A verbatim threat from Pakistan, and more

Here is a cut and paste email message sent to staffers at The News, in Islamabad. We have their explicit permission to use it. Actually, they requested that we use it, in the hope that publicizing it will somehow protect them.

From: Khaki Power <[email protected]>

Date: Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 1:39 AM


To: [email protected]

Cc: [email protected], [email protected]

You people are the worst kind of swine that are a curse on our society. No more warnings, no more suggestions. You simply do not listen when asked politely. Only care is to malign institutions, exploit the so called “tragedy” of your friend, and make seditious accusations. Unacceptable behaviour.

Thats it. Just remember; YOU chose to play with fire.

The News staffers do not know who “Khaki Power” is or are. They assume the message comes from someone either in the military or sympathetic to it, but have no substantive proof. Umar Cheema was abducted and viciously beaten in 2010 by men who he said were part of the intelligence services. Ansar Abbasi has written commentaries (here and here) on trying former President Pervez Musharraf for treason. Musharraf, of course, is the general who seized power in 1999, ousting the current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. Ahmad Noorani had tweeted on the same subject. Abbasi’s piece on Sunday, “ISI chief should step down,” could have aggravated the situation.

More recently, Cheema wrote critically of Saturday’s attack on Geo TV anchor and commentator Hamid Mir (here and, after receiving the message, here), and the “so called ‘tragedy’ of your friend” in the threatening message apparently refers to that murder attempt. Widespread speculation within the media and the government is that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was involved in the assassination attempt. Mir often uses disgruntled sources from within the ISI in his commentaries. At other times he uses Taliban sources to criticize that group or the ISI. Recently he had been highly critical of the disappearances of civilians in Baluchistan, where Pakistan’s military is confronting an increasingly vicious battle with Baluch separatists.

Mir’s “Capital Talk” has long been one of Pakistan’s most popular TV news commentary shows, and Mir had drawn threats in the past. CPJ began encouraging Pakistani journalists under threat to publicize those threats in an effort to disarm them. In August 2011 we tried to analyze the growing threat level in a blog called “Quantifying the threat to journalists in Pakistan.” Many blogs and news alerts followed, among them a December 2011 post, “Pakistan’s Hamid Mir publicizes a death threat.” We made a point then that remains true today: “While the threat to Mir appears to be from supporters of the military/security establishment, if not officials within the government itself, threats to journalists come from everywhere. Pakistani reporters are targeted by all sides to the country’s conflicts–religious militants, political factions fighting turf  battles in violent cities like Karachi, competing secessionist groups in Baluchistan, and all the militarily active parties along the border with Afghanistan, as well as drug runners and gun dealers,” we wrote.

Meanwhile, our statement Tuesday, CPJ condemns move by Pakistan’s ISI against Geo TV,” prompted intense debate on our Twitter account, @cpjasia . Support for CPJ’s position is divided, but many of the posts, pro and con, are thoughtful and worth reading.