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Three stars

January 12, 2003

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Javed Nasir, a retired lt-general of the Pakistan army, in October 2002 filed a complaint under Section 6(a)(b)(c), 8 & 11 of the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997, before the Anti-Terrorism Court at Lahore.

'The complainant' proclaims himself to be one "who symbolizes Tableeghi Jamaat's most prominent member with international fame and reputation of the most scrupulously honest individual," and claims that in 1992 he "became an instant international figure." The 'Respondents/Accused' are: "Mir Shakilur Rahman, editor-in-chief of the Jang Group of News, Lahore," and three others of his Lahore office.

The general's complaint is that he has been defamed in the press. He has pleaded: "That the accused belong to the category of terrorists garbed as journalists who are intoxicated with the self-professed belief of enjoying total immunity to any punitive action even if they publish totally false, fabricated, concocted, malicious and mendacious blatant lies. Unless, therefore, exemplary punishment is awarded, yellow journalism will continue to flourish and succeed in creating sense of grave fear, shock and terror amongst the law-abiding respectable citizens... The terrorists with guns are less harmful than the terrorists using the pen as the wounds inflicted by the former can always heal, but those inflicted by the latter leave perpetual ugly scars. The complainant therefore entreats your honour that such terrorists who print and encourage yellow journalism are incurable cancer of society, which must be removed to save the rest of the nation through major surgical operation in the form of the severest possible punishment."

The complainant asserts that "when promoted major gen. in December 1983, he became the first general officer with full-grown beard and thus broke the taboo and tradition of clean shaved generals only."

His complaint opens up:

"1) The complainant symbolizes the Islam-loving [population] of Pakistan by being an active member of the Tableeghi Jamaat which stands and works for the preaching of Islam with the objectives .........".

He continues:

"4) That the enemies of Islam led by USA, Hindu leadership of India, the communists, the Zionists have all joined hands to target the non-militant non-violent Tableeghi Jamaat which stands for unification of all sects all over the world. By weakening it, sectarianism will be strengthened indirectly. By defaming the complainant, who symbolizes Tableeghi Jamaat's most prominent member with international fame and reputation of the most scrupulously honest individual, by allegedly projecting him as one of the most corrupt persons who embezzled Rs 3.00 billion and fled... the country, the objective of the accused unmistakably appears to discredit the Tableeghi Jamaat and thus weakens its appeal and attempts to eliminate sectarianism by united Muslims of all sects on one platform all over the world by terrorizing the general masses to keep them away from Tableegh and to shake their confidence in the survival of the country. These terrorists in the garb of journalists have delivered the most lethal blow to the unity and survival of the country.

"5) That by targeting the ex-DG, ISI, by levelling totally baseless, fabricated, malicious charges, a loud and clear message has been sounded to the law-abiding citizens that journalists enjoy complete immunity to any punishment and publish any rubbish or filth about anyone and get away with it. A sense of shock, terror and insecurity has been driven in the minds of the law-abiding citizens that if the accused can target the ex-DG, ISI, what chance a common citizen will have to escape their wrath. By attacking his reputation the Army and the ISI have been jointly targeted. Left as the last stable institution if destabilized can lead to extreme chaos and confusion and eventually to civil war.

He then recounts how: "7) In 1988, he became a national figure when appointed as incharge to clean up the Ojri Camp. Against the estimated period of six months given by US and French experts by setting a personal example of handling the highly sensitive blinds with his own hands, he motivated his team to clean up the entire dump containing millions of blinds in record period of just 15 days without suffering a single casualty. He attributed his extraordinary performance to the help of Allah which he said would always come if we obey His commandments in the ways and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

"8) As Engineer-in-Chief of Pakistan army complainant was promoted to lt general on September 24, 1991. He was appointed chairman, POF Wah, on February 4, 1992, and on March 14, 1992, was appointed DG, ISI, and became an instant international figure when in April 1992 through his persuasive power and motivational talks he brought all the warring factions of the Afghan Mujahideen to agree to the famous Peshawar Accord and successfully installed the Mujahideen's first government under Mujaddadi in Kabul.

"A true practising Muslim he would not compromise on the interests of Islam and Pakistan. Despite [the] UN ban on supply of arms to the besieged Bosnians, he successfully air-lifted sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles which turned the tide in favour of Bosnian Muslims and forced the Serbs to life the siege much to the annoyance of [the] US Government.

"9) He thus became the target of US, Indian & secular-minded lobbies both inside and outside Pakistan. Having failed to buy him the US government started a totally fabricated and mendaciously false propaganda against him and demanded his removal as ISI chief, failing which Pakistan would be declared a terrorist state. A fact manifested by over 300 articles on the internet by western media, including the official Foreign Affairs Journal of [the] US containing references dubbing him as the only radical Islamist DG, ISI, who was an active member of the Tableeghi Jamaat and has had the greatest influence on the rank and file of the army. Copies of some of these articles are attached as exhibit.

"In April 1993, [the] US Government finally warned Pakistan government in writing to remove the complainant as ISI's head failing which Pakistan was threatened to be declared a terrorist state. It was therefore at the behest of the US government's official demand that he was prematurely compulsorily retired from service by the care-taker government of Mir Balkh Sherbaz Mazari on May 13, 1993.

"10) On July 17, 1997, [the] complainant was appointed chairman, Evacuee Trust Property Board. A sick organization which since its inception in 1960 had generated a total revenue of only Rs.1.17 billion in 37 years of its existence, whereas the complainant raised the revenue of 1.225 billion in [a] four years' stint he had up to July 2001, thus exceeding the total revenue that this department has earned in 37 years..........

"12) That the complainant has contributed over 100 articles to the press since 1998. His pro-Islam, anti-US and anti-India stance has created a very large readership in Pakistan and abroad. He symbolizes the institutions of practising Muslims through his association with Tableeghi Jamaat, a threat which [the] US has officially declared in 1990 to its national security. The professional and honest creed of the army, of which ISI has been an inseparable part, the Sikh-friendly anti-Indian image of the complainant if defamed and discredited will damage all these institutions that he symbolizes as such have been targeted.

"In the current media explosion through internet the news spreads like wild fire in seconds. By 11 am on August 25 the tabloids carrying the headline of the complainant fleeing the country with Rs.3.00 billion had appeared all over the country (Exhibit). Through internet it had reached every part of the globe. No matter how many rebuttals, apologies and corrections are issued, all three institutions have been delivered an irreparable blow. The reputation of the complainant built over the last 46 years lies totally destroyed. "The news item referred to was run on the front page of The News of August 24, 2002, and "the complainant learnt about it through a telephone call which was followed by thousands of telephone calls from all over Pakistan and world, including England and USA. Every caller saying that if such malicious lie could form the headline against the complainant, then disintegration of Pakistan was not very far..... Down with bad stomach on 22nd and 23rd August, the complainant remained bed-ridden with telephone next to him. The accused did not bother to check even on the telephone if complainant was inside the country or abroad." (paragraph 13).

The good judge presiding over Anti-Terrorism Court III in Lahore, Mr Manzoor Hussain, has taken cognizance of the complaint, and hearings continue.

May the Good Lord forgive us!