17 minutes agoAuthor: Sandhya Dwivedi
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The media is once again under the siege of the army in Pakistan. This time his target is Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist and anchor of Jio’s popular show ‘Capital Talk’. Hamid Mir is accused of making rhetoric against the army after participating in a protest against the attack on a journalist.
Hamid Mir has also been taken off air from his channel. Hamid has been writing his columns in many Pakistani newspapers, for the time being his columns have also been closed. It is being said that the army has done this by putting pressure on the management of media institutions. It is discussed that soon the army can file a case of sedition and rebellion against Hamid Mir.
Dainik Bhaskar spoke to Hamid Mir about this episode. He says that ‘we are not against the army. Nor have I spoken anything which amounts to waging war against any institution. We are fighting against a particular ‘mindset’. Here are the exclusive excerpts from this conversation…
Your very popular show ‘Capital Talk’ which aired on Jio TV has gone off air, why?
There was a lot of pressure on the management of the channel. I have never been given any show cause notice by the channel before because I have never used that platform in such a way that they have to take any action.
You have seen many governments. How do you see the current government? How is the current government’s relationship with the media compared to the previous government?
I have lost my job twice before. The first time in 1994 when Benazir was the Prime Minister and the second time in 1997 when Nawaz Sharif was the PM. I was fired from a newspaper, but got a job in another place easily. Even during Musharraf’s regime, my TV anchoring was banned twice. Although, I was not stopped from writing in the newspaper, but this time I have been banned from both TV and news paper.
No regulatory body or court has issued any notice in writing to me. Daily Jung has stopped publishing my column. This is the difference between the previous government and the present government. I have been banned in every form of mass media. Media is constantly losing freedom and Prime Minister Imran Khan is helpless.
PM Imran Khan is your fan. But they are not helping you in this difficult time, why?
Personally, Prime Minister Imran Khan ji supports me even today. But, I understand their limitations. In 2014, I was attacked with intent to murder. I escaped. Then, Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister. Imran Khan was with me in that difficult time, but he failed to get the attackers arrested.
Earlier in 2012, a bomb was planted in my car. Then, Yusuf Raza Gilani was the Prime Minister. We had domestic relations with him. They too were helpless. It is sad that the Prime Minister of the country is helpless. The situation of current Prime Minister Imran is also no different from that of former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Gilani.
An Indian expert says that it is clear from Hamid Mir’s statement that the plan for peace with India is more a personal project of Army General Bajwa than the Pakistani government. This peace plan is neither getting political support nor widespread acceptance. Are there opposition from you and the media in some other direction? What is the matter after all?
In my speech on May 28, I did not name anyone. Only said that no one can forcibly impose his policy on Pakistani media. How can it be taken to mean that the media is not supporting peace talks with India? I myself supported the ceasefire on the LOC in February 2021. Also did a show by going to LOC in 2021. In this I exposed many positive aspects of this ceasefire. But, it is unfortunate that this back channel process was not supported by the leaders here. How can the media support the peace talks with India if the leaders do not want to come together?
Pakistani media has shown courage many times. Many journalists were also killed while fighting against the government. Right now you yourself are facing the ban. How long will you and the Pakistani media survive under such pressure?
Pakistani media has sacrificed a lot for its independence. From 1990 to 2021, more than 140 journalists were killed while doing their duty. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists is committed to continuing this struggle. Even at this time the entire journalist community is standing behind me.
The current situation of the protests and media in Pakistan can be considered as a glimpse of the change coming in Pakistani politics. Is the process of transformation going on regarding the balance of power between the Army, Civil Establishment and Religious Leadership?
Political parties are not very strong here. But we get a lot of support from the journalist community, lawyers, students, civil society here. We are not fighting against the army. It is not like waging war against any institution. We are fighting against a mindset. We want ‘Rule of Law’ within Pakistan. That’s all our fight is all about.
How do you approach your journey, what is it that inspires you?
Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar (leader of the Khilafat movement during the freedom struggle) is my role model. During the British rule, he was arrested several times for his speeches and writings. Bal Gangadhar Tilak is also my role model. When Bal Gangadhar Tilak was tried for sedition, then Mohammad Ali Jinnah fought the case in his defense in the court. I am ready to face the charge of sedition. Jinnah’s followers will defend me in court.