*By Imran Jan
As is the ritual, The New York Times headline mentions Pakistan’s election with signature propaganda style. Pakistan is described in a grim manner as an “Islamic Republic with nuclear weapons”. I have never seen The New York Times describe Israel as a ‘Jewish state with nuclear weapons’ or India as a ‘Hindu state with nuclear weapons’ or the United States as a ‘Christianity-dominated country that elected a lunatic Ku Klux Klan endorsed President with a “much bigger” and “more powerful” nuclear button”. To detect the pain of the Western media with the possibility of Imran Khan becoming the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, one does not need to read between the lines. They are very visibly upset.
In some of their reports by Jeffrey Gettleman, the allegations of politicians being threatened and blackmailed by the Pakistan Army are presented as undisputed facts with a short phrase snuck in there that the “human rights groups have said”, in an attempt to fulfil the journalistic requirements of mere reporting and not giving or manufacturing an opinion. But make no mistake, this is not journalism, but rather cherry-picking of sources who would provide one-sided view to further strengthen the propagandistic narrative: that Imran Khan and the Pakistan Army are the villains. Otherwise, even scant attention was not paid when the same human rights groups condemned CIA’s drone strikes in the tribal areas that were killing innocent people and creating more terrorists.
People like Nighat Dad, Reham Khan and Husain Haqqani are interviewed to make the reporting appear as coming from experts and dissidents of the country. These people and many others like them should rightly be labelled as opportunists who pass themselves as patriots representing the true aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Nothing can be further from the truth. Among foreign analysts, the choice of Christine Fair is again part of the same pattern. Fair is a staunch anti-Pakistan fraud intellectual.
In a debate between Christine Fair and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald on Al-Jazeera programme UpFront, Fair called Greenwald a ‘liar’ and hardly let him speak causing host Mehdi Hasan to ask her to stop. Etiquette was not the only weakness in Fair, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Shadi Hamid called her arguments “surprisingly weak”. After the debate, she took to Twitter and expressed pride over her ill-mannered behaviour by saying that she “shut that lying clown down”. Elsewhere on social media she has called Pakistan “an enemy” and said “We invaded the wrong dog-damned country”, implying the US should have invaded Pakistan instead of Afghanistan. In a Facebook post she further said, “India needs to woman up and ‘squash’ Pakistan militarily, diplomatically, politically and economically.”
Having such frauds on the show speak about Pakistan is going to create a skewed perception about Pakistan and its loyal military. There is a thin line between journalism and propaganda. A free journalism, if something of the sorts exists, would have reported both sides of the argument. And that is not even doing the nuanced journalistic work. That is just elementary journalism: that you present both sides.
Furthermore, the reporting goes on to aver that the Supreme Court of Pakistan ousted Nawaz Sharif from office and eventually sent him to prison under the Army’s pressure. Again, this is an example of journalism that treats hearsay, propaganda or opinion as facts. Not a word is being dedicated to mention the Panama Papers that resulted in ousting Nawaz were not cooked in Aabpara or Rawalpindi. I am confident, Panama does not have cities or towns by those names.
*The article was first published in The Express Tribune
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