November 30, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Everybody has condemned the bid on Hamid Mir’s life. Everybody is rightly worried about his safety and wellbeing – from the president of the country to the president of the National Press Club.
And they should be as the values of freedom of expression, respecting difference of opinion and the courage to objectively report should be defended at all costs. That is how civilized societies move forward collectively.
But how the incident has been played out is unfortunately becoming an irritating case of publicity than freedom of expression. Ridiculously the anchor is being presented as a lone ranger who is out to fight against injustice and evil powers and rid Pakistan of all its problems.
The Interior Minister goes to this anchor’s home the day explosives were found planted on his car. Of course media are there. The minister announces reward for information leading to the perpetrators of this heinous bid.
But when one reads Hamid Mir’s column in Jang – (http://jang.com.pk/jang/nov2012-daily/29-11-2012/col2.htm) - one is appalled how he pays tributes to himself, albeit in all humbleness but at the same time not forgetting to drop names including President Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Altaf Hussain, Fakhurddin G Ibrahim and the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who expressed their concern about his safety. All these very respectable figures took time out to show how worried they were about the veteran journalist.
And in his article (http://jang.com.pk/jang/nov2012-daily/29-11-2012/col15.htm) Ansar Abbasi, highlighting the Islamic and social credentials of Hamid Mir, is crestfallen why he should be placed among the ranks of “enemies of Islam”.
Not to be left behind, Umar Cheema found it very hard to hold back tears when he heard the attempt on the life of a colleague who is a “precious jewel” of Pakistani journalism (http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-145396-Hamid-Mir-our-precious-jewel).
Cheema has been widely appreciated for his fight for freedom of expression but this article can only get him the award for flattery.
The National Press Club took out a rally in support of Hamid Mir on November 28 in Islamabad, which got wide publicity. However, Express News TV anchor Talat Hussain seemed to be a sane voice out there, calling for a probe into the incident (http://www.saach.tv/2012/11/27/hamid-mir-par-mubaiyana-hamla/).
One supports this outpouring of shock over such a coward attempt to silence the leading journalist’s voice. But one also wonders why this support is missing when lesser known journalists are threatened, injured and killed in the line of the duty.
Brief news items inform us they have been killed. Afterwards they become mere nameless figures, only to be used by the national and international organizations working for journalists’ rights, telling us Pakistan is one of the dangerous countries to practice journalism.
The National Press Club seldom holds rallies to condemn killings of such journalists and nobody sends flowers to their families. Nobody writes in their favour. Nobody extols them for doing their work with dedication and giving the ultimate sacrifice. Nobody announces bounty for catching their killers.
It is a matter of shame that unions of journalists and the press clubs did not say a word over the killing of the sixth witness in the case of journalist Wali Khan Babar’s murder case (http://dawn.com/2012/11/19/witness-protection-2/).
One wishes that all journalists remain safe as they perform their duties, but one may also point out that journalism is not about self projection as if to become political leaders and take on all problems Pakistan is facing and claim to end them.
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