Karachi’s shooters targeted a prominent journalist and were promptly let off the hook by a segment of the media that immediately began making wild unfounded allegations about ISI (Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Agency) being behind the attack.  The actual attackers and those who launched them must be laughing themselves silly because no one was really looking for them—everyone and their aunts were taking this opportunity to vent their personal grievances against the ISI and indirectly the entire military establishment. The elected government for whom the ISI and the military work did not let out a peep much less defend their institutions. They did announce a judicial commission for an investigation and this also came in for derisive comments from at least one segment of the media. Most pathetic were the TV show anchors that came out with their personal stories of threats, fears and worries though there were some sane voices making rational comments that were somehow lost in translation.

This shooting like all the other killings of journalists, doctors, lawyers, political workers and law abiding citizens is an abominable incident. It highlights the lawlessness on the streets, the failure of the government to ensure security and above all the availability of hit men, extortionists, kidnappers and other criminals who are available for hire and operate with almost complete freedom not just in Karachi but all over the country. Also reprehensible is the scarcely disguised attempt to stoke ethnic, sectarian and institutional discord by carefully planned and orchestrated attacks. In such an environment the blatant targeting of the ISI must have sounded like music to those across and within our borders whose nemesis the ISI is. The only good that has come out of this shocking incident is the fact that many have crawled out of the woodwork and have been identified for all times to come. It would be really sad if some in the government who have foolishly targeted the military recently were to become tools of the media in this totally unwarranted and baseless blame game.

According to statements by some people that were aired on the media the journalist who was shot had stated that if ever something happened to him then it would be the ISI and its Chief who should be held responsible. No one knew when this statement was made and why the journalist did not go to the police or to the court if he had such fears and such information but one segment of the media lost no time in displaying a photo of the present ISI boss. Many loud mouths kicked in to demand resignations and link the ISI to other past incidents—all without a shred of evidence or proof. There was an insidious but clearly discernible attempt to sow disharmony between the government and the military and undermine the military and the ISI.

The Pakistan military establishment that includes the ISI is a strong stable cohesive institution. It never forgets that it is supported by taxpayers and that it must have public opinion on its side. It cannot be rattled by the ranting of a few misguided individuals earning fat pay checks and thinking they can be judges and jury on all matters. Neither the military nor the ISI needs to respond—the onus for an appropriate response is on the government that has to stand up and defend its institutions. If a segment of the media can cross all limits, throw caution to the wind and damage Pakistan under the garb of standing for its own then the government must also stand up for those who work for it and in the process lay down their lives. The dastardly shooting in Karachi like all such shootings must be investigated but till the investigation reaches a conclusion there is a need to exercise restraint.