Curious blind spot

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There is more focus on Zaid Hamid’s religion than the really serious allegations

Before we get to Hamid Mir’s takedown of Zaid Hamid (Capital Talk, Geo News, 22nd July) it would be pertinent to start somewhere else.

Remember the time back when Zaid Hamid’s DVDs were flying off the shelves (they still are) and he was visible, far more visible than he is now. In fact, he even had a show on the very network that is his bete noire now. He was extremely popular on what pass off as the lecture circuits in the country. This is before Imran Khan (finally and effectively) engaged the same particular segment of the youth that Hamid was targeting.

Back then, he was popular amongst the students belonging to the educated urban middle-classes. The reason was his trashing of the political class, which still seems to touch a chord. He had followers in elite campuses like LUMS and GIKI. Our man was all over the place and no one, really, had taken him on. It was during this time that he was finally shouted out at three university campuses. All three, it was heartwarming to find out, were public sector institutions. They were the Punjab University, Lahore, the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and the Islamia College University, Peshawar. But interesting was what separated the first two from the last. In the former two, he was heckled for being a follower of Yousaf “Kazzab” whereas in Peshawar, the PkSF hecklers brought the house down because he was “spreading an agenda and ideology of hatred.”

It were the students at a public sector university in “conservative” Peshawar, led by the late Idrees Kamal, who could see his hatred, not the “fuhash burger elite” at the swanky colleges in the rest of the country. Trashing him for this whole kazzab business is akin to lynching someone for blasphemy, something the country needs to see the end of. It is ironic to see Zaid Hamid haters form the Ahmadi community celebrating his current criticism on these grounds.

Hamid Mir’s aforementioned programme was in two parts, the first showing clips of the deranged pundit advocating the subversion of the political government by the army, the wrapping up of the constitutional system and the like. The second part, unfortunately, was about the kazzab affair. In Zaid Hamid’s subsequent video rejoinder, where he sticks it to “Hamid Mir Jafar” and “Ghaleez Charbi ka Drum Tahir Ashrafi,” he focuses only on this affair, not the other business.

Because of the level of discourse of Mubasher Lucman (Kharra Sach, ARY News, 24th July) as a person, his programme focussed completely and entirely on the religious affair. In his programme, though he clearly had it in for Tahir Ashrafi and was taking Zaid Hamid’s side, to be fair, he brought out a copy of the court judgment against Yousaf Kazzab, which wasn’t quite what it was the anti-Hamid lobby had made it out to be. In reality, this Yousaf fellow was involved in a PR vendetta against a Lahore-based news group notorious for smear campaigns and sting journalism.

On the more serious front, a former close associate of Hamid’s was shown on Hamid Mir’s programme, testifying that the latter was on an ISI contract since 2007, to the tune of around Rs600,000 a month and that a like-minded admiral in the ISI was the one responsible for this business.

As lawyer Babar Sattar, who was a guest on the programme, said, it is troubling how public taxpayer money was being spent on the absolute discretion of one official, this admiral that we heard of. But that isn’t the whole truth of it. Those in the know say a paltry Rs600,000 a month doesn’t quite come close to other shenanigans in the spooks’ world.

It is sad that in the republic, a slur on one’s religious beliefs is an easier sell than being on the payroll of the country’s most colourful secret agency. This latter charge is one that Zaid Hamid wouldn’t probably ever even deny and say that at least it is better than being “an agent of India,” which, in his worldview, includes anyone who wants peace with India.

In a clip, the enfant terrible says, with disdain towards the judiciary and the military, “neither is the judiciary performing its duty, nor is the army overturning the government.” This statement, taken in isolation, isn’t alarming; there are, after all, madcap pundits under every rock in the Republic. What is scary is the sizeable number of Hamid’s likeminded folk in the armed forces one comes across, at all ranks, not just admiral. The case of Brigadier Ali, arrested for his links with the Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an organisation that is invested in the process of penetrating and taking over the secular armies of the Muslim world, has been well-documented.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This whole blame game and allegations of this, that and other nature about someone's religion and patriotism is some how becoming scary. To me it appears a bitter reminder of Governor Salman Taseer's episode the way he was shamelessly and baselessly blamed for something he never was guilty of and finally his murder. Instead of taking sides, reason must prevail and thinking people ought to protest and condemn this media trial which might become action-replay of Governor Taseer fate and we once again must mourn destruction of another innocent life.

  2. Religion can be so easily manipulated, and this is what's being done by both parties. I wish a day comes when we support logic and rationale instead of humiliating religion for our cheaper vested interests.

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