Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the shooting attack on leading journalist Hamid Mir, the host of Geo TV’s political talk show “Capital Talk,” as he was driving to his office shortly after landing at Karachi airport on 19 April.
The local police said four individuals on motorcycles opened fire on Mir’s car hitting him in the stomach and legs. He was rushed to a local hospital for an emergency operation and his life is reportedly no longer in danger. His assailants have not been arrested.
Mir had told Reporters Without Borders on 7 April that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s leading intelligence agency, was “conspiring (...) to cause me harm.” After the shooting, his brother, Amir Mir, told Geo News: “Mir had previously told us that if he is attacked, the ISI, and its chief, Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam, will be responsible.”
“Although shocking, this attack unfortunately comes as no surprise,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “Hamid Mir has been the constant target of press freedom’s enemies, starting with the Taliban and the intelligence agencies.
“We take note of the prime minister’s decision to create a special commission of enquiry, but we point out that this is not an end in itself. The government must be ready to take concrete action on the basis of the commission of enquiry’s findings.”
Mir has been the target of various threats for the past two years. His investigative reporting on the intelligence agencies has been extremely sensitive. A court in Quetta, in the southwestern province of Balochistan, issued a warrant for his arrest on 7 April following an article about enforced disappearances blamed on the ISI.
The case may have been the reason for attacks on Mir, who said he knew that someone could target him. There are parallels with Mir’s appearance for a hearing in Quetta in September 2012, when he was the target of an attack and was saved by a police officer who was murdered shortly thereafter. According to Mir, a judge who refused to issue a warrant for his arrest was also murdered.
A bomb was found under his car (and defused before it could explode) in November 2012, shortly after he expressed strong criticism of the Taliban shooting attack on schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai.
Pakistan is ranked 158th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. With seven journalists murdered in 2013, it is also one of the world’s deadliest countries for media personnel.