Pakistani journalist linked to ex-ISI officer`s killing

One of Pakistan`s best known journalists, Hamid Mir, has denied telling the Taliban that a former intelligence officer who was abducted was a CIA agent.

Last Updated: May 18, 2010, 20:18 PM IST

Islamabad: One of Pakistan`s best known journalists, Hamid Mir, has denied telling the Taliban that a former intelligence officer who was abducted was a CIA agent. The officer was later murdered.

A media celebrity who rubs shoulders with Pakistan`s elite, Mir called the tape a fake and denied speaking to the Taliban about Khalid Khawaja, a retired officer of Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

"I never said these things to these people. This is a concocted tape. They took my voice, sampled it and manufactured this conspiracy against me," The Guardian quoted Mir as saying.

The tape, according to the Daily Times, was first posted by "Let Us Build Pakistan" blog and picked up by other online publications.

In the tape, a voice resembling Mir`s is heard telling the alleged abductors of Khawaja that the man was linked to the CIA. Khawaja and two others were seized by a group calling Asian Tigers in March from North Waziristan.

"Whatever the source may be, it is clear that one of the voices on the tape is Mir’s, a fact corroborated by his allusions to events such as his sacking from the daily Ausaf (newspaper)," the Daily Times said.

"In the tape, the person on the other end asks Mir for information on Khawaja. The content of the conversation suggests that this call was made before Khawaja’s execution earlier this month.

"Mir goes on to detail what he knows about Khawaja’s background, linking him to the CIA, an international network of Qadianis and an American named Mansur Ejaz, who, Mir claims, even offered to solve the Kashmir issue," the newspaper said.

With the tape making waves in Pakistan, Daily Times editor Rashed Rahman said: "There are serious allegations to be answered. If this tape turns out to be genuine, it suggests a journalist instigated the murder. A line must be drawn somewhere."

On its part, the Taliban has also dismissed the tape as "fake".

"We condemn the reliability of this tape since there was no conversation between us and Hamid Mir. Although we often talk to different media persons, this seems to be a conspiracy to destroy the reputation of the mujahideen and the brave people of this country," a Taliban statement said.

Mir is one of the best known faces on Pakistan`s electronic media and has in the past interviewed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

IANS