Biased and irresponsible media
Mohammad Jamil


In Pakistan, there is no dearth of biased and grossly irresponsible people be it politics, media or NGOs who have the tendency to criticize government and the armed forces, one way or another.

In the past, when banned Tehrik-e-Taliban leaders and militants were burning schools, attacking shrines and killing their opponents in the name of Islam, these people did not oppose the militants, and in a way glorified their actions. On the other hand these elements tried to denigrate military especially after 2nd May episode and terroristsí attack on Mehran Naval base.

President Pakistan Bar Council Asma Jahangir is reported to have said recently that at the present the military is on the receiving end; therefore maximum pressure should be mounted to stop its intervention, despite the fact the present military top brass is performing its duties as outlined in the Constitution. Some anchorpersons on private TV channels and columnists in print media especially English try to lower the prestige of the armed forces in the eyes of public raising doubts about their capabilities of defending the integrity and sovereignty of the country.

Through negative commentaries, they are creating misperceptions about the Armed Forces and the ISI. And at the same, they downplay their sacrifices. They showed TV footings and images a thousands times when a citizen was killed by the Rangers in Karachi, who are in the dock. On the other hand, when the Swati Taliban captured more than a dozen members of the Pakistani police force and others Pakistani soldiers; they lined them up and carried out the execution by firing squad brutally. But Pakistani media kept mum and did not run the video to keep the people in the dark about the sacrifices of police and security forces. Anchorpersons on private TV channels also invite pseudo-intellectuals and so-called defence analysts who suggest that the government should enter into negotiations with the militants. It must be fresh in the minds of the people that Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (earlier NWFP) government had held talks with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and even agreed to enforce shareah in the province. But they refused to accept the constitution and writ of the government.

Anyhow, a majority of anchorpersons wittingly or unwittingly endorse the views and ideas floated by the US and their mouth pieces Washington Post and New York Times, while some others are either running NGOs funded by the US and western countries, or have acquired consultancies from UN organizations. These palmed off journalists are doing disservice to Pakistan. There are indeed patriotic elements in the media, who comprehend the issues in their true perspective and dispel the impression of present state of despondency, conspiracy theories and misperceptions. Whereas most columnists in English print media are obstreperous, there are some in Urdu print media like Nazir Naji and Haroon Rashid who are downright patriots and try to dispel the wrong impressions about military. Our media had been presenting Ghazi brothers as heroes, and when Fazlullahís thugs continued their killing spree, burned schools and did not spare even mosques, the media criticized the government for its inaction and giving militants a free hand. But when operation against those militants who were holed in Lal Masjid was launched, the media started showing sympathy with the Ghazi brothers and the militants.

There was another episode which was highlighted by the media. Akbar Khan Bugti was a Balochi nationalist, who was once Governor of Balochistan during Z.A. Bhutto government and may have been Pakistani at heart for a while. But he was accused of killing hundreds of innocent people and had pushed Kalpars out of Balochistan. Later, he was instrumental in destroying vital elements of Pakistanís infrastructure, and challenged the Pakistani governmentís authority and rule over large parts of Balochistan. Overnight, he became a martyr, a national hero and was lionized by the media. There are a couple of media groups who publish news, stories and articles in their print and electronic media to promote Americaís interest in the region. In their editorials, they write what Americans want to read. Local English daily carries articles written by the authors who accuse Pakistan of duplicity, and blame it for protecting and ensconcing the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders. They use the very arguments advanced by members of the US administration to denigrate Pakistan, often repeating that Pakistan does not want to act against Haqqani network and others in North Waziristan because Pakistan considers them as its Ďassetsí to be used after Americans leave Afghanistan.

Some analysts at TV channels have the audacity to accuse Pakistan of duplicitous role conveying an impression that Pakistan is not sincere with America. Though it is the other way round, and Pakistan is not getting a fair deal from the US. Others try to create fears in the minds of the people NATO forces are ready to move into North Waziristan. Their source could be either American embassy or state department or could be CIA. They also raise the question whether Pakistanís armed forces have the capacity and ability to respond if Americans conduct a 2nd May like operation to take out Aiman al Zawahary? It is true that Pakistan cannot declare war on the sole super power, but it does not mean they can march into North Waziristan and declare victory. Such people are more loyal than the king, and blame Pakistan for everything. They accuse the ISI for its failure for not taking action against Osama bin Laden, and want investigations against the military and the ISI. They in fact are playing in the hands of Pakistanís enemies because it is their agenda to disgrace Pakistan military and create a wedge between the people and the armed forces. But they will not succeed, as the people of Pakistan have full confidence in the prowess of the armed forces, and will continue supporting the military in their fight against enemies of Pakistan.

Today, the nation is confronted with gigantic challenges, both external as well as internal. Externally, a heady super power is sending ominous signals, and hardly a day goes by when Pakistan is not humiliated, in the US congressional chambers; is not pilloried on the US administration floors and is not demonized in Americaís print and electronic media. Internally the nation is hopelessly entangled in a vicious terrorism involving a multiplicity of terrorist forces including foreign proxies, homegrown militants, sectarian fanatics, ethnic firebrands and criminal thugs.

To extricate the nation out of this quagmire, it needs tall leaders with a good set of brains with big ideas and creative thoughts. It is unfortunate that Pakistan does not have that category of leaders; they are mostly dwarfs and do not deserve to be at the helm in a country of 180 million people. However, the ruling and opposition parties and their leaders, if they have some iota of patriotism, should work in unison to make Pakistan a self-reliant country to rid the dependency syndrome that compels Pakistan to do Americaís bidding.