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The Generals Strike Back

The ISI's Critics -- and the Agency's Efforts to Silence Them

A journalist at a demonstration in front of the parliament building in Islamabad, January 28, 2013. Faisal Mahmood / Courtesy Reuters

On April 19, unknown gunmen shot Hamid Mir, a well-known Pakistani journalist and private TV news anchor, in the port city of Karachi. By some stroke of luck, he survived. Mir’s family immediately blamed the attack on Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), specifically naming its director general, Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi, as the culprit.

Mir’s employer -- Geo TV, one of Pakistan’s most popular stations -- hurriedly broadcast the allegations, splashing Abbassi’s picture across TV screens in Pakistan for hours, setting off a political and media maelstrom in a country where the generals consider themselves above reproach and are certainly never named and shamed for crimes. On April 22, the ISI had Pakistan's defense ministry petition PEMRA, the country’s electronic media regulator, to revoke Geo TV’s transmission license and initiate criminal charges against its management for defaming the state. The military’s reaction stirred up

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