations must be ordered.

– Will the commission find out as to who managed and how to make security camera system dysfunctional on route of travel of Hamid Mir and will the commission seek international assistance to find out this fact?

Finding out such facts is mandatory, as this will eliminate any confusion forever and further improve respect and dignity of institutions and the nation will get united.

– Will the mandate of commission be limited to finding facts only? Journalists believe that the commission’s mandate must not be limited and after giving its report it should not only monitor subsequent legal proceedings, but also recommend the government steps and legislation to improve functioning of institutions, safety of journalists, restricting the functioning of institutions to professional domain and rather improving their capabilities to perform their professional functions. The commission may also recommend the constitution of another commission which may monitor the implementation of recommendations given.

– Will all top officials representing these institutions be made available to commission as cooperation has already been promised?

– Will parliament immediately legislate if there are some problems because of any Secret Act clauses? It would be crucially important as if commission is deprived of any information under the garb of secrecy, the whole exercise will become futile.

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