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Critic of Pakistani military wounded in Karachi attack

hamid-mirHamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist and a critic of the nation’s powerful military, was wounded by gunmen in the southern port city of Karachi on Saturday evening, according to police officials and local news media reports.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but within hours of the attack, Amir Mir, his brother, accused the chief of the Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, of being behind it.

In an emotional outburst on Geo TV, the news network on which Hamid Mir hosts one of Pakistan’s most popular talk shows, Amir Mir assailed the intelligence agency, saying that the ISI “was eating up Pakistan like termites” and accusing its director, Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam, and other ISI officials of planning to kill Mir.

He said his brother had told him about two weeks ago that his life was in danger and that he had recorded a video that had been sent to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

A spokesman for the media wing of the Pakistani military, Inter-Services Public Relations, condemned the attack but urged people not to speculate about it.

“An independent inquiry must immediately be carried out to ascertain facts,” the spokesman said. “However, raising allegations against ISI or the head of ISI without any basis is highly regrettable and misleading.”

The attack took place on a busy Karachi street just after 5 p.m. Saturday as Mir was headed to Geo’s main office.

He was shot three times, according to Karachi police officials, in the lower abdomen and shoulder. He was taken to Aga Khan Hospital, where he underwent surgery, Geo TV reported. His condition was listed as stable.

In November 2012, a bomb was found under Mir’s car in Islamabad, but it did not explode. At the time, suspicions pointed to the Pakistani Taliban, which had singled out Mir for criticism over his coverage of Malala Yousufzai, the teenage activist wounded by militants in October 2012.

This is not the first time accusations have been made against the ISI. In 2011, Syed Saleem Shahzad, an investigative reporter, was found dead some months after he was threatened by intelligence officers.
Mir has been one of the most vocal critics of the military and intelligence services. He has also criticized former military leader Pervez Musharraf.

© 2014, The New York Times News Service

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