June 19, 2012
Z B Saigol
KARACHI: It’s not the first time a TV talk show has been hosted at a Press club and it certainly won’t be the last; the timing of Hamid Mir doing so for his ‘Capital Talk’ the other day though has a big question mark hanging over it. Why now?
Caught in the glare of the headlights i.e. positioned prominently in the ‘List of 19’, the opportunity of attempting to clear his name, seek sympathy/support from the gullible elements in the media, and then go on to preach the good virtues of ‘honest journalists’ was just too good for him to miss.
It’s not the first time Hamid Mir has used the Press club and the PFUJ as a crutch. Every time he gets in a bit of spot he resorts to such dramatic props that include sweeping, but insincere overtures to the rest of the media and every time he does some stupid Press club obliges him with the platform.
This time round the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) was just as much to blame as the management of the National Press Club, Islamabad itself. What makes Hamid Mir so special that they could not say no?
Hamid has been on and on about rivals Dunya TV for a while now. Indeed he moved into a new gear soon after the news broke of the leaked ‘staged video interview’ with property tycoon Malik Riaz. For viewers it has become quite obvious that Hamid is the defacto mouthpiece for Geo TV.
Is this becoming of him?
As a senior anchor and allegedly journalist, does it suit him to badmouth other news channels?
Is this professional?
Is it a decent thing to do?
What does it reflect on his personality and status?
“Buss jab bhi uss ko takleef parti hai to wo aisa behave karta hai (Whenever he gets into a bit of a hotspot he behaves likes this),” said a senior Geo producer, adding, “He becomes insufferable.”
“We do not want to comment on Hamid Mir,” said a top Dunya management person in Lahore, “Suffice is to say we have done very well in the recent past and this does not sit well with those in Geo. We think that the surge in our ratings was at the heart of what happened.”
Most journalists were skeptical of Hamid’s call to cleanse the profession of ‘dirty journalists’. “He should heed his own advice,” a reporter from The News informed me.
Hamid has been having a go at Dunya TV almost daily in a tit-for-tat battle of words for most of last week.
Dunya insiders are convinced the leak of the controversial Meher-Lucqman-Riaz tape was engineered by a worried Geo. “There is no way one of our cameramen could have sold us out like that,” a Dunya staff member said.
However, what rankles Dunya most is that the PFUJ has been standing by and has done nothing to prevent Geo from maligning them. “The PFUJ is a body of so-called media persons nobody really knows. It is not representative of the media and definitely not of proper journalists. Their prejudice can be gauged form the fact that they allowed Hamid Mir to get up there and use their platform to put forward his ghissa-pita personal agenda,” the staff member added.
Hamid Mir has ridiculed the idea that he has taken money from Malik Riaz and has challenged anybody to prove it as has that other Geo stalwart Kamran Khan who was also on the ‘List of 19”.
“Agreed, Meher and Lucqman were caught out, but all channels follow the same pre-interview procedures as in the leaked video. We have borne the brunt of that leak. But we too have a question: How come more Geo anchors and hosts feature on that ‘List’ than any other channel. False or otherwise, their names are there…. and we sincerely believe that where there is smoke there is fire,” a Dunya reporter told me on the phone.
Despite the warnings of Aaj TV’s Nusrat Javed that the government will clamp down on the media through the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), it is commonly believed this is just a perception. It’s not going to happen.
The news that the Supreme Court had disqualified Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has already ensured that the so-called Bahriagate scandal has already been pushed into the background.
“Hamid Mir and company are safe to do what they want to do. They are no longer in public focus. Expect life to go on as before. Hamid will do his programs, propagate an agenda that has been dictated and the PFUJ will still be there to hold him up when he next needs them,” summed up a senior print reporter.
(Z B Saigol is a guest writer)
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