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Imran Khan knows that he is a “powerless PM,”Pak army is the boss–Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir tells BBC

Journalist Hamid Mir (Image: BBC)

Pakistani opposition parties criticise Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for being a puppet of the army. Pakistani journalists say that the powerful Pakistani military rigged the 2018 general elections to bring Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to power, a claim both the military and Khan deny. Pakistani people know that  the military enjoys a free hand under Khan's government, and that it is consolidating the power that it somewhat lost under Khan's predecessor, Nawaz Sharif.

Khan is returning the favour to the military by allowing generals a bigger role in the country's governance, foreign policy and economy, this is whispered in the power corridor in Islamabad, says Hamid Mir, a well-known Pakistani scribe.

In an interview with the BBC talk show “Hard Talk with Stephen Sackur” , the banned Pakistani journalist said that like his predecessors, even Imran Khan is a “powerless” prime minister. He added that when his show on Geo TV was banned, PM Khan showed empathy. But he could do nothing in the face of pressure from the military and the ISI, which was criticised in the show.

“I think that Imran Khan is not directly responsible for imposing a ban on me. And I don’t think he wants me to be off air. But like past prime ministers, he is not a very powerful prime minister and I think he is helpless and he can’t help me.” Hamid said in the interview.

Mir has survived two assassination attempts by the “stooges” of the powerful Pakistani ISI, and has also been banned from television three times by rubbing the Pakistani army the wrong way, he claims.  In 2014 goons of the ISI pumped six bullets  in his body. His life was saved and Hamid said that it was Imran Khan, the chief of PTI, who stood by him. 

“Imran Khan himself accepted about the role of the military establishment and the role of the ISI in his autobiography in his very clear words. But let me tell you, it is Imran Khan, the current PM, who has written in his autobiography that no politician in Pakistan was able to defeat the military establishment. And he himself accused the ISI that when Musharraf was in power, the ISI tried to twist the arms of some of his colleagues and force them to change their loyalties to the then king’s party, the PML-Q. And the irony of the situation today is that PML-Q is the biggest ally of Imran Khan.”

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In 2001, when Mir had come to India with the then Pakistani dictator General Parvez Musharraf for the coverage of the Agra Summit, he became the “poster” boy of Musharraf. But over the years, he fell out with him  in 2007.

“Imran Khan stood by me in 2007 when I was banned by General Pervez Musharraf, and yes at that time he was the biggest supporter of media freedom in Pakistan. Yes, I provided him a lot of space on my TV shows because he was in the Opposition.” Mir added that once Imran Khan became the Prime Minister, he became part of the military establishment.

“In 2019, one of my interviews with the former president, Asif Ali Zardari, was banned on my show and some other Opposition leaders were also banned on different TV channels. So, we started criticising Imran Khan and so I think he was not happy with my criticism.”

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Pakistan is being run by invisible people under a hybrid system, but they are known to everyone. Therefore, Pakistani media is going through the most difficult phase since the country’s inception.”

“Everybody knows what happened to Hamid Mir and why he is banned and everybody knows the names of the people which I have not mentioned, everybody knows who were responsible for imposing a ban on me. The common Pakistanis are very wise, they are very clever. They know each and every thing about what’s going on. But you see, there is no rule of law in Pakistan.”

Whoever dares to expose these invisible people is instantly declared “anti-State” by known proxies of the invisible forces in media and politics and according to Mir, the Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan has accepted this.