How a Top Pakistani Journalist Encouraged a Militant Commander to Kill a Former Official

Hamid Mir works with the Geo News Network in Pakistan and is considered among the top TV anchors in the country. He allegedly interviewed Osama bin Laden in 2001, when the terrorist leader claimed to have nuclear weapons.

It was long speculated that Pakistani journalists (particularly the Urdu media), on the line of their military and intelligence sponsors, had ties with militant networks in the country and had an important role in promoting extremism and militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. People like Hamid Mir and Rahimullah Yousafzai, who played roles as the most effective 'propaganda voices' for the extremist networks, are believed to be on the payroll of Pakistan's secret intelligence agency, ISI, which is accused of providing support to terrorist groups around the world.

However, a secret audiotape, recorded by an unknown source, reveals the reality about Pakistani journalists' contacts with militants and how they cooperate and help each other. In the audio conversation, which is in Urdu language and can be downloaded here, a caller, apparently a commander of the Punjabi Taliban in Waziristan, asks Hamid Mir if the military operation in Orakzai Agency is going to stop. Mir answers that 'no, they say that they will attack North Waziristan in a day or two.'

Then the caller asks about Khalid Khwaja, a former official of Pakistan Air Force, who was kidnapped some time ago in Waziristan by a group called 'Asian Tigers.' The man asks if Khwaja was an ISI agent, to which Mir answers that he was actually a CIA agent and was working for an international network of Qadiyanis (Ahmadiyya Muslims), followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadiyan, who have been executed in Pakistan for their religious views.

Khalid Khwaja was kidnapped by South Waziristan based-militants along with another former ISI official Sultan Amir Tarar, known as Colonel Imam, and a British-Pakistani journalist Asad Qureshi sometime back. Later, the militants killed Khwaja and released Imam and Qureshi, apparently because the North Waziristan-based Afghan Taliban mediated for them. The conversation between Hamid Mir and the unknown Taliban commander seems to have taken place before the execution of Khwaja.

At the point of mentioning Khwaja, the caller identifies himself as someone from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), based in South Waziristan, and indicates that he needs the information to crosscheck the abducted Khwaja and use it for his execution. Mr. Mir suddenly starts flowing information about Khawaja's contacts with CIA and his and his wife's 'negative' role in the Red Mosque incident in the Pakistani capital.

Mir tells the man on the other end of the phone how Khwaja and his wife betrayed Maulana Abdul Aziz into wearing a burqa and got him arrested by coming out of the mosque escorted by female students. In the conversation Mir praises Ghazi Abdul Rashid, Aziz's brother, who was killed in the operation, for his bravery and jihad and the militants who loot or burn down Nato supplies in Pakistan. He also admires the work of a Kohat-based extremist leader, Javed Ibrahim Paracha, who had played a very active role in triggering deadly Shiite-Sunni fighting in the area, has been accused of killing many Shiites and protecting and sheltering hardcore extremists.

Mir also repeatedly asks the caller to crosscheck Khawaja for his contacts with the CIA and being an agent of the international network of Ahmadiyya; and says that in his opinion Qadiyanis (the Ahmadiyya) are 'worse than kafirs (the non-believers),' thus encouraging the militant commander to kill him.

And worse, it seems that he is doing this just because he has some personal grudges with the murdered Khwaja. In the conversation, he says that he was expelled from the Daily Ausaf, an Urdu newspaper published from Islamabad, because of Khwaja.

A leading Pakistani newspaper, the Daily Times, has noted the following points of interest in the conversation:

• Hamid Mir's disparaging attitude towards Qadiaynis (in his own words, he considers them worse than kafirs)
• His nonchalance when suicide bombings or the looting of Nato trucks are mentioned
• Mir's repeated references to occasions where Khwaja has personally 'betrayed' him (he holds Khawaja personally responsible for his departure from the daily Ausaf)
• The high degree of reverence with which Mir refers to Ghazi Rasheed, Javed Paracha and other terrorists, including Abdul Rahman Kennedy