The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground
Some time back, an Islamabad-based think tank, Jinnah Institute (JI), published a report, ‘Pakistan, the United States and the End Game in Afghanistan: Perceptions of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Elite’. This report was criticised by some writers in the media for its justification of Pakistan’s security policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan. The well-known pro-military establishment journalists tried hard to defend the report. In the process, they exposed their own pro-establishment biases, in addition to have failed to address the valid objections on the report raised by the critics.
Now, the JI has come out with another report, ‘Extremism Watch: Mapping Conflict Trends in Pakistan 2010-2011’. The key reason why the report is misplaced is that it is mainly based on — as stated in its methodology (pg 6) — reports from English and Urdu media in Pakistan. But most of the Pakistani English and Urdu media is neither independent nor abides by any professional or ethical standards in reporting on matters that are the exclusive domain of Pakistan’s military establishment, such as policies about Afghanistan and India. These policies are closely interwoven with religious extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, the issues that this JI report seeks to look into. The media blatantly distorts facts to produce and promote narratives, discourses and arguments that concur with the security establishment’s policies. The authors of the JI report seem to make no attempt to cross check the media reports with information on the ground.
To elaborate my point, I will comment on one of the essays in the JI report, ‘Turning the Schools to Stones’, to highlight its bias. What the writer of this essay is saying about the bombing of schools in the Pashtun areas — FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even in Afghanistan — is this.
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