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Police attack Geo TV office in Pakistan

March 16, 2007

Breaking news here in our neighborhood. Watch this video and you will see for yourself out what is happening. This news is not on international channels as yet. It is breaking live here in India as the police could not manage to stop Geo TV’s transmission. We got it through both CNN IBN and Times Now. However Times has not been able to upload the video on its site as yet.

The police attacked one of the most balanced news channels in Pakistan because it was covering the sacking of the Chief Justice by Pakistan’s dictator : General Musharraf. Journalists were beaten up, the office was damaged and tear gas shells were thrown into a newspaper office by the police! And now the latest news is that the government has realised its mistake (the channel managed to cover the attack by the police) and is calling this an ‘abrupt’ incicent (what does that mean?). Hamir Mir, the bureau chief of Geo TV said on live TV that it was premeditated and the police were keen to break the news room but did not succeed. They came in asking for the news room.

Actually as an Indian observer I am not sure whether there was freedom of the press anyway in Pakistan. Surely its not a secret that Musharaff is a dictator? Maybe this particular action was blatant and that is why it has shocked everyone. But hey, Musharaff is a dictator and the press being gagged in a dictatorship (even if some people consider it a benevolent dictatorship) is not so shocking. Maybe this particular action will shock the press out of its delusion that it was free to do and air whatever it wanted.

Related Reading: Accusations against Army Generals in Pakistan

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2007 2:21 pm

    Press is indeed free in Pakistan after the General has come to power. I have watched their channels during Nawaz Sharif’s and Benazir Bhutto’s regime.Their coverage used to be like our Doordarshan during the Emergency days. It is much better now.The attack on Geo Tv is condemmable but the saving grace was the apology by President Mussharaf.

  2. March 17, 2007 5:09 pm

    Prerna, I just saw on television some interviews of people in Pakistan. Rights activists. Pakistani People. Also an interview with Benazir Bhutto. They all said the press is not free in the north western provinces. Journalists have been kidnapped and murdered and beaten up. As long as you keep to a certain limit, they allow you but beyond that, no.

  3. March 17, 2007 6:08 pm

    This is comparative Nita.In any case the govt writ doesn’t run in the tribal areas. Tribal chiefs control these places.

  4. March 17, 2007 6:24 pm

    Prerna,

    Mr. Musharraf’s apology does not help as it was a deliberate attempt, and Pakistan’s population knows abt it. The Press in Pakistan was always supporting the dictatorship and i have seen very rare examples where it looks like free press.

    I found Mr. Musharraf as a seasoned politician, as he saved Pakistan from various dangers but as we know, every dictator has an average 5-8 years of shelf life, i think we are getting there for him as well.

  5. March 17, 2007 8:33 pm

    Hamir Mir, the bureau chief of Geo TV said on live tv that even if the government denies it, they know the orders came from the top. And not just him. Other people have said it. The denial is a cover up. But I guess that the very fact that journalists can go on air and say that Musharaff’s opology is a cover up means that the press is not that badly gagged!
    Anyway, a lot of people here are saying that Musharaff’s time has come. I don’t know if this is true but what is true is that the United States is not happy with him and everyone knows that it is because of the US that he is where he is.

  6. Harris permalink
    March 27, 2007 8:53 pm

    The Attack and the apology seems like Musharraf displaying his power and warning Geo and then saying “Be careful as you’ve seen I can crush you!…”

  7. wasif permalink
    May 6, 2007 10:21 am

    Thank you Geo for the continuous coverage of CJ “Safar to lahore”. You truly represent the sentiments of all four provinces of Pakistan and the Geo management has shown that they will not be cowed down by the pressure of a single party and will not play the role of becoming a media wing of a political party.

    Jang group makes me proud.

  8. wasifArif permalink
    May 6, 2007 10:25 am

    Shame on MQM for cutting off Geo’s transmission of CJ’s coverage. People of Karachi should see the true colour of party leadership because one day you will have to face the monster that is being developed in the guise of democracy.

  9. KAWA permalink
    June 3, 2007 11:15 am

    For long i have been saying to all those who shed praises on Musharraf for allowing freedom to media that the real test will come when media starts showing his folly’s.

    As long as media was criticizing politicians and making fum of them, Musharraf was sitting happy commenting that media was free and he could not butt in!! Today it is pinching him. Mr so called President, freedom of expression means calling a rat a rat may it be you or any other politician including your “Pir” Altaf Hussain. Freedom does not mean sucking up to the military or ruling junta while condemning others.

    Note for Geo; Your progran “Ham Sub Umeed Sa Han”. You ridicule all politicians including those in Government including leaders of main political parties (BB & Nawaz). This is all good and precisely what freedom of expression means. However it is unfair when nothing ever is said about the ugly fat man “Altaf Hussain”. Is he not the leader of MQM? If fun can be made of Musharraf, Nawaz and BB, why is that ugly man a sacred cow? Is it because Geo is scared of his hit-men because to him killing 44 or another life means nothing!

    Praise for Imran Khan for standing up and exposing this animal living in London. He is one of the biggest terrorist after Osama Bin Laden.

  10. KAWA permalink
    June 7, 2007 9:25 am

    A full General is worth Rs 500 million+
    First, here are some details about Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa-Agha.
    Her expertise: South Asia, military expenditure, arms control, arms procurement.
    Her Brief Bio:
    She did her doctorate from King’s College, London in 1996 and has worked on issues varying from military expenditure, defence decision-making, nuclear deterrence, arms procurement, arms production to civil-military relations in South Asia. She is also a Ford Fellow and more recently Pakistan Scholar at t he Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.
    She began her professional career with the Pakistan navy as the Director of Naval Research, making her the first civilian and woman to work at that position in Pakistan’s defence establishment. She writes for various international journals such as: Journal of Asian Affairs, Journal of the European Institute of Asian Studies, Jane’s Defence Weekly and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Her major publication to date is the book Pakistan’s Arms Procurement and Military Buildup, 1979-99: In Search of a Policy (Palgrave Press, 2001).
    The reason for the above blurb on Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa-Agha will soon become apparent; I simply wished to establish her credentials and highlight the fact that she is no intellectual lightweight in her specialized field of knowledge.
    Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa is a scholar of Pakistan’s military and security affairs and a regular contributor to several Pakistani and internationally renowned opinion journals. Currently she is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC where she is busy writing her latest book “Military Inc, The Politics of Military’s Economy in Pakistan”. In it, she analyzes Pakistan military’s vast commercial interests and its economic predation since 1953.
    Ayesha Siddiqa also writes on Pakistan’s military affairs for Jane’s Information Group. She was asked to work as the Director of Naval Research with the Navy making her the first civilian and woman to work at that position in the Pakistan defense establishment. She has a doctorate in War Studies from King’s College, London in 1996.
    despardes.com’s Editor-in-Chief Irshad Salim conducted an online interview with her on the subject of her upcoming book, Pakistan affairs and post 9/11 scenario.
    Question: So what is this book about?
    Dr. Siddiqa: This book is about military business operations with a case study of Pakistan.
    Question: So what prompted you to write this book?
    Dr. Siddiqa: I was a civil servant. During the course of my work I had to deal with numbers of military spending and doing that one slowly realized that a lot was hidden. It is the search for numbers that took me in this direction. The other thing is that it is essential to understand the dynamics of the institution that virtually controls Pakistan’s past, present and future.
    Question: Ok, so who did you work for as a civil servant?
    Dr. Siddiqa: I joined the civil service in 1988 and left in 2001. Served in military accounts, defence audit and later the navy.
    Question: Going back to the Pakistan army’s business, what are your findings?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Several. First, the military has become predatory engaging in political and economic predation. Second, political predation is not complete without economic predation. Third, military has mutated into a separate class that shares interests with other members of the ruling elite. Finally, because the military protects its vested interests, it leads to alienation of the masses.
    Question: When did all this start?
    Dr. Siddiqa: It dates back to the early 1950s. The business ventures were started with the establishing of the first foundation called the Fauji Foundation in 1953. This was established with the war veteran’s rehabilitation fund of Rs. 18 million.
    Question: Why do you consider forming Fauji Foundation a predatory step by the army?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Listen you have to understand the concept. A politically strong entity that engages in political predation needs to feel economically or financially autonomous. This completes the picture of predation. The generals thought that they wanted to establish independent means of providing for their welfare and not depending on the civilians like it happened in India. The financial autonomy gradually created the logic for greater interest in political control .
    Question: Give me one or two instances when the 1953 move swirled into predation.
    Dr. Siddiqa: It started right then with Ayub Khan and his cabal getting agricultural land and establishing independent means for themselves.Look at Ayub Khan. He not only got several squares of agricultural land in Sindh, he also established his sons into business. Look at the entire lot of generals at the moment. A Major General has a legal worth of about Rs. 300 million [Rs. 30 crores]. These are conservative estimates.
    Question: Going back to Pakistan army’s economic superpower…What percentage of the GDP and GNP is it?
    Dr. Siddiqa: This is difficult to calculate but their own estimates are about 4 % of GDP. I would say that their share in private sector assets is about 7-10 percent of private sector assets . This is a large number for any single group.
    Question: Can you translate that into crores?
    Dr. Siddiqa: 7-10 percent of private sector assets cannot be translated but I can give you another figure: They are worth about Rs. 200 billion. It is just the business. If you put in real estate then we are talking about a Rs 1 trillion plus economy.
    Question: You mean Pakistan army’s side economy?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Yes. This includes real estate, businesses done by subsidiaries, organizations and individuals. You have to understand that this economy is predatory by nature because it does not accept any form of civilian control over it. It is independent in terms of planning, appropriation of funds, etc .
    Question: If Pakistan army’s assets total Rs 1 trillion can they fund Pakistan’s annual budget wholly or partially if they have to?
    Dr. Siddiqa: This would, converting these resources into liquid assets and then it would be possible to pay. A lot of these resources are state resources that could provide for military expenditure and more. It is difficult to say that this money would fund the entire budget. Of course, it can but over what period? These assets were acquired over time and their value should be added to the annual defence budget.
    Question: What was the defence budget for the year 2001?
    Dr. Siddiqa: 131 billion. If you add these numbers the budget would escalate to over Rs. 400 billion
    Question: When you left in 2001 how many generals, etc were there who form the command structure of Pakistan forces?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Brigadier and up would be a few hundred.
    Question: So if we assume 100 then 100 times 300 million = 30 billion is the legal worth of army’s command structure correct?
    Dr. Siddiqa: it is more but don’t get into these fancy numbers… Plus the higher you go the more pricy you become. A full general is worth Rs 500 million [Rs. 50 crores] plus (Say £5 Million or US$9.8Million)
    Question: How much land does the forces own in each province?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Difficult to bifurcate but to give you a taste – they own about 7-9 million acres in Punjab alone
    Question: What percentage is it of whole of Punjab?
    Dr. Siddiqa: I am still trying to figure this out. It is not an issue of what percentage is this of Punjab but that a major portion of state land is appropriated by one group
    Question: What about Sindh?
    Dr. Siddiqa: My sense is that it is less in Sindh
    Question: Why is that?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Most of the land is around the 2 barrages constructed after independence. Because they didn’t make new barrages.
    Question: What is their modus operandi in getting these lands allotment
    Dr. Siddiqa: 10 % of land, according to the 1912 Colonization of Land Act, is allotted to the military
    Question: 10% everywhere?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Yes it would be everywhere land is found. Colonization of land refers to each land reclaimed due to creation of water channels and other irrigation projects. However, they tend to get more in Punjab
    Question: Does India have this act too?
    Dr. Siddiqa: No. They got rid of such acts when they did land reforms. Remember India is a state moving towards capitalism. A capitalist state would not create means for institutionalizing feudalism
    Question: Are you saying Pakistan army has institutionalized feudalism?
    Dr. Siddiqa: I am saying that it is a feudal institution as well
    Question: So in that case their interests converge with feudal system correct?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Yes
    Question: Do you think they resisted land reform along with the feudal?
    Dr. Siddiqa: I wouldn’t say that they resisted but they had sufficient stakes not to pursue a policy that had a negative impact on their benefits. For example, who buys the land the Faujis sell? The local feudal or the new rural capitalist class that is equally feudal in nature. Why should the officers then try to destroy the class that bails them out financially. After 1999, generals have started to keep their lands
    Question: What happened after 1999
    Dr. Siddiqa: Since the value of land has gone up, especially after 9/11, generals now keep lands and have turned into absentee land lords
    Question: Why did the value of land in Pakistan go up after 9/11
    Dr. Siddiqa: Because of the money that started to flow in from Pakistani expatriates plus other Muslim countries
    Question: What is their modus operandi in getting these lands allotted to generals individually and to their housing societies collectively?
    Dr. Siddiqa: The provincial governments allot the land to the Ministry of Defence who then gives the land to the three services for further dispersal. The land is also given to the Jawans but the quantity is lesser than what is given to the senior officers. Plus, the generals get greater facilities in making the land cultivable.
    Question: All this is based on 1912 colonization of land act that India got rid of and Pakistan still has ?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Yes, but they have done alterations as well. For instance, the act does not say that land meant for operational purpose be appropriated for personal use. It is against the law
    Question: Are you saying that land meant for operational purposes are or have been appropriated to the generals for personal use or to the housing societies?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Of course. All land in the cities is military land turned into housing colonies
    Question: What is the conclusion of your book?
    Dr. Siddiqa : Simple: The political leadership in Pakistan has to negotiate the military’s gradual withdrawal from the economy if they want democratic institutions to grow
    Question: At what value does the army buy land?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Between Rs. 30-60 per acre .( or 30-60 pence per acre) In some cases they pay more. This refers to the private housing schemes
    Question: You mean in Defence Society in Karachi, the army gets land from the provincial govt for 30 to 60 rupees an acre only?
    Dr. Siddiqa: There are 2 methods for getting land. All the military land converted for personal use is given at the ridiculous price I quoted. Then there are other schemes where they pay a little more. For instance, the Cantonment Board distributed plots of 500 yards each by appropriating part of the parking lot of the Karachi stadium. Each plot was for about Rs 600,000 (say £6000 against a market value of £100,000 – £150,000)
    Question: What was the fair market value of each plot at that time?
    Dr. Siddiqa: One and a half crore
    Question: Who got these plots?
    Dr. Siddiqa: Generals. The bulk goes to generals. This was done by General Tauqeer Zia. As Chairman Cricket Control Board he authorized himself to return this land that once belonged to the Cantonment Board for further distribution- (In short the real robbers and thieves are the GENERALS and their cabal)
    Question: Any more instances of such land grabbing?
    Dr. Siddiqa: The entire Lahore Cantonment was turned into housing schemes. In fact, except for Defence phase I & II (Lahore), the rest of the land does not even belong to the military
    Question: How many acres is Lahore Cantonment, if you know?
    Dr. Siddiqa: About 8000 to 10,000.
    Question: What is its fair market worth now
    Dr. Siddiqa: Runs into billions. It should be around Rs. 700 billion
    Question: What was the “grabbing price ”
    Dr. Siddiqa: As I said, Rs. 30-60. This is the rate that officers pay
    ========================
    Personal message: It is about time to do the following;
    · Start a movement to oust the ARMY from political power
    · Create a method to elect an honest leadership both in PPP, Muslim League, MQM, and other parties.
    · Have proper elections
    · Control the asset distribution by the ARMY Mafia. A proper regulated system should be devised.
    · Control the Assets of the Fauji Foundation and open the books to proper audit
    · Perks as land, plot gifts should be controlled or perhaps banned.
    · Make laws of severe punishment for the Generals to stop them from taking political power and that their prime duty should be Defense ALONE
    · Investigations of lootings by the Army Generals especially the Core Commanders (including the millionaire Core Commander Lahore who has benefited most recently)

  11. KAWA permalink
    June 11, 2007 3:48 am

    Please send your e mails to US Senators telling them about the true face of Musharraf

    http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

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