Pakistani journalist escapes bombing attempt
By SALMAN MASOOD
The New York Times | November 27,2012
ISLAMABAD — A prominent Pakistani journalist and talk show host escaped what appeared to be an assassination attempt here in the capital Monday after a bomb was found under his car, officials said.
There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing attempt, apparently targeting Hamid Mir, who hosts one of the country’s most-watched political talk shows. Most suspicions pointed to the Pakistani Taliban, which had recently singled out Mir for criticism over his coverage of Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist wounded by militants in October.
This month, the Interior Ministry said that Mir’s life had been threatened by a Taliban affiliate known as Tariq Geedar for his coverage of Yousafzai’s story.
But some senior journalists insisted that they refused to rule out involvement by the country’s powerful intelligence agencies. Human rights groups have accused the agencies of using intimidation and violence against journalists.
Mir has also had a troubled relationship with the military’s intelligence groups in recent years, partly for his criticism of the illegal detention and mistreatment of suspected militants.
The bomb was spotted by a neighbor when Mir returned home with his driver after a shopping trip in central Islamabad, police officials said. The police described the device as a black box fixed to the underside of his vehicle with magnets, which contained half a kilogram of plastic explosives as well as a land mine detonator.
“It was clearly an assassination attempt that failed,” said Rana Jawad, Islamabad bureau chief at Geo, the network that employs Mir.
News of the bombing attempt drew condemnation from journalists across Pakistan, and media organizations said they would mount protests today to show solidarity with Mir.
Rehman Malik, the country’s interior minister, visited Mir’s home and assured him of “effective” security.
Hours later, Mir hosted his evening talk show as usual, appearing composed but declining to speculate about his attacker’s identity. Instead, the program focused on the general state of insecurity in Pakistan.