Tag Archives: pre

Chronicles foretold – By Najam Sethi

– The cold-blooded torture and murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad by “invisible agencies” roused the journalists of Pakistan to unite and demand an independent and credible commission of inquiry to unearth the facts and punish the perpetrators. A media “dharna” outside parliament in Islamabad was aimed at securing an independent supreme court judge to head the inquiry instead of Justice Agha Rafiq, the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court, nominated by President Asif Zardari.

Two questions arose. First, why did the media unite in such an unprecedented manner in this case when it didn’t do so in the case of the sixteen journalists so far killed this year in Pakistan? What was so particularly frightening or significant about this murder that compelled the media to stand up and be counted? Second, why did President Zardari originally pick a “Zardari-loyalist” to head this commission? Was this aimed at shielding any slip up or criminality on the part of the PPP government? And if it wasn’t, who was President Zardari trying to shield and why?

The answers are straight forward enough. Saleem Shehzad had recorded his problems with the ISI and left a testament indicting it if he was harmed. He was writing a book exposing the inroads into the armed forces and ISI made by retired or serving officers sympathetic to Al Qaeda’s violent ideology. Such exposure was deemed irrevocably embarrassing to the national security establishment. It explained the lack of preparedness on the part of the military to defend and protect itself — as evidenced in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Abbottabad in recent times. It also confirmed the fears of the international community about the security of the nukes, triggering scenarios of pre-emptive action against them in the event of their seizure by rogues allied to Al Qaeda. When Saleem Shehzad went ahead and published his book, he had to be silenced.

That, at least, is the media’s perception of what happened to him and why. Thus the media banded together to demand accountability so that the same fate did not befall any other journalist. If this perception was wrong, an independent commission of inquiry should have been able to establish the innocence of the ISI and redeem its credibility. If it was right, the ISI had to be chastened and cleansed of such elements. What is wrong with this way of thinking? Indeed, when an attempt is made to hide the facts behind a stooge commission, such suspicions and perceptions take deep roots and protests are inclined to become more widespread and violent. If President Zardari hadn’t finally heeded the journalists’ threat and appointed Justice Saqib Nisar to head the commission instead of Mr Agha Rafiq, the media was all geared up to announce a blackout of all government news and military press statements and advice.

Much the same sort of trouble for the government and military may be forecast for another commission of inquiry pledged by parliament to uncover the truth behind the Abbottabad debacle. In this case, too, the military seems to have leaned on the weak PPP government to desist from seriously inquiring into the mishap because it would deeply embarrass the “national security establishment” and conceivably jeopardise its “strategic relationship” with its Pentagon counterpart in the United States.

In both instances, however, there is one critical factor that threatens to derail the unholy nexus between a weak government and an arrogant military that are clutching at each other for protection. That is the opposition lead by Nawaz Sharif. The PMLN stood solidly with the fearful media in the first instance and will back the outraged public in the second. No less significantly, the sympathies of the newly independent judiciary are with the media, opposition and public. This is an inherently unstable and precarious situation. Where do we go from here?

The military has no option but to press the strategic “Paradigm Reset” button. The media and judiciary have joined the stake holders’ club. The military must realize that it is no longer capable of “managing” or “manipulating” or “blackmailing” the twice-bitten opposition to do its bidding blindly. The media too has been empowered by a wave of “citizen-journalists” who cannot be repressed. There are 20 million internet users in Pakistan and 4 million Facebook freaks and Tweeters. This organic new species had defied the dictators of the Middle East and smashed their censors. It is destined to do the same in Pakistan.

The situation is fraught with dangers of unmanageable upheaval. The military must adjust its sights accordingly. If, for example, the US were to launch any new unilateral action that outraged the Pakistani media, opposition and public, the military would be caught in the eye of the storm. It won’t be able to resist the public pressure but it also wouldn’t like to be savaged by America. Thus it could be the biggest loser in the game. Forewarned is forearmed.

Courtesy: Friday Times

via Wichaar

Pakistan : Turning villains into heroes

Turning villains into heroes

The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is the mother of religious terrorism in Pakistan. It is the only party that has ideologues, strategists and operators. The JI knows how to, directly or indirectly, use the religious parties to its advantage.

When killer Mumtaz Malik Qadri was shooting at Governor Salmaan Taseer (shaheed) his security colleagues remained mere spectators. After committing this act he was safely handed over to the police. After a few minutes, his confession statement was leaked to the media. Up until then the media was using the word “martyred” for Governor Taseer but after his confession statement was whipped up by everyone, suddenly the words “assassinated” and “killed” replaced martyred, and the killer was declared a “ghazi”. In no time the killer was being compared with Ilm Din who had been praised by Allama Mohammad Iqbal and defended by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in court. In short, the martyred was turned into a villain, and a killer into a ghazi.

You must be thinking how all this happened so quickly, as if the angels themselves were directing the TV channels. Divine inspiration cannot explain the turn of the media. However, this rhetoric can be attributed to organised groups — agencies or operators of political parties and terrorist groups — deputed to take care of the media. Such elements use all kinds of methods like threats and enticements to force the media to use their language. The Salmaan Taseer case shows very well how the planners quickly got hold of Qadri’s confession and put it all over the media.

Salmaan Taseer’s martyrdom reminds me of the early 1970 period of Punjab University (PU). Then the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) was testing its initial model of Islamisation in PU, which was later implemented in the rest of the country by various religious and political parties. Incidentally, members of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) have penetrated many political parties, particularly the PML-N, MQM and some others. The etymology of religious terrorism is very different in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Punjab where the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT’s) PU model is self-evident. This is one of the reasons why 90 percent of blasphemy cases have been registered in Punjab where the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) are most powerful.

I vividly remember how the IJT used to plan before terrorising a student or a teacher. For example, a night before action they would prepare posters condemning the ‘Surkha ghunda gardi’ (terrorism of the Left). They would then assign people to go to the police station to file a report against the Left. It was rumoured in those days that the JI managed to have their chosen police officers employed in the Wahdat Colony police station, which covered the university’s jurisdiction. The next day, within minutes, after breaking the bones of some of its opposing students or insulting a teacher, they would put up these posters on every wall of the university. In no time, a police report would be filed and the police would be moved to arrest the victims. Sometimes press statements about the incidents were sent to the media even before the action. This is how methodically the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), through the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), terrorised the left-liberal students and teachers.

Now review the chronology of events on the day Salmaan Taseer was martyred in this backdrop. You will see that it was all pre-planned. The planners knew how the governor was going to be gunned down, how the killer would be handed over to the police and how his confession statement was to reach the media. It seems that the planners had prepared teams to manipulate the media through threats or enticement. Without planning, media portrayal does not get reversed so quickly. …

Read more : WICHAAR