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Fear of Supreme Court deters from checking anti-Pakistan contents, says media watchdog

13 Jul

PEMRAThe calculated leak of Abbottabad Commission Report through Aljazeera has clouded another explosive report of Media Commission. This report contains revelations by the media regulator, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and observations of the Commission. As expected by those closely watching and monitoring the contents of one media house, it was revealed that its Channel GeoNews receives foreign funding for its various programs. In its version before the Commission, PEMRA informed that a couple of media houses receive large grants in the form of advertising contracts from overseas sources; one such grant is 20 million British pounds. Some part of this amount may be for paid advertising or sponsorship of a program.

The actual facts are still under the wraps as the said channel is perceived to be very powerful and exercises strong clout in the Establishment which in today’s Pakistan is the Supreme Court. Almost every news items becomes a subject of suo moto notice by Iftikhar Chaudhary Court. This channel and some of its anchors are known for spitting venom against the State of Pakistan and are working overtime in undermining the security apparatus when the armed forces are busy fighting India-funded insurgency in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi.

Why PEMRA is afraid to take any action against the said channel?

According to the Report, all or part of this amount is received by an entity which is part of the media group and is used to sponsor non-advertising campaigns. Any attempt by PEMRA to probe such matters immediately leads to claims that there is an attempt to curb freedom of the media and there is always the recourse to obtaining a stay order if an inquiry is held.

PEMRA knows fully well who will win the case if it lands in the Supreme Court.

Specifically identifying the programs which received funds from foreign sources, the official statement of the Regulator before the Media Commission alleged that Zara Socheeya had received sponsorship to the tune of Pounds 20 Million. Citing another instance of Aman ki Asha the PEMRA officials alleged the program was being funded by Norwegian NGO named Friends without Borders. It was found by PEMRA that the footprints lead to Indian sponsors including the Indian state television, the Doordarshan.

The programs stated to have been funded by foreigners deal with contents that are, prima facie, harmless. For instance, who would object to peace with India and people-to-people relations that the media group is promoting? The Regulator, however, failed to identify that the Indian funding is actually and indirectly meant for those programs which have launched sustained campaign against Pakistan armed forces and security establishment. The armed forces are engaged in a fierce battle against Indian proxies in Balochistan and FATA and also in Karachi. Running anti-army programs by this channel at the moment is like stabbing Pakistan in the back and weakening the resolve of armed forces to fight. The flagship program, Capital Talk, is used for maligning the ISI and security establishment and pressuring the apex court to distract the security establishment through humiliation and indictment.


Afghan president and Pakistani minister bash ISI, Gen Pasha with one voice

19 Jun

karzai.big_picIt was a real treat to watch interview of Afghan president Hamid Karzai with a Jang Group journalist two days ago. Both the interviewer and the interviewee are known for their sympathies for anti-Pakistan terror outfit, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). President Karzai admitted that Afghanistan has provided safe havens to the elements of TTP. From the very outset, it was clear that the interview was scheduled for the sole purpose of bashing Pakistan’s premier intelligence out, the ISI.

Within two days of Karzai interview, the same media group aired an interview of Pakistan’s Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday. The anchor is known for his hatred of army and ISI and his leanings towards separatist elements of Balochistan, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). Both the journalists very brilliantly made their subjects spit venom against ISI.

ISI is under attack not only from the external front, it is being targeted from inside.

The Interior minister did not attack ISI directly; he carefully targeted its former chief, Gen Pasha. He said in his interview that remnants and the legacy of former ISI chief Gen (r) Shuja Pasha must be eliminated from within the army. The minister knows Pakistan’s entire security establishment inside out. He is the one who paved the way for elevation of Gen Musharraf as COAS through his brother, a general and defense secretary. When Musharraf dismissed Nawaz government in 1999 and jailed Nawaz and other leaders of his party, he did not touch Nisar Khan and lodged him in his house with all comforts at his disposal.

Same is the case of Hamid Karzai. He spent his life in Pakistan before moving into Afghanistan on CIA’s behest in 2001 to take over as president after fall of Taliban government. He too was comfortably lodged in Quetta under the benevolent umbrella of Pakistan’s security agencies. Karzai is known to be a paid operative of CIA and it is no more a secret that he has been receiving bundles of dirty cash from CIA. After the 2004 presidential election, he was declared president regardless of what the actual vote count was. He won a second, even more dubious, five-year-term after the 2009 presidential election.

In an interview with Pak private TV channel Geo, President Karzai said that the military and intelligence agency of Pakistan are adopting crazed killer methods based on religion to destabilize Afghanistan. Playing to the galleries, President Karzai said, he had no complaints against the people of Pakistan because they shared their home and food with Afghans during the ‘Jihad’ years but he seriously had issues with the military and intelligence agency. He said that the military apparatus of Pakistan and its intelligence agency has been always misusing the Afghan good-will to make Afghanistan’s government work as their puppet and surrender to the evil will of that country.

In the era of Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW), such interviews should not be taken lightly. It is the war of perceptions. The media creates perception to discredit the armed forces or glorify their role. The punch line of Karzai interview that Pakistanis are good but ISI is rogue is, in fact a subtle attempt to drive a wedge between the people and their first line of defense, the ISI. Similarly, the punch line of Nisar Khan’s interview that army is generally good but legacy of Gen Pasha must be eliminated will have similar effects as of Karzai’s interview. The minister may have said something he did not know will have adverse ramifications for the armed forces but the well-meaning politicians should be wary of those journalists who make them say something for their own, and their masters’, vested interests.


Death of a terrorist in jail brawl and unwarranted over-reaction of media

2 May


Sarabjit Singh, a terror convict and a RAW agent, has finally succumbed to head injuries sustained by him during a brawl with other prisoners in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail. He was awarded death penalty for killing 14 Pakistanis is terrorist attacks but he got an extended lease of life due to legal hitches which is commonplace in Anglo-Saxon law inherited by both India and Pakistan from their colonial masters. Two Indian spies, Kashmir Singh and Surjeet Singh released from Pakistani jails on humanitarian grounds also confirmed in their interaction with the media that Sarabjit, a RAW agent, was involved in terror activities inside Pakistan. This incident has taken place in Punjab jail when Sethi is the CM, in common perception a more Indian than Indians themselves.

Incidentally, Pakistani law does not allow presidential pardon for terrorists otherwise Sarabjit would have been a free man long ago.

A glance at Indian newspapers would reveal that Sarabjit’s death is the story of the year. The front pages of almost every newspaper contain screaming headlines and he is being made out a hero. Hero he was; for Indians because he was used by Indian establishment to destabilize Pakistan through a series of bomb blasts. But the most inexplicable reaction has come from the Pakistani government, the media and the so-called civil society. They have condemned his death and rightly so because every prisoner has a right to security within the jail premises. Period. No jail authority can prevent prisoners’ scuffle and it is very common even in the American jails.

The so-called liberals and a section of media are rightly upset because they have to follow the line of Indian media and Indian establishment to establish their liberal credentials which they have always been doing. The funniest reaction, however, has come from Pakistani Foreign Office which is virtually begging Indians not to take this issue seriously and hoping against hope that Pakistani prisoner in Indian jails would not be affected by this incident. Pakistani Foreign Office also hopes that this incident would not affect the relations of the two countries.

Pakistani, Kashmiri and Muslim prisoners in Indian jails are treated in a most inhuman way. A Pakistani soldier who spent four decades in Indian jail returned home with his tongue cut. But this was not made an issue by Pakistani media and even the government.

The inmates brawl is more frequent in Indian jails than anywhere in the world. The prisoner who has been convicted of terrorism becomes an object of hate. Only last year a terror suspect Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui, 27, was found murdered inside the high security Yerawada Jail of Pune. He was found strangled, allegedly after a heated brawl with two other inmates, Alok Bhalerao and Sharad Mohol. Siddiqui was arrested by the Delhi police in December 2011 for his alleged involvement in various attacks, including the bombing of the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore in April 2010 and the blasts at the Jamia Masjid in Delhi in 2010.

Pakistani government and the media should introspect for a moment; is this issue worth media attention it is being given. Forget about your Indian counterparts; they would try to extract maximum advantage out of this issue and browbeat you. Don’t forget; Indians needed this issue at this moment because they wanted to distract the attention of their people from a more serious issue of Chinese incursion into Ladakh, an area which Indians claim to be theirs.

Media Commission Report: Being on payroll of foreign governments is a far bigger crime

23 Apr

Federal Ministry of Information, under pressure from the Supreme Court, has provided a list of some journalists who were paid out of Secret Fund of the Ministry. A careful perusal of the list shows that it was a mere joke. Major items of expenditure, so far as they relate to individual journalists, are financial assistance to widows of deceased journalists, expenditure on boarding, lodging and air tickets during their trips with PM or special assignment. The big chunk of money went to a advertising agency for making BB song. This song is being aired for influencing voters to vote for PPP. It was sadly funded out of Secret Fund which is taxpayers’ hard-earned money. The other big money was paid to a private channel, only God knows for what purpose.

It is a common practice that all countries buy journalists and ghost writers to either write in their favor or against their opponents. While the court has somehow made the ministry spill beans about its “bribe” to journalists to write about Pakistan, who will unearth the amounts in foreign exchange being doled out to some journalists and anchors in Pakistan to spit venom against Pakistan’s security establishment at every available opportunity. Being on the payroll of Pakistan may be a crime as it is being made out, but being being on the payroll of foreign agencies is far bigger crime and unforgivable. But recipients of cash and kind form CIA, MI6 and RAW are happy that the courts in those countries would never allow to make their names public except after some time when classified documents would be declassified.