Keep Talking and Keep Listening!

They say listening is more difficult than talking. But what is even harder in today's world is to communicate - an intense process of listening and talking and listening and responding........
This is a forum for people to engage in a conversation which is an art that many people don't know. Lets listen to others while maintaining the courage of conviction.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Did Hamid Mir have a Conversation with the TTP?

The Story
A popular Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir is caught on audio talking to a member of a Taliban group popularly known as the TTP.
Mir and his friends blame the Zardari government especially the Punjab (largest province of Pakistan) governor Salman Taseer for a conspiracy since his paper publish the story. Here's my analysis:
Is the man conversing with, whats alleged as a member of the Punjabi Taliban, Hamid Mir? The simple answer is yes. The man in the tape is Hamid Mir beyond doubt. The voice and style of conversation is his. I have had conversations with him on several occasions and he breaks stories in this very style. The conversation should not surprise people as Hamid Mir has old links with the Islamiscts and the intelligence agencies. In the world of the armed forces information is difficult to access. Relatively better access to information comes at a price which Hamid Mir and many other journalists in the world, particularly Pakistan pay happily. There is not a single journalist, especially on the electronic media who comments on national security and is not fed by the military. I remember one very popular journalist who even writes for foreign press. He is considered an authority on military affairs. The poor chap cannot tell the front of a submarine from its back. Planting people in the media and intelligentsia is an old trick. The only matter of concern really is that how and why is the audio recording made available on the net? The real story is the disclosure rather than the conversation.

This telephone conversation could have been tapped by several intelligence sources including the ISI, MI and IB and the question is which one leaked it and why. Is there anything interesting happening between the PPP government and Hamid Mir due to which the conversation was leaked? The other possibility is that one of the army-run agency leaked it. The first explanation is that they wanted to deflect attention from themselves on Hamid Mir. It seems from the conversation as if Mir caused Khalid Khwaja's death by instigating the alleged Punjabi Taliban. The insistence on KK's links with Ahmedis and Americans could do the trick of inciting the Taliban against KK. But I am sure that was not Hamid Mir's intent. He was just trying to show-ff to the Taliban the superiority of his information. Such show-off comes with the territory that he operates in. But the conversation was then conveniently leaked so that it may appear as something in which the intelligence agencies had no involvement thats is in the killing of KK.

The other explanation is that the conversation indicates some chasm within the intelligence establishment. The conversation basically signifies the presence of multiple groups within the intelligence agencies. There are, at least, three ideological groups within the agencies: (a) the Islamiscsts, (b) the pro-West, and (c) pro-China. These groups exert influence and lobby for their perspective. This means that the flow of information to the top brass is conditioned by the ideological bias of the groups. The information-intelligence is then measured against the policy perspective of the top leadership of the army. Thus, Hamid Mir is not the only journalist working for the agencies. There are others as well. The case in point pertains to that of a female journalist who is dealt with by the external security wing of the ISI. Each ISI division has its own set of journalists. This lady was eventually encouraged by the agencies and the army chief to build familial links with Indian politician through marriage. Her marriage with a famous Indian political figure was made in the GHQ.

But going back to Hamid Mir, his conversation reflects the bias of Pakistan's establishment. There is nothing which he says that is annoying by the establishment's standards. The state has a bias against its minorities which reflects in the conversation. Lets not forget that the Hamid Mir conversation is just the end result of years of Jamaat's infiltration in the establishment. It were during the Zia years (1977-81) that more than 800 changes were made in the text books by a board that pre-dominantly represented the Jamaat. Today, the establishment is essentially Islamisct. The dealings with the US or even China reflect the military's utilitarian approach. It will happily use any of these states to build itself. Most countries behave this way. The name of the game is realpolitik which focuses on power of the state rther than power of the people. The Pakistani state had begun to steer towards Islamism at a very early stage after its creation. Naturally, the ideology rubbed on different elements in the society as well. This is what we can see in Hamid Mir's conversation.

Khalid Khwaja was always with the ISI. He may have been steered by the pro-West elements within the ISI to negotiate some deals with the TTP. There are also rumors that during one of his previous visits, he was suspected of planting an intelligent devise for the US to locate one of the TTP leaders. The discussion of his involvement in misleading Maulana Abdul Aziz does not make sense because Abdul Aziz led his funeral prayers. There is something that doesn't make sense in the story. Whats more important to remember are that the jihadis (aka Pakistani Taliban) are well-entrenched in Pakistan's intelligence system and even its establishment. No wonder, Pakistan's courts have been acquitting jihadis like Lashkare Jhangavi's Malik Ishaq. Recently, the courts acquitted those accused of involvement in the Marriott bombing case and the suicide attack against Lt. general Mushtaq Baig. These decisions could have been changed if the agencies were willing to sort out the jihadis. The segment within the agencies which supports jihad and jihadis has now strengthened. The army and its intelligence agencies now have a dependence on these jihadis. The questions which many ask is that why get their men killed. This is nothing new. There was similar friction in the case of the Algerian military and the Islamiscts. The reason that this particular battle in Pakistan is contained to a few people is because of the influence of the Islamiscts on the army.



  1. Dear Ayesha,

    Hamid Mir is wrongly pointing finger at PPP government, Daily Time(Salman Taseer) and LUBP as audio-tape was first posted at Facebook on ISI's page !!!!!
    And before LUBP ( this audio-tape was posted on many blogs including PkPolitics !!!!

  2. Hamid mir has been serving the interests of agencies since long. His links with militants are not shocking for me but leakage of this audio tape is certainly something the motive behind which is yet to be known. I think agencies have involvement in this too. And hamid mir as expected has denied his involvement in it. Interestingly, even TTP came out to defend hamid mir. And the un-edited version of their press release is entertaining.\05\18\story_18-5-2010_pg1_3
    The independent media surely will not consider it an issue worth discussing. There are few voices who have dared to speak.

  3. Ray,
    I think you are right about Gen. Kayani. See below:

    Lt. Gen Pasha can be next in line.

  4. BTW - what is this about Maj. General Athar Abbas planting his three little brothers in key media role:

    Zaffar Abbas is the chief of DAWN

    Azhar Abbas is the chief of GEO

    Mazhar Abbas is almost the chief of ARY

    And, guess what their older brother Athar Abbas is the chief of Pakistan Army -ISPR.

    How do you explain this?

  5. By the way, even Athar Abbas's son Bilal has begun to write for daily times.His brothers were always there in the media. There are others with links with the establishment who have gone into the BBC as well.

  6. Azhar Mazhar Zafar always been in the media they were there long before Ather Abbas became Gen, Mazhar Abbas even was the leader of journalists at one stage

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  8. I listened to the audio few times definitely it was Hamid Mir. Whole purpose of his conversation with this man was to somehow convince him that some kind of action should be taken against KK. Hamid specifically mentioned some topics to get his attention may be to settle some old scores with KK. Hamid Mir is a Jamaat man, may be Jamaat wanted KK to be eliminated may be KK was out of control. One thing is quite puzzling for me if Hamid is a ISI man he did wrote extensively against Musharraf in his articles in Jang, we all know Musharraf was the army chief and of-course chief of ISI.