Who’s behind campaign against Shirin Mazari, Hamid Mir? | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Who’s behind campaign against Shirin Mazari, Hamid Mir?

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: A recent online abusive trend on social media against Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shirin Mazari and senior anchorperson Hamid Mir forced ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to identify some groups and individuals within its own ranks creating hatred and divisions when the state needs unity to fight against COVID-19.

An abusive campaign against Dr. Shirin Mazari and Hamid Mir was started on social media after the speech of Maulana Tariq Jamil at the end of a three hours long telethon last week. Maulana Tariq Jamil made a long speech before his Dua in which he said things that many perceived as anti-woman and anti-media. He also that claimed that one owner of a TV channel told him that he cannot run his channel without lies. There remarks were immediately appreciated by social media accounts using Imran Khan pictures and PTI flag as their display picture on Twitter.

Human Rights Minister Dr Shirin Mazari rejected the statement of the religious scholar and wrote in a tweet that “we will not accept the targeting of women on the pretext of such ludicrous accusations”.

Journalist Hamid Mir also raised this issue in ‘Capital Talk’ on Geo News same evening and asked Maulana Tariq Jamil to reveal the name of the owner who confessed that he cannot run his channel without falsehood. Interestingly Senator Faisal Javed Khan was also present in ‘Capital Talk’ and he didn’t say anything in defence of Maulana Tariq Jamil, despite the fact that he was the one who was hosting the telethon in PM House and he invited Maulana for making the speech. In fact, Senator Faisal Javed lauded the roll of Hamid Mir in many fund raising campaigns in the past.

Hamid Mir only asked a question to Maulana but another journalist Javed Chaudhry invited Maulana Tariq Jamil on telephone same night in his TV show on Express News and forced him to say that name at least two journalists don’t speak lies. Maulana said “One is you Chaudhry Sahib and the other is Hasan Nisar”. This statement created a new controversy. Next day Maulana was invited in the TV show of journalist Muhammad Malick on Hum News where Hamid Mir was also present. Hamid Mir never asked any question and Maulana Tariq Jamil voluntarily said that “I don’t want any debate I have no arguments I simply apologise to Hamid Mir Sahib and everyone in the media who were offended by my remarks I think I made a mistake”. Hamid Mir politely requested Maulana to name the owner who told him that he cannot run his channel without lies. Maulana said “I am sorry I cannot mention the name, as it was a private conversation. He once again apologised. Both Muhammad Malick and Hamid Mir appreciated Maulana Tariq Jamil and conversation was over. But the apology of Maulana created a big storm on Twitter and Facebook pages. Some groups were activated on WhatsApp who started abusing both Dr. ShIrin Mazari and Hamid Mir. Some trolls attacked not only Hamid Mir but they also started abusing Muhammad Malick, Javed Chaudhry and Kamran Shahid. ARY News contacted some religious scholars and asked them to condemn Hamid Mir. Many well-known scholars refused to condemn Hamid Mir. But few unknown Mullahs started issuing statements demanding an apology from Hamid Mir to Maulana Tariq Jamil. Then some TV anchors who were not invited in the telethon at PM House entered the controversy. They made tweets in support of Maulana Tariq Jamil.

It was no more a secret that at least two TV channels (ARY and Bol) started a dirty and abusive campaign against Hamid Mir out of professional jealousy. Bol TV used Khalil ur Rehman Qamar who also used derogatory language against all journalists. This campaign on social media included life threats from trolls who used PTI flags and Quranic verses on their pages. PTI leadership watched all this silently despite the fact that it was their moral duty to defend those who helped the prime minister for raising funds. Finally, Central Information Secretary of PTI Ahmad Jawad jumped in the controversy by making a tweet in support of Hamid Mir. He wrote “did PM ever criticize Hamid Mir? He was a great support to PTI in our initial days”. In another tweet he said “I would never encourage culture of abusing and bullying against anyone including media”.

When Ahmad Jawad took a stand he also came under attack by the attackers who were using fake names and identities, and posing as PTI activists. The PTI information secretary engaged many people on Twitter and asked why were they using dirty language against Dr Shirin Mazari and Hamid Mir? Most of them had no answer and some of them changed their behavior. Ahmad Jawad realised that total number of “cyber commandos “active in that online abusive trend were not more than 40. They were part of a particular group who was retweeting and endorsing each other. They were not part of PTI’s official social media team but they used the name of PTI to malign PTI’s own senior minister. It is learnt that Dr Shirin Mazari also spoke to some concerned quarters in the PM Secretariat and asked them to find out the mastermind behind that dirty compaign. Both Shirin Mazari and Hamid Mir became target of hashtag trends again and again in last few years. Both have something in common. Both are known for their bold stance against Indian aggression in Kashmir but whenever they question some sacred cows they become traitors for infamous patriots.

Another PTI minister Fawad Chaudhry have also identified some people on social media who use the name of the party but don’t follow the party line. Fawad Chaudhry thinks that the services of these people are available to everyone for few thousand rupees but time has come to discourage these people who are making divisions in our society at time when we need unity. It is important to note that Pakistan recently lost three points on world press freedom index. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also claimed in its annual report that threats for media freedom increased in 2019. It’s a challenge for new media managers of PM Imran Khan installed in the Information Ministry to find out those people who are trying to create misunderstandings between the media and the government.

Newspaper: The News

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