Shireen Mazari Embarasses The Nation

Dec 24th, 2009 | By | Category: The Nation

UPDATE: A dear reader has written that he has a copy of the article and says that the author once worked with Shireen Mazari in Pakistan and is exposing some pretty damning evidence about her! I will keep this blog updated with more information as I receive it!

Thanks to a tip from a dear reader we have been informed that there is a new article coming out in the American magazine The New Republic about Nation editor Shireen Mazari in which the author calls her “The Ann Coulter of Pakistan” and speaks at length about her paranoid delusions and yellow journalism. The article is written by Mr. Nicholas Schmidle, an international journalist who has written a book about the two years that he lived in Pakistan as a journalism fellow and now lives in America and is a fellow at the think tank New America Foundation.

Our dear reader included a link to a blog post by Michael Crowley, a journalist for The New Republic, that discusses Mr. Schmidle’s coming article and the state of media in Pakistan generally:

At the heart of this problem is the anti-Americanism and conspiracy-mongering of Pakistan’s media, which I saw first-hand when I read through a large stack of local papers at the embassy. So I was glad to find on my return to Washington this week that the latest print issue of TNR features a really top-notch article by Nicholas Schmindle about Shireen Mazari, a Pakistani journalist who’s been dubbed “the Anne Coulter of Pakistan,” and who has been responsible for countless stories like the one that recently speculated about whether a Wall Street Journal reporter in the country is actually a CIA spy, potentially endangering his life. When I was Islamabad, one newspaper (I believe it was Mazari’s The Nation, which is generally the worst offender) ran a story which included the wacko claim, attributed to Seymour Hersh, that a “death squad” backed by Dick Cheney was behind the 2007 assassination of Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto as well as the 2005 murder of Lebanese prime minister Raffik Hariri. (It seems this nutty rumor has been floating around since at least May, even though Hersh himself has publicly denied saying such a thing) In Islamabad, American officials told us about another story that identified–complete with photograph–a building in the city purportedly housing workers for the security contractor Xe (nee Blackwater). In fact, the building was home to Western aid workers–at least until they fled to safer environs that same day. 

Stories like this fan the rising flames of anti-Americanism in Islamabad. A reporter traveling with me had hoped to meet a colleague at a coffee shop in central Islamabad, until embassy workers warned him that the shop was known to be under surveillance by people who might like to kidnap a Westerner. One embassy official told me that he enjoys dining out at Islamabad’s restaurants–but when pressed admitted that he never lingers for coffee and dessert. “You try to be out within an hour,” he said. (The same goes for activities like grocery shopping.) The Pakistani media surely also contributes to the growing harassment of U.S. embassy officials, who are finding their visas inexplicably denied and their vehicles pointlessly searched at security checkpoints around the city.  So it’s understandable that the vibe within the embassy compound–a deceptively bucolic place of walking paths and tennis courts that seems more college campus than  embattled diplomatic outpost–feels so tense. After all, even behind the barricades and razor wire safety is not guaranteed. We all remember the 1979 storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. But less remembered is the way an angry mob overran and torched our embassy in Islamabad that same year. One U.S. Marine was killed, and it was a miracle that dozens more American lives weren’t lost. (As Steve Coll recounts in his masterful book Ghost Wars, the Pakistani government barely lifted a finger to help.)

The cause of that deadly riot? False Pakistani media reports that the U.S. had orchestrated an attack on Mecca. Lies have consequences–sometimes deadly ones.

I will be waiting with great anticipation to see this article, as I am certain, is Shireen Mazari herself. A quick search of The Nation‘s website only found one mention of Mr. Schmidle in which he is referred to as “an expert on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region for the non-partisan New America Foundation.” I’m sure Mazari will have a new title for him once the article is released.

In the meantime, it is quite disappointing that Pakistan’s media is being discussed with such negative tones in the rest of the world. We have Shireen Mazari and her band of paranoid conspiracy theorists and media Talibans to thank for this. As the author Mr. Crowley correctly says, “Lies have consequences.” When Pakistan’s media talking heads spread lies and gossip instead of proper reporting, it not only sets our country on a wrong path, it makes us look foolish to the rest of the world.

If any of our dear readers have a copy of the article by Mr. Schmidle or any other tips, please send an email to us at pakistanmediawatch@gmail.com and we will be most appreciative of your assistance.

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