Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: 6/5/11 - 6/12/11

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    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Paki camera man threatened

    I was alterted to threats on the life
    of the camera man who video taped
    the murder of the young man shot point blank
    by Shahid Zafar and Mohammed Afzal, 
    Sindh Rangers.

    Here is that conversation Translated for
    you by one of my friends in Pakistan.


    Dear G,

    What follows is a fairly accurate representation of what happened in the program, in my view.

    The video was shot by a cameraman from “Awaz” TV.

    Program: News Night with Talat    June 9th, 2011

    Channel: Dawn News

    Talat- (The host in black suit.)

    What follows immediately is the introduction given by the host while showing the video in the first minute of the Program:

    Talat: Welcome to the program. The program is about an incident that has jolted the Pakistani nation. It is about a Pakistani citizen who was killed. Not only was he killed but killed in broad daylight…Not only killed in broad daylight but killed in front of the TV cameras.

    The video that you are watching isn’t shot from a mobile phone! The crew of  “Awaz” TV shot this video “live”. But the killers did not care about TV cameras. After shooting the guy, they didn’t try to save his life but left him to bleed to death.

    This video has spread all across the world through youtube. If you look at the hits on youtube, you’d find there is no place in the world where the video hasn’t been watched. We waited the whole day that the powers that be- the DG Rangers or the Five Corp Karachi or the interior Ministry or the chief of Army Staff or the Corp Commander’s Meeting might say something on this incident! They didn’t.


    Ansar Abbasi, is present in the studio (Investigative editor for one of the leading newspapers from Pakistan, The News International. Senior Journalist- the guest with the glasses.)

    Afzal Butt, is present in the studio (President National Journalists Club, Islamabad.)

    Excerpts from the Program:

    Talat: (to the guests): There is hue and cry all over in the Establishment! People are telling us that we are bent on defaming the Institutions. Is it defaming the “Institutions” or are people being made more aware?

    Afzal Butt:  There is “this” mindset. The whole country is suffering because of it. We say that every single body-part of the society is diseased. What we say is that the patient must be told about it. The patient must be told so precautions could be taken. The mindset says that informing the patient is a risk to the “National Security”. This is where the disagreement starts between us and them.…..


    I think the person who shot the video must be given the prize for shooting the best video of the year. How much fear did the cameraman undergo at that time! He could have been shot too.

    Mazahatr Abbas: (A senior journalist with about 27 years of journalistic experience. Not in the studio: guy with the dark gray blazer)  Had we somehow shown such videos in the past- for similar crimes- it  might have saved Mir Murtaza Bhutto ( Benazir Bhutto’s brother who was also killed in broad daylight in Karachi in a shootout in the presence of Security Forces.).. If we go back in 90’s there was this implicit permission for extra-judicial killings. And that directive, I think, still holds today. I can tell you on oath that “people” were caught by Security Forces; head money put on them, and then they were extra-judicially killed to get the head money….Later, people who carried out these killings were rewarded with promotions, they still hold big positions today. So if these things happened for last 15 to 20 years and we tolerated them and those who spoke against were eliminated/silenced. Then this was to be the logical outcome! Since there was no electronic media at that time so such things were not brought forward. The ruler of those times thought that they would control terrorism like this. Even Shahbaz Sharif (the present Chief Minister of Punjab) did the same things and got his reward.

    Zaryab- (Over the phone- Assistant Director News and Current Affairs, Awaz TV)

    Talat: Zaryab, Pls tell me, it was the cameraman from your organization who shot the video! The murder took place in front of him and as such he is an eye-witness to it also. People are usually afraid of showing things up on cameras! The Rangers didn’t react in any such manner- no inhibitions- no nerves? What did the cameraman tell you and how do you explain this?

    Zaryab: Thank you for inviting me and giving us the credit for shooting the video. There is an issue of “mindset”. The camera is part of our lives now. Our politicians and security personnel have not come to terms with it and do not know how to respond to it. There is this old “mindset” that I‘m in “uniform” and I can do anything and get away with it, and there will be no accountability.

    Talat:  So they did know that it is all being video-taped?

    Zaryab: They knew it. But they did not comprehend the possible fallout?

    Talat: Are you being threatened?

    Zaryab: Our cameraman has received threats. And you can imagine the pressure that our media organization is going through. But right now the most pressing issue is the “security” of the cameraman who shot the video. You know and we all know that the journalist community, and the camerapersons have to undergo through huge problems in such circumstances..


    Ansar Abbasi: Look, in absence of any ‘check and balance’ and accountability, such things are bound to happen. Had it been a Police Force they would have acted similarly. The same thing happens when our citizens nab a dacoit, they set him ablaze (such incidents have happened in Karachi in recent past). See, in States’ where institutions do not work n where there is no check n balance; exactly the same thing would happen.

    Talat: Let’s take a break, but before that what should the media do? The State institution tell us we have compromised the national security by showing such things. And with this comes the next accusation that we are anti-State. And with the accusation comes the punishment that Saleem Shahzad had to bear with. (The Asia Times Online journalist, who was brutally murdered ten days ago and his murder investigations are making absolutely no headway.)

    We have Kashif Farooqi (guy in the purple shirt) with us. He is the correspondent ‘Dawn News’.

    Kashif, tell us something about the incident.


    The Ranger’s DG has held a press conference. Please tell us about it.

    Kashif:  Before telling you about the Conference, let me say that the Interior Minister “Rahman Malik” gave statements on the State Television that “complete investigations’ will be conducted but also hinted that the guy killed was a criminal…

    Talat: Let’s leave the Interior Minister.. let us talk something serious,… let’s keep the interior minister out of this.. (shows how seriously Pakistanis generally take Mr Malik, the Interior Minister and his statements.)



    Kashif, please I’d request again, let’s keep the Federal Interior Minister out of this, let’s talk some sense.. let’s keep him out of this..

    Kasif: …….Till 11.00 p.m tonight the Ranger’s spokesperson insisted that the guy was a robber who had been killed in an encounter…and maybe the same line would have been towed but the footage came to the fore, after which the whole scenario changed…!

    Talat: (Let’s take another break.)

    Welcome back after the break, Mazahar, please guide us: the Ranger’s assert that it will be “them” who will carry out an investigation and make it public later on; is this the way to go about it?

    ( Mazahar responds by referring to a similar incident back in 90’s when the security personnel killed 7 villagers after accusing them as terrorists, but an investigation was carried out and a “Major” of the Military was hanged;  he contends that investigations on similar lines would help diffuse the anger against “Rangers”.)


    Talat: Had this video not appeared, the official version would have been proven correct. The guy would have been declared a robber, killed in a shoot-out? Kharrotabad case is in front of us( another case where seemingly innocent foreigners were shot dead by the Security forces with impunity.) What sanctity the official version enjoys after the incident?

    Afzal Butt: The Institutions who always blame us for playing with the National Security should look at today’s incident and understand that what we are saying is in the Institutions’ interest. We want to give respect to our institutions.  Had the DG Rangers spoken the truth after this video, had suspended the involved personnel and handed them to Police; the respect of their institution would have been built. But instead he’s bent on covering it up and blaming us for bringing such videos to the public! He’s been saying that Media is overplaying this and that media is corrupting people.

    Talat: The institutions equate such reporting with Anti-State activities.

    Ansar: … Let me tell you that fair investigations couldn’t take place without removing DG Rangers…

    Talat: We’ll come to that. Let me go to Zaryab, our friend from “Awaz Media Group” (whose cameraman shot the video). Your channel is responsible for shooting the video and your employees are an eyewitness to this. How does your channel perceive its role? Is the reporter or the cameraman in any danger now?

    Zaryab: As I said earlier, there is a big security issue for our cameraman. The Interior Minister has paid lip service that the security of the cameraman will be ensured. But there is no warranty. The poor cameramen would go home on his motorbike and will come to his job on the same bike. How will he be protected is a big question? We have contacted authorities for any solid guarantees but they are only providing verbal assurances.

    Talat: Kashif, let me come to you on this.

    Kashif: Talat, I’d talk to the Journalist Organization that we take the cameraman out of Karachi. God forbids, he will be killed in coming few days, if he stays here. They will say that he was killed by unidentified people. We’ll have to protect our cameraman.

    Talat: Thank you all for participating in the discussion. Before leaving.. let me say that I do not want this to be the last program of my life, and I don’t wish to have the last analyses from my guests. So if we have been disrespectful, please forgive us (seeking apology from the Military Establishment). And we’ll recommend, that he brave Rangers’ personnel who have proven their mettle should be awarded a land plot in Defence Area, and half a million as reward, and the DG Rangers’ should be promoted and groomed for the post of DG ISI. So that once he becomes the DG ISI, he should rid Pakistan of more Pakistanis to make Pakistan more secure. Thank you and goodbye.

    I hope pressure can be brought on the ISI
    and the S Wing and Rangers not to
    take vengenance on the camera man
    but realize this video may make
    their sections more PROFESSIONAL.

    Maybe some International recognition of
    this videographer prize, award would
    also increase his longevity.

    Last time a Major was hung, the bad
    apples need to be removed before they
    cause the others to rot.

    Shahzad said when told to back off and cool it:"If I hold back and don't do my job, I might as well just make the tea."
    Paki Military and Police professionals:


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