A week after the attack on Hamid Mir, posters with slogans saying ‘Pakistan loves the Army’ appear

It’s been a season of rather grievous attacks and outraged denials. After Amir Mir, brother of journalist and anchorperson Hamid Mir who was shot in Karachi on April 19, blamed the ISI for the murderous attempt, the empire has struck back in a big way.

On the same day while ISI director general Zaheer-ul-Islam’s photograph was on air for several hours, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a statement condemning the incident and called for an independent inquiry.

Raising allegations against the ISI or the head of ISI without any basis is highly regrettable and misleading, the ISPR spokesperson said.

Support for army

A week after the attack on Hamid Mir, posters with the DG ISI’s photo and slogans saying ‘Pakistan loves the Army’ appeared in the capital.

Earlier this week there were huge protests in major cities which sought to express solidarity with the ISI and criticised Geo TV.

On Saturday the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), among the groups which put up the posters supporting the Pakistan army, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and other political parties organised a protest ironically on World Press Freedom Day. Amir Mughal, of the PTI said the media cannot attack Pakistan’s biggest institution.

‘Not something new’

Mariana Babar, diplomatic correspondent for The News told The Hindu on the phone that the ISI taking on the media was not something new.

When she started her career under the martial law regime of Zia-ul-Haq, things were more or less the same. The situation appears as if the country has gone back to the 1980s, she pointed out and nothing seems to have changed over the years.

However, she said the media, specially the electronic media should show greater responsibility while reporting news.

Sacred institution

While everyone thought that other institutions in Pakistan had become strong like the media, judiciary, and civil society, Ms. Babar said, as soon as they stepped on the toes of the army, it hit back to show that it is still a sacred institution.

The army remains powerful and possessive about its space, she said.

Already The News and the Jang were being stopped in parts of the garrison city of Rawalpindi and other areas.

On the day after the attack on Hamid Mir, except for The News most other English newspapers played down the incident and chose to highlight the ISPR statement. Senior journalists are of the opinion that while it was natural for Mr. Amir Mir to make such statements, an investigation must first be carried out to ascertain facts.There are few who did not condemn the attack on Hamid Mir but the vindication of the ISI has been ferocious.

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