Son of the slain former ISI officer, Khalid Khwaja–who was killed a couple of weeks ago in North Waziristan by “Asian Tigers”–has said he will go to court against the renowned Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir. This comes after the audio-tape leaked in Pakistani media in which allegedly Hamid Mir is talking with a member of Taliban. In the audio-tape conversation, published by some Pakistani newspapers, Hamid Mir accuses Khalid Khwaja of being a CIA agent and close to Ahmadiya sect. Khwaja’s son, Usama Khalid says Mir published a report in The News and Jang newspaper on May 02 with same contents discussed in his conversation in the tape. Mr. Mir says the audio is fake, while his employer Jang Media Group, that runs top Pakistani newspapers Jang and the News and the most watched Geo TV has said it will investigate the issue. Hamid Mir hosts a prime time talk show “Capital Talk” live from Islamabad on Geo TV every night.
The audio-tape be fake or true, however its true that there are some top Pakistani journalists having idealogical orientations with extremists. These journalists, whose shows and columns i follow regularly include Hamid Mir, Dr. Shahid Masood, Zaid Hamid, Amir Liaqat Hussain, Ansar Abbasi, Abdul Qadir Hassan and some others. Mr. Mir has interviewed Usama Bin Ladin twice. When nobody had access to Baitullah Mehsood, former Amir of Taliban in Waziristan, this guy went to North Waziristan, interviewed him and came back safe and sound. How is it possible unless you are close to extremists?
In the tape, Mr. Mir conecting Khalid Khwaja with Ahmadiya sect makes derogatory remarks against this minority religious sect in Pakistan. In one of his shows “Aalim (scholar) Online”, another hate-monger top journalist Amir Liaqat Hussain had made remarks full of hatred against Ahmadiya sect, due to which there was a wave of violent incidents and several followers of this minority sect were killed across Pakistan last year.
These journalists host prime time shows on top TVs in Pakistan and write daily columns on top Pakistani newspapers. They are very much responsible for the promotion of idealogical extremism in Pakistan. They not only write and defend Taliban and other terrorist groups, but also make conspiracy theories linking anything that happens in Pakistan to America and Israel. A liberal senior Pakistani journalist Nadeem Paracha has written a good note about this all.
Coming to the Khalid Khwaja mystery, former ISI officer was kidnapped by militants in Waziristan, and later found dead with bullets on his head and chest. Just a week before his death, “Asian Tigers”, the militant group that claimed responsibility of his abduction, released a video of Khalid Khwaja confessing his “role” against the militants and that he works for CIA. It shocked everyone in public, as people were habitual of his media statements favoring Taliban and condemning the US. Online Jihadi Forums are still confused. Activists on these online forums talk in favor, while some against Khalid Khwaja.
In that video confession, Khalid Khwaja admits he worked for CIA and ISI. He also talks about the Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad in which hundreds of armed students were killed. Apparently under fear and depression, Khalid Khwaja seemed to be forced for the confession statement. It also shows how vast impacts the Lal Masjid operation conducted in 2007, had on militants. Dozens of armed students of the Madrassah were killed in the commando operation ordered by former President Pervez Musharraf. Lal Masjid issue later led Musharraf’s resignation as President. In the video, Khwaja also talks about the Kashmiri militant leaders like Maulana Masood Azhar and others, that they are given free hand by ISI and military for activities in Pakistan.
However, “Asian Tigers” is still a mystery. It seems more like any Kashmiri Jihadi outfit, given its English name and the statements about Kashmiri leaders in that video. After it was aired on media that Col. Imam and Khalid Khwaja, the active supporters of Taliban, have been arrested, some Taliban groups like the Haqqani Network started efforts to release the abductees, but failed. It’s most probably the Kashmiri groups, as they are welcome in Waziristan and other Taliban controlled areas, but Taliban do not control them militarily or keep an eye on their “Jihadi” activities. Previously Taliban leaders have not talked about Kashmir in their video statements. Secondly, a purely Taliban group would never come up with name of English words. Many of the Jihadis in Kashmir are those baccalaureate-educated youngsters who join the “Jihad” after being “impressed” by the promises of heaven and need of war against “infidels” by Jihadi Mullah recruiters for Kashmiri outfits. But strange is, if it was a purely Kashmir-related militant group, why the abductors demanded release of Taliban leaders arrested recently. There were names of some Punjabi-Taliban groups. They are mostly those anti-sectarian outfits involved in terror attacks in Pakistan. It could also be any smaller new group of militants related to Lal Masjid. Many students, who were armed inside the Madrassah just before the operation, were let go home without a proper investigation, partly due to heavy public pressure on former President Pervez Musharaf. While many of those who lost brothers and sisters in the mosque during the operation are on their “holy” mission of “revenge”! Though most Pakistani journalists strongly criticize Musharaf for Lal Masjid Operation and say most of the suicide bombings in Pakistan are due to the massacre in the mosque, but the fact is that the situation was getting worst and out of control at that time. I was in Pakistan in those days and following the happenings around Lal Masjid in Islamabad. Lal Masjid had become a platform of Sharia Movement in the capital of Pakistan. Nothing was best option other than the bold operation.
The mystery of Khalid Khwaja is complicated. His funeral prayer was led by Maulana Abdul Aziz, the cleric whom the “Asian Tigers” say was deceived by Khwaja during the Lal Masjid operation negotiations. Pakistan’s former DG ISI Gen (R) Hameed Gull and former Chief of Army Staff Gen (R) Mirza Aslam were also in the funeral. They all praised Khalid Khwaja as a honest person. In the video Khwaja talks about having deceived Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid. Being retired from Pakistan Air Force by resignation, Khwaja was an active behind-the-scene player in Pakistani politics. He was a master of disinformation and making alliances among political parties always against the ruling party. He also mediated for direct contact between Clinton Administration and Kashmiri outfits. While he was also used as a mediator for peace deals between Taliban and Pakistan Army.
What makes it even more curious is that militants have not threatened to kill Col. Imam, and yet there is no news of his whereabouts.