Monday, September 22, 2008

Let me start with an extra-large disclaimer. The purpose of this post is not to exonerate the Pakistan Army or the government of Pakistan from its follies and the misguided policies. It is not to say that whatever is happening in Pakistan’s northern areas is either right or is needed. The sole purpose of this message is to make people think, to not blindly accept any statement, to question the credibility of any 'news' report.

Watch this video.

It is also here:

Whatever this journalist is saying is very alarming for an ordinary Pakistani. The man on the phone is Hamid Mir, a prolific print and TV Pakistani journalist. He is allegedly calling from Bannu. He is speaking in a sensational, emotional tone--hardly a tone to use for serious journalism. In the studio are two people who are taking Mir’s words as gospel and are not ready to ask him any challenging questions.

Questions like: Mr. Hamid Mir, when you say that the country’s writ does not exist between Bannu and Kohat, what exactly do you mean? Mr. Mir, You are obviously using a telephone. Are you paying your phone bill to the Taliban? Are you telling us that there are no government offices left in that area? Or, if there are such offices, the Taliban are now paying everybody's salary? And what about UET, Bannu and Bannu Medical College? Are the Taliban paying the salaries of the staff there too?

Hamid Mir’s credibility has been in question for a long time. In late 2001 Mir claimed he met Bin Laden shortly after 911...and Hamid Mir had sensational news from that meeting. He told the world Al-Qaida already had nuclear bombs. Mir had met a man who lost one eye while a nuclear device was being tested by Al-Qaida. Mr. Mir told us some of the Al-Qaida nuclear bombs were already sent to the west, to be activated at the right moment. Obviously the right moment has not come yet. [But the news that Al-Qaida was armed with nuclear weapons made it to world headlines and Mr. Mir reached stardom.]

After Musharraf’s resignation, I am told, Hamid Mir wrote a long column about how Musharraf spent his first day after leaving the highest office. Reading it, I am told, you would believe Mir was with Musharraf all that time. Well, Mir was not. But the general’s son was with his father. And the son told me that whatever Mir wrote in that column was straight out of Mir’s imagination, there was no truth to it.

How much can you trust Hamid Mir?

Bottom line: The message in the video is plausible but the messenger is not credible. We need verification from other sources.

Photo courtesy of

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