Why are opinion pieces 'Top Stories' in The News?

Jul 24th, 2010 | By | Category: Jang, The News

The News continues to mistake blatant opinion columns for actual news, and publishes them as top stories in the newspaper.

Today’s issue includes two stories about the second tenure as COAS granted to Gen. Ashraf Kayani by PM Gilani that offer no factual news reporting, but instead are opinion columns opposing Gen. Kayani’s continued service as head of the military.

The first column, by Ikram Sehgal, is not so much a news report at all, but an examination of Gen. Kayani’s new tenure viewed in the context of the author’s previous opinion columns.

In a dramatic late night announcement by the prime minister on July 22, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was given an extension as COAS for three years from the date his present term expires on November 29, 2010. By some coincidence in my article last Thursday, I had said: “A new COAS of the Pakistan Army must be promoted. It would be severely disappointing if Kayani accepted the offer of extension being dangled in front of him. He hasan image that would suffer for posterity. If he cannot be C-in-C, Kayani should refuse an extension in the Waheed Kakar tradition”.

In essence, Ikram Sehgal is even admitting that he is not a news reporter, but is actually a serial opinion columnist. This is fine, and he is certainly entitled to his opinions, but his columns should be moved to the Opinion page and not published as legitimate news stories.

The same problem is found with Ansar Abbasi. His column today is another opinion piece that opposes a new tenure for Gen. Kayani. In fact, Ansar Abbasi’s column does not even pretend to be a factual report, but includes his opinion in the very title of the column: “Was this extension really needed? Probably not.”

Ansar Abbasi goes on to repeat the same opinion voiced by Ikram Sehgal in his column – that Gen. Kayani should refuse to accept a new tenure and simply retire.

Kayani did perform extremely well as the Army chief, he remained apolitical, did not allow the military to intervene in politics, generally believed to have fought well against terrorism, ensured free and fair February 2008 elections and played his role quite sensibly during tense moments but still giving him an extension should have been avoided. It is yet to be seen if Kayani would accept the offer and continue till November 2013. It would, however, be good for the institution of Army if he does not.

This is, unfortunately, not a problem only in today’s issue. Just yesterday, The News Group Editor Shaheen Sehbai wrote an opinon column that was featured as a ‘top story’ and was nothing but an opinion piece with a little conspiracy thrown in for good measure.

The government must be feeling a sense of relief calculating that in the last two years General Kayani has kept the army away from politics, as much as he could, had not interfered even when there was a lot of noise against corruption, highhandedness and defiance to the superior judiciary and had ìtoleratedî the shortcomings or inadequacies of the elected government, deliberately looking away in the national interest.

Again, this is not news reporting but Shaheen Sehbai taking the opportunity to air his opinion against the elected government.

Shaheen Sehbai, Ikram Sehgal and Ansar Abbasi all wrote opinion columns opposing a new tenure as COAS for Gen. Kayani. They did not write news reports. These pieces do not belong as ‘top stories’ but would be appropriate on the opinion page. If The News is concerned that there are too many opinions to fit only the opinion page and thus they need to fill the rest of the newspaper with them, perhaps they need to change their name from The News to The Opinion.

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  1. Issue of fake degree has been largely politicized and only thing praise worthy in this scenario is perhaps the Role of Media. The ethics of Journalism in our country might be questionable considering the almost infant age of the industry and the general state of lawlessness. Media is emerging as another dictator and trying to grab maximum power. For this very purpose media has abandoned all the moral values and ethics. The increasing irresponsibility of the media is posing severe threat to our country. Drastic steps need to control the media and there must be code of conduct. Some sections of Media are making wrong use of its powers in the name of freedom of expression. We should learn from our mistakes and denounce such journalists and media person that are representatives of yellow journalism.

  2. Shaheen Sehbai “inciting” Civil War in Pakistan and his conclusion is based on Altaf Hussain’s statement:) Page 3: Monday, August 23, 2010, Ramzan 12, 1431 A.H http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/aug2010-daily/23-08-2010/main3.htm Shaheen Sehbai is a fool to the hilt who doesn’t even know that Thori Bund has nothing to do with Khursheed Shah:)

  3. Altaf asks ‘patriotic generals’ to act Monday, August 23, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin http://www.thenews.com.pk/23-08-2010/Top-Story/

    One day before this statement?

    U.S Counselor Brian D. Hunt met Altaf Hussain in London SUNDAY, AUGUST 22, 2010

    Mr. Altaf Hussain conveniently forget that it was MQM who supported the most corrupt NROed Asif Ali Zardari for the post of the President of Pakistan???

    MQM to support Zardari for presidential slot: Altaf Monday, August 25, 2008 By our correspondent Karachi [link is dead read in the old newspapers of Jang and The News]

    The coordination committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Rabita Committee will support Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari for the presidential slot, MQM Founder and Chief Altaf Hussain said Sunday. Addressing a general workers’ meeting at the office of the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF), Altaf asked workers whether they approved the decision of the Rabita Committee. The huge gathering endorsed the decision. He also appealed to the Haq Parast people of Punjab to support Zardari and urged Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif to support Zardari for his presidential election and avoid confrontation.

    Hussain said that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) and the Awami National Party (ANP) had also announced to support Zardari, who was at the moment the most suitable candidate as his wife had given her life for the restoration of democracy. Benazir Bhutto’s father and brother also sacrificed their lives for democracy, Hussain said. He asked Sharif to avoid any kind of crisis as the need of the hour at the moment was to remain united. Hussain said that after he had extended support to Zardari it was being given an ethnic colour and the PML-N had started opposing the idea.

    Referring to sectarian clashes in D.I. Khan and Parachinar, Hussain said that the MQM could play the role of mediator and bring closer various religious scholars for creating harmony among different sects. He paid tribute to the law-enforcement agencies who are trying to control the highly tense situation in D.I. Khan and Parachinar. He lauded the role of the Adviser to the Prime Minister for Interior Rehman Malik for arranging food and shelter for those people who had migrated. Hussain referred to his past speeches and said they were given a wrong impression and said the MQM was neither against the Pakhtoons nor the ANP. The MQM is against Talibanisation, Hussain said. He stressed that the party would never allow Talibanisation in Sindh, including Karachi as Sindh was the land of Sufis and citizens of this province were peace-loving. He said the people of Karachi were against extremism and any kind of terrorism. He asked the Pakhtoons and the ANP to not get provoked as the MQM was not against them.He also appealed to the well-to-do people to donate generously zakat, fitra and other donations in Ramazan to Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation (KKF) as this organisation was helping the needy. Hussain’s address from London was simultaneously telecast in 19 cities of Pakistan. A KKF board of trustees was also formed and Dr Farooq Sattar was named its Secretary General.

  4. Shaheen Sehbai’s defamation charges against Azeem Daultana, PTH and LUBP – by Pakistan Media Watch http://criticalppp.com/archives/18060/comment-page-1#comment-19486

  5. Altaf asks ‘patriotic generals’ to act Monday, August 23, 2010 By Fasahat Mohiuddin

    What about the “Martyrs” from 1992 to 1999? Just “Fatheha”


    The Karachi king – After a bloody conflict in Karachi, much-feared political boss Altaf Hussain fled to London, but he is no less powerful in Pakistan by Mustafa Qadri
    guardian.co.uk, Monday 6 July 2009 18.00 BST http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/06/altaf-hussain-karachi-pakistan-london

    With his healthy plume of gravity-defying hair and chunky tinted glasses, Altaf Hussain is as colourful in appearance as his reputation suggests. Perhaps no other Pakistani politician has as big a list of enemies as the one-time cabbie and university student who transformed himself into one of the most feared political bosses in the country. That he has directed his Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) party from the distant shores of the UK since 1994 speaks volumes for his enduring influence in the treacherous political life of Pakistan.

    Hussain came to prominence as an advocate for the rights of Pakistan’s “muhajir” population – those Urdu-speaking communities that originally travelled to the country from India following partition in 1947. The move to Pakistan was traumatic for the subcontinent’s Urdu-speaking communities. They often faced hostile indigenous populations, especially in Sindh and Punjab where most of them settled, and were discriminated against in universities and employment.

    Hussain’s political career was born out of this marginalisation. Had it not been for the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, however, it is unlikely that he would have risen to prominence. Zia was a master of divide-and-rule politics and sectarianism and ethnic tensions rose under his dictatorship. In Hussain’s MQM, Zia saw potential for yet another political platform for dividing would-be federalist opponents.

    From inception, the MQM’s powerbase has been Karachi, Pakistan’s simmering, overcrowded economic hub. It is also home to the country’s largest Urdu-speaking population. For decades the MQM has dominated local politics, albeit more often than not in manners and means outside the formal parliamentary process.

    When it ruled Karachi with what critics described as a mafia-like organisation in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the city was engulfed in violence (either endorsed of ignored by the MQM), many of its political opponents mysteriously disappeared only to be later found as corpses, often with the scars of gruesome torture. In 1996 the US state department accused the MQM, along with other political factions, of involvement in torture, summary killings and other abuses. As I noted in an earlier piece for Cif on Karachi, many Karachites have their own personal stories of the period.

    The army eventually stepped into the chaotic milieu in 1992, setting the stage for a bloody conflict that, at its height between 1992 and 1995, saw up to 10 political activists murdered per day. In the same fighting, Hussain’s brothers and several cousins were killed by his opponents. The violence compelled Hussain to flee the country, first to the autocrat-friendly Saudi Arabia and finally to the UK where he still lives.

    Ever since then, Hussain has been too fearful to return to Pakistan.

    Yet he remains ubiquitous in Karachi, not least in the MQM posters liberally scattered in the party’s stronghold districts. The party faithful sing his praises too, and Hussain still sends his daily orders to them from his Mill Hill residence in North London.

    One of those orders has been the controversial effort to prevent ethnic Pashtuns taking refuge in the southern state of Sindh while fleeing from the Taliban war in the North West Frontier Province. Hussain and the MQM, the most vocal and vociferous opponents of the Taliban in Pakistan, have spoken regularly of the “Talibanisation” of Karachi owing to its ever-growing Pashtun population, a largely poor community of economic migrants that do much of the menial work in the large port city. Those claims, sparked by rumours that Taliban have slipped into Sindh by posing as refugees and a spate of high-profile police operations against alleged pro-Taliban syndicates in Karachi, have helped add Pakistan’s Pashtun population to Hussain’s already large list of enemies.

    The animosity has fuelled a bloody running battle in Karachi between MQM and Pashtun activists from the secular Awami National party that has claimed hundreds of lives.

    It is difficult to find people outside his MQM who consider Hussain a positive influence. According to the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, Hussain’s MQM is “a fascist movement run by criminals”.

    To be fair to Hussain, however, all of Pakistan’s major political parties are beholden to a few powerful individuals or families. And just like those other parties, the MQM has shown a remarkable capacity to make friends of past enemies.

    Despite its support for the former military dictator Pervez Musharraf and his clamp down on dissent, the MQM is now part of the coalition government currently dominated by the Pakistan Peoples party that spent nine long Musharraf years in opposition.

    Historically, the PPP’s first family, the Bhuttos, have been Hussain’s greatest rivals. In recent times the necessities of parliamentary politics have forced both parties to bury the hatchet. Only last week, Pakistan interior adviser and senior PPP stalwart Rehman Malik met Hussain in London to discuss, among other things, the possible addition of MQM parliamentarians to the already bloated federal cabinet.

    There is little doubt that Hussain will be following events closely from the suburbs of London. He is a political survivor who shows no signs of disappearing quietly into history.


  6. The MQM leader alleged that Pakistani rulers were busy in shopping abroad instead of presenting Pakistan’s case,Monday, 23 Aug 2010 Altaf slams ‘corrupt politicians shopping abroad’
    Reality is as under:


    The Karachi ruling party ‘run like the mafia’ from an office block in London Declan Walsh in Karachi and Matthew Taylor The Guardian, Saturday 2 June 2007

    · MQM accused of planning carnage which left 42 dead
    · Khan calls for leader in UK to face anti-terror charges

    Outside may be Karachi but inside the discreetly guarded room all minds are focused on London. The clock is set to British summer time and a pair of telephones connect to an office 5,000 miles away, from where a controversial Pakistani leader runs his political empire.
    Altaf Hussain leads the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – a powerful, popular and, critics say, thuggish political force that has a vice-like grip on Karachi. At “Nine Zero”, the party headquarters in a middle-class suburb, his presence looms large. A giant poster hangs over the entrance and reverential acolytes speak of “Altaf bhai”, or brother. But the great leader is missing.

    For the past 16 years Mr Hussain has lived in self-imposed exile in the UK, first as an asylum seeker and now as a British citizen. Based in an office block on Edgware High Street in north London he rules by phone, directing his closest lieutenants in long, late-night conversations. But in Pakistan that arrangement has become a matter of controversy – one about to land at the British government’s door.

    Yesterday the cricketer turned politician Imran Khan arrived in London to try to have Mr Hussain prosecuted under British anti-terror laws. Three weeks ago gunmen opened fire on a rally in support of the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, triggering a day of bloodshed that left 42 people dead. Mr Khan – as well as lawyers, human rights activists and opposition parties – accuse Mr Hussain of orchestrating the carnage from his sofa in London.

    “The whole thing was planned. No British citizen is allowed to sit in London and direct terrorist operations abroad. So why should Altaf Hussain?” said Mr Khan who described the MQM as “a fascist movement run by criminals”.

    If Pakistan has to arrest al-Qaida operatives then Britain has an obligation to pick up Mr Hussain, added Mr Khan, who plans to bring a petition to Downing Street. “There’s a war on terror going on but here we have Pakistan’s No 1 terrorist being given sanctuary by the British government,” he said.

    The MQM denies the charges, and insists it was the victim and not the perpetrator of May 12. The party says 13 of its own activists were among the dead, and last week it produced a video from May 12 showing apparent supporters of the rival Pakistan People’s party firing their guns in the air. “This is a conspiracy against us. Our decision to hold a rally on May 12 may be open to criticism, but we were not involved in armed attacks,” said Dr Farooq Sattar, head of the party in Pakistan.

    But Mr Hussain has little to say. At the MQM’s “International Secretariat” on Edgware High Street – a red brick office block opposite a supermarket – a party official said the leader was not available for comment. But he was happy to show the Guardian around the offices, which he confirmed was Mr Hussain’s London headquarters, and he vowed to repel any court action by Mr Khan.

    The fight is getting personal. Back in Karachi graffiti slurs against Imran Khan appeared on walls and the MQM-dominated local government has banned him from the city for one month.

    The MQM was founded in 1984 by Mr Hussain, a former Chicago cab driver, and won broad support among the “mohajirs” – Muslims who fled India after partition in 1947. The party prided itself on its well-oiled machine and its secular, liberal outlook. But it was also linked to extortion, gun smuggling and South African crime networks, according to a senior police officer speaking on condition of anonymity. “That’s what happens when a political party is run like the mafia,” he said.

    Local reporters have a rich store of-tales from the 1990s. One said she found a severed hand as a warning in her front garden, another was kidnapped from his home.

    But since it entered a coalition government with President Pervez Musharraf in 2002, the party has projected a different image based on secularism, economic development and support for the “war on terror”. Moderates such as the Karachi mayor, Mustafa Kamal, boast of new roads, sewage systems and billions of pounds in fresh investment. “MQM believes in every sect and religion. We are against extremism. We were the first people on the streets after 9/11,” he said.

    But since May 12 the party’s aspirations of becoming a national force lie in shreds, and there are worrying echoes of past tactics. On Tuesday, three Karachi journalists with foreign news agencies found unmarked envelopes containing a single bullet on their car windscreens. Two of them had earlier been denounced as “anti-mohajir” by the MQM-linked Muhajir Rabita Council.

    Will Mr Hussain ever come home? At Nine Zero, where beefy young men with baseball caps stand guard, there is little sign. “We do not want him to come back to Karachi; it is too dangerous here,” said parliamentarian Faisal Subzwari.

    But there is always hope. A few doors down Mr Hussain’s deserted terraced house is waiting, protected by blastproof metal shutters. For now, though, it has just one occupant – a 24-hour telephone operator.


  7. The MQM leader alleged that Pakistani rulers were busy in shopping abroad instead of presenting Pakistan’s case,Monday, 23 Aug 2010 Altaf slams ‘corrupt politicians shopping abroad’
    Running Pakistan’s biggest city – from London By Alastair Lawson
    BBC News, London Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6658231.stm

    At first sight it may appear that there is not much to link a nondescript office block in the heart of north London suburbia with the leadership of one of Pakistan’s most influential political parties.

    But it is from the somewhat drab streets of the London Borough of Barnet that hundreds of thousands of people in the country’s largest city, Karachi, receive their orders.

    The “International Secretariat” of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) is based in the suburb of Edgware, and from the first floor of a grey tower block their leader, Altaf Hussain, addresses huge audiences in the southern port city.

    Mr Hussain says he lives in London because he fears he would be assassinated if he went back to Pakistan.

    The party mostly comprises – and is supported by – the families of Muslim Urdu-speaking people known as Mohajirs who migrated to Pakistan from India around the time of partition.

    Gun battles

    Mr Hussain speaks to his supporters by a conference telephone connected to loud speakers strategically located across Karachi.

    At least 41 people died in street battles over the weekend
    Thousands of people down tools to listen to his regular addresses from London, even though he has not been back to the country since 1992 – and some of his “sermons” have been known to last longer than four hours.

    The MQM’s presence in Britain has become more controversial of late because of weekend violence in Karachi in which at least 40 people were killed.

    Opposition parties say that much of the violence was orchestrated by the MQM’s leadership in London. They allege that the party called its supporters out onto the streets to defend President Musharraf’s decision to suspend the country’s Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

    The MQM – which is allied to President Musharraf’s supporters in the Pakistani parliament – is alleged to have mobilised a large body of supporters to prevent the chief justice from leaving the airport when he visited Karachi on Saturday.

    In the worst violence, supporters of the party clashed with activists from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in gun battles that lasted longer than an hour.

    We are the last bastion against the Talebanisation of the country
    MQM senior co-ordinator M Anwar
    MQM members are alleged to have shot at opposition protesters holding a march in support of the dismissed chief justice, killing at least five people.

    “I can absolutely deny that our supporters were involved in any of the violence,” says the party’s London-based senior co-ordinator, M Anwar.

    “We were the only party in the city that had permission from the authorities to hold a rally in the city on Saturday, so why would we shoot out own supporters?”

    Extortion and gangsterism

    He says that the killings are the fault of the PPP, the Awami National Party and an alliance of Islamic parties who “wanted to politicise the issue of the chief justice’s suspension”.

    “It is the death squads of these parties who were responsible for the carnage, and nothing to do with MQM,” he said.

    Mr Hussain addresses thousands from London
    Mr Anwar says that the MQM – which has 42 seats in the 168-member Sindh assembly and 19 members in the 342-member Pakistani National Assembly – is one of the few parties in Pakistan that believes in the rule of law and multiparty democracy.

    “We are the last bastion against the Talebanisation of the country,” he says.

    Mr Anwar says that, even though Altaf Hussain has not been back to Pakistan for more than a decade, support for the MQM is growing – both in Sindh, where it is the main constituent of the governing coalition – and elsewhere in the country.

    “We are not just supported by Mohajirs, but also have the backing of Punjabis, Sindhis, Balochs and Kashmiris,” he says.

    “Recently we have gained support in the province of Punjab and have even made in-roads in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.”

    The MQM denies its reputation for extortion and gangsterism in Karachi, and insists its main priority is to protect vulnerable people in the city and the rest of Sindh.


    Mr Anwar says that the MQM’s support for President Musharraf – a Mohajir – is not unconditional and that he must soon make a decision as to whether he can remain head of the army as well as president.

    The office in London is largely staffed by volunteers
    The party says that the president’s efforts to remove the chief justice should be determined only by the Supreme Court.

    On the subject of when – if ever – Mr Hussain will return to Pakistan and directly lead his growing band of supporters, Mr Anwar was more cagey.

    “Altaf Hussain has frequently been warned by the security forces that if he goes back to Pakistan he will be targeted by mad mullahs and those who support jihad.

    “If the president and the prime minister of Pakistan – both recently the subjects of assassination attempts – cannot be adequately protected, I’m not sure it would be sensible for him to go back.

    “Anyway, in these days of high-tech communication why not govern Karachi from London? It’s a new form of outsourcing.”

  8. Jang Group & Veracity of Transparency International & IRI Survey.
    http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2010/11/jang-group-veracity-of-transparency.html Mob of Kamran Khan i.e. Mr. Ansar Abbasi, Mr Shaheen Sehbai, Mr. Irfan Siddiqui and Mohammad Malick are usually very fond of the reports of Transparency International and Survey of International Republican Institute (IRI) particularly when they carry “Corruption Reports on Pakistan. Quite funny isn’t it that the same group often raise hell against US Central Intelligence, Mossad and countless others and these very journalists “conveniently” forget that such surveys/reports could be a brainchild of the Organizations on the payrolls of the same US Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad. One of the Professional Colleague Mubashir Luqman openly said Transparency International an Israeli/CIA Agent:)

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