Dawn’s Imaginary exclusive story
An imaginary exclusive news story by Cyril Almeida on national security aspects titled “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military,” was published in Dawn on 6th October 2016. The very title is provocative as if military is responsible for, what they say, isolation of Pakistan in the world. In such crucial times, when Pakistan is confronted with India’s jingoism and war mongering, a false story showing rift between military and civilian leadership can have devastating effects on the minds and hearts of patriotic Pakistanis. International media, especially Indian media has given prominent space to the news story and molded it to further enhance anti-Pakistan agenda in the comity of nations. In times of crisis, when all Pakistanis should get united, by publishing a fabricated story Daily Dawn tried to confuse the nation. In fact, the intro of the story was more damaging than the details.
Prime Minister’s spokesman, Ministry of Information and Chief Minister Punjab’s spokesman have all denied and termed the differences between civil and military leaderships as factually incorrect. On Friday, even Dawn itself has published the rebuttal to the story on the page 5 (Intelligence agencies working in line with state policy, says PM office). One can infer that the original story was speculative to mislead the educated mass of the country and to create mistrust amongst institutions and pillars of state. The story has been concocted and published in leading and respected newspaper at a time when all national resources are required to strengthen national unity, not otherwise. Mainstream print media has the responsibility to shape national response in unison with national policies. Free press must not be misused at the cost of responsible journalism and national interest.
In fact, elected governments had been trying to hold talks with the militants and banned organizations. After PML-N won 2013 elections and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formed the government, Minister of Information Pervez Rashid in September 2013 had confirmed that backchannel talks between the PML-N government and Taliban were under way to work out a peace formula to end violence that had claimed thousands of lives in the country during the last 11 years. In his address to the nation, Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif had made an offer for talks to the militants. Maulana Samiul Haq, often known as the father of the Taliban and a respectable and renowned religious scholar had offered to facilitate negotiations between Pakistani Taliban and the government of Pakistan. He had welcomed the government’s unconditional dialogue offer made to the Pakistani Taliban.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali had then said that the army completely supports the option of dialogue as the top priority to check terrorism and extremism in the country. The objective was to improve law and order situation so that the government could focus on the revival of economy, generating jobs for unemployment and controlling inflation to give relief to the people of Pakistan. The PML-N has the majority in the National Assembly, and it has the mandate to take policy decisions, but like previous governments it also mollycoddled the militants. Before May 11 elections, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had categorically stated that he would like to hold talks with the militants. He stood by his words and declared that holding negotiations with the militants is the first option. It is, however, the responsibility of the government to establish the writ of the state either through dialogue or use of force.
In the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (previously NWFP), ANP had won election in 2008 with thumping majority in the province and particularly in Dir and Swat. It was understood that the party had the support and backing of the people. But ANP leadership did not keep contact with their power base, and thus Taliban intruded into their constituency. ANP government had signed an agreement with the TTP in 2008, but Fazlullah and Sufi Muhammad used that agreement to consolidate their position. In 2009, once again an agreement was reached between the government and Fazlullah and Sufi Muhammad, but they declared that they did not accept democracy, the Constitution and judicial system of Pakistan and continued their vile acts. The PML-N in the centre and PTI in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had held identical views about negotiations with the militants. However, after increased attacks by the militants the government started crackdown on the TTP and other militants.