Tag Archives: disinformation

Hyper nationalism can wait, Kashmiris need succour first

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A natural disaster of apocalyptic proportions has hit Kashmir. It is unprecedented in recent memory across three generations and has left tens of thousands marooned besides destroying vital infrastructure. The extent of the human toll is unclear. Reports of floating bodies and those trapped inside collapsed houses makes it a frightening scenario. Almost all major hospitals have been affected and practically dysfunctional. The ones which worked were fast running out of life-saving drugs, painkillers, food and water. Near total power and communications breakdown has complicated relief work. Even after the water recedes, Kashmir would suffer physical, economic and psychological consequences of the disaster for years to come.

Yet it seems to business as usual – dehumanizing Kashmiris — for certain people even in the midst of the catastrophe that has directly affected an estimated 60% people. It is the same old ‘good us’ versus ‘evil them’ subtext — based on chronic disinformation — that is playing out even in the sections of the mainstream media. It is been much worse on the social media. Nauseating trolling has become even more vicious in the name of exclusivist nationalism, which has no place for the monolithic other like Kashmiris. Abuse and sadistic pleasure being drawn from the colossal damage to human life and property has been very distressing particularly for non-resident Kashmiris, who have relied on social media to find out the fate of their loved ones caught in killer flood waters.

Continue reading Hyper nationalism can wait, Kashmiris need succour first

Benazir Bhutto on Pakistan’s Military Establishment and how the Generals undermine Democracy

From Syed Ali Dayan Hasan in London

The security apparatus has run amok

In her most candid interview since 1988, Benazir Bhutto, twice elected prime minister of Pakistan, reveals the extent to which successive civilian governments have been held hostage, and destabilised, by the ‘securityapparatus’ of the military. Bhutto, chairperson of the PPP — the single largest political party of the country — explains the helplessness of civilian governments in the face of Intelligence-inspired disinformation on the one hand, and ideologically motivated illegal activities of ‘rogue elements’ of the army on the other. She argues that the security apparatus of the country is out of control and that no government can hope to function smoothly unless these elements are brought under a formalised command structure that prevents them from taking on the role of a state within a state. There is much evidence to support Bhutto’s claims, including that of her adversaries — General Aslam Beg, General Hameed Gul and General Asad Durrani — all of whom conspired against civilian governments and have repeatedly gone on record to admit as much. “Blaming politicians alone for tarnishing democracy is actually less than half the story,” argues Bhutto. Here, she explains why.

Q. What do you think is the basic problem with civil-military relations?

A. The inability of the military tobow before the people’s will.

Q. Why is that?

A. The military’s view on security and government is at variance with the popular will. Pakistan is a federation but the armed forces distrust provincial units. They are scared of giving up power.

Q. So, what is the solution to this impasse in civil-military relations?

A. Either we have democracy or dictatorship. The military seeks a dictatorship or a controlled democracy to continue with their security agenda. They need the centralised state and a diversion of resources for that security agenda. For the first time, they are realising the difficulty of running the ship of state. I believe the solution lies in democracy and devolution. We should return to the roots of the Quaid. He founded Pakistan on the principles of federalism, autonomy and freedom. If we revert to this dream, we might devolve more power but we will be more secure.

Q. How has the army managed to present a discredited image of political figures, including you?

A. I dispute that they have succeeded but I agree that they have tried. There are two factors that explain this. One, political institutions are weak and have financial resources and organisational ability. Also, they are unable to communicate freely with the masses. This is because genuine political forces have been continually hunted by the establishment, and when you are constantly hunted, you have little time to organise. Second, because the army does give power to some politicians, it has divided the civilian popular base by holding out to those who cannot win — the promise of power without legitimacy.

Q. You have presided twice over a controlled democracy.What have you learnt from the experience?

A. There is a tendency in Pakistan, due to military dictatorships and one-man rule, to think that one person can make allthe difference. But in a democratic system, it is not just one person that makes a difference. A democratic, such as myself, functions within the confines of the constitution. We need a civic consensus on what a constitution should be and what constitutes freedom and plurality. I had to work on the mandate I was given and that is why I say that we did not achieve much. I had to work with the 8th amendment and a president who could sack the prime minister. In other words, some elements in the intelligence agencies used the president when they felt I was becoming too powerful. They never allowed us enough time to elect members of the senate which would have made my partyand the democratic forces — stronger. The real solution lies not with any individual. I can only give a clarion call. Then it depends on the masses whether they rally around that call to say that they want a constitution based on the supremacy of the will of the people and that the prime minister and parliament must determine national security and not the military.

Q. But then, if you had commanded a two-thirds majority and could have amended the constitution, a coup would have taken place against you ….

Read more » Scribd

http://www.scribd.com/doc/78809888/Benazir-Bhutto-on-Pakistan-s-Military-Establishment-and-how-the-Generals-undermine-Democracy#source:facebook

An era of misinformation – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The combination of religious extremism and unbridled capitalism became very lethal in Pakistan. Every sector, including the media, produced a new class of rich people all spewing a demented worldview

Whenever something critical is written about religious extremism, jihadis, the Taliban or the Pakistan military, it is considered the magic of American dollars. Perhaps some confused misguided individuals genuinely believe that most of the $ 1.5 billion of US aid is being deposited in the bank accounts of a few liberal and enlightened columnists. The fact of the matter is that one or two English dailies that publish such material are always in financial trouble, unable to pay the wages and compensation to workers and writers. On the contrary, most of the media outlets are owned and run by the most conservative tycoons who generously compensate the pro-jihadi and pro-military columnists, talk-show hosts and their handlers.

It is very easy to find out who has benefitted from the explosion of the media as an industry. Count the number of shows and their hosts who are preachers of Islamisation, and who are always finding a Yahood-o-Hunood (Jewish and Hindu) conspiracy for everything that goes wrong in Pakistan. Most of the media men getting salaries in millions per month will fall into this category. The fortunes of these right-wing media persons are just like Hollywood-Bollywood top stars. The only difference is that the largest film industries’ rags to riches stories are related to an independent entertainment industry while said Pakistani media persons are pushing the corporate media’s fuzzy thinking and disinformation endorsed by the military, its agencies and mentally challenged emerging ruling classes.

Besides other things, Islamisation and jihad-preaching has become a huge industry involving millions of stakeholders. Writing jihad-preaching textbooks for millions of students for the government/privately-run educational system (from kindergarten to university level) to printing and publishing them is a mammoth industry. Unlike most other countries that prepare the students for improving the production of the economic sector, Pakistan’s education is geared towards producing jihadi producers and consumers. Once the jihad-fed generation of producers (media men) and consumers (readers and viewers) came of age, the stage was set for an unprecedented age of misinformation in Pakistan.

The overwhelming ethos of religious self-righteousness was accompanied by infinite greed, corruption, lack of work ethics and professionalism. In the British ‘pagan’ era, all such socio-economic ills were minimal. Unleashing of Darwinian capitalism on the international level by the Reagan-Thatcher era also confounded the problem. The combination of religious extremism and unbridled capitalism became very lethal in Pakistan. Every sector, including the media, produced a new class of rich people all spewing a demented worldview. Religious extremism, jihad, political anarchy, and the collapsing of different state institutions have immensely benefited the new rich: their simultaneous rise has to have some interlocking dynamics. One obvious link is the abandonment of any sense of equity, where the gains of economic development have been usurped by the top five or ten percent, including the media persons.

In Pakistan, jihadi Islam has been a big business after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Billions of dollars, pumped in by the US, Europe and the Middle Eastern monarchies have changed hands. Pakistan’s military and its agencies were the main channels to distribute jihadi money among the mullahs, politicians and media outlets. Further, since the state was run by the military and its agencies, they were the only ones who had key information that can make or break the media outlets, pen-pushers, and tongue-twisters.

No bigwig media warrior could survive or sustain without having deeper links in the ‘agencies’ because these military outfits were the only ones who had the know-how, manpower, finances and coercive authority to collect information about everyone, particularly the politicians and other state operators. The secret agencies were holding the purse and the information to create media jihadi warriors and eliminate the few who would try to deviate from the ‘path.’ Umar Cheema and Saleem Shahzad’s cases are the latest in a series of murders and disappearances of ‘wanderers of truth’, particularly if they happened to be from smaller nationalities or minority ethnic groups.

The parameters of media control have never changed even after the American departure from Afghanistan by the end of the 80s and re-entry after 2001. In the interval of the US’s absence, the Middle Eastern monarchies have been supplying the funds. Nonetheless, the funds coming in from all these channels have been disbursed by the same old agencies to the same old beneficiaries. A few poor liberal enlightened media men are not the ones upon whom dollars shine. The greenback is still blessing the same old jihadi crowd, nowadays called the ‘ghairat’ (honour) brigade.

With the expansion of the jihad market, the media has gained its own clout and the US is more interested in buying out the most anti-America media outlets, pen-pushers and tongue-twisters. Some were bought in broad daylight and many of us know about it. Now media tycoons have accumulated huge sums of profit and the US may not be the only source of outrageous (given Pakistani median income) compensation. Just read daily ‘khutbas’ (sermons) in the most popular newspapers and listen to the talk shows and decide yourself. Other than jihadi fuzzy-thinking, what else are these media groups selling to the market? Short answer: nothing!

Courtesy: → WICHAAR.COM