#BanGeo: Bringing Some Balance To The Debate

The national drama around who tried to kill Hamid Mir has divided the nation into two vocal camps: Hypernationalists calling for censorship and punishing anyone who dares to criticise the military and those who are so accustomed to criticising the military that they are defending some of the very same practices that they condemned in the past. Some balance has begun to appear, though, and it is worth promoting these perspectives as part of an effort to find a solution based in reason and not emotion.

First let us address the issue of whether ISI was responsible for the attack. Geo’s airing of this claim was sensationalistic, and the airing of a photo of DG ISI during the reporting was the equivalent of media ‘trolling’. It was designed to create a strong reaction. The problem with responding to trolls, though, is that strong reactions usually backfire, making you look as bad as the troll. The Army would be wise not to fall into this trap.

The Army is understandably unhappy about some of the way the attack against Hamid Mir was reported, but accusing Jang Group of being anti-military is hard to believe when this is the same group that publishes the opinions of columnists like Shireen Mazari, Ahmed Quraishi, and Maleeha Lodhi.

Not only Army, but other media houses should avoid the temptation to engage in opportunistic attempts to benefit from Geo’s troubles. Express’s claim that Jang is ‘running a malicious slander campaign against Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency and its chief’ is itself a malicious slander campaign that is both unnecessary and unhelpful to Express’s own image problems. And all media groups should be careful about participating in a setting a precedent for censorship. Today it may be #BanGeo…but tomorrow it could just as easily be #BanExpress…

It should also be noted that the #BanGeo campaign is not a response to the recent controversy, but has been going on since years before the present situation. Here is a a Facebook page created four years ago that parrots the same talking points.

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Maybe the question should be asked more prominently whose interests are served by this campaign that has been going on for years?

As accusations are thrown and parties try to benefit from the chaos, it should be remembered that when mud is thrown, even the thrower himself ends up dirty. Finally, all sides should take a moment to reflect on the excellent editorial from The Nation today:

If we leave journalism and its ethics to the journalists, and criminal investigations to the police and related authorities, and both do their jobs — we should be fine. At the moment, this is not the case.

Fear of Aabpara

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The attack against Hamid Mir on Saturday was not the first time that the senior journalist has faced a life attack. In 2012, the Taliban attempted to kill him with a car bomb in retaliation for ‘pursuing the secular agenda’. Neither was this the first time Hamid Mir faced such a threat. In 2011, he released evidence consisting of SMS messages and phone numbers that had been threatening his life. This time, though, it wasn’t the Taliban who were allegedly behind the threats, but the ISI.

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We can’t have peace…and jihad too

The results of our involvement in foreign entanglements is well known. The 50,000 Pakistanis whose lives are no more. The cries of mothers. The blood that will forever stain the streets no matter how much we try to wash it away. The toll that has been levied against us has brought us to the current situation in which the government has decided to continue trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution with anti-Pakistan militants despite the fact that the very same militants have said they are not interested in peace. It is easy to point fingers at Musharraf for agreeing to cooperate with the US in their ‘War on Terrorism’, but we can’t stop there.

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No such thing as ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism’. All terrorism is unjustified.

Blast kills 24 at Islamabad fruit market

The terrorist attack that tore through a fruit market near Pir Wadhai on Wednesday morning killed at least 24 innocents going about their daily lives. Hundreds were injured in the blast. TTP was quick to condemn the attack, terming the killing of innocents as haram. However, such statements by Taliban terrorists can be understood as only a cynical ploy to hoodwink the masses when those same Taliban terrorists have confessed to the same crime of bombing markets and killing innocents themselves. This time, responsibility for the blast was claimed by a group of Baloch militants, and was condemned widely. Today, the Interior Ministry has rejected this claim, terming it as ‘ridiculous‘. Meanwhile, another attack has taken place in KP where gunmen attacked NATO container trucks killing a driver. Will this be condemned as strongly as the Islamabad bombing? Too often whether or not an attack is condemned depends on the justification behind the attack. Balcoh separatists are condemned, but those killing truck drivers are excused. Hafiz Saeed condemns terrorism inside Pakistan, but supports terrorism outside Pakistan.

We need to stop picking and choosing which terrorism is condemned and which is excused. There is not such thing as ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism’. All terrorism is unjustified and should be condemned equally.

Imran Khan, Chaudhry Nisar Share Responsibility For Sibi Attack

sibi railway attack

At least 16 were killed and dozens more injured in a blast at Sibi railway station today. This is not the first terrorist attack in Sibi. Actually, it’s not even the first this week. According to Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, terrorists fired on the same train earlier this week. Before that, there were attacks in 2008, 2012, 2013, and January of this year. Additionally, while no one has claimed responsibility for today’s attack, the timing coming the day after reports that FC men killed more than 30 Baloch separatists leads many to suspect that today’s attack was an act of revenge by the same.

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