Journalism…Or Jingoism?

Oct 13th, 2010 | By | Category: Express Tribune, Samaa TV

Fasi ZakaFasi Zaka has a new installment in what appears to be a series on the treatment of Dr. Aafia by news media. If you will recall, Fasi made a startling claim a week ago that TV anchors were deliberately misreporting the Dr. Aafia case. This week, he continues his expose by analyzing several shows and asking an excellent question: “Is this journalism or jingoism?

Dr Aafia has been hijacked, and not just by the Americans, who had her flown to the US and gave her a dubiously excessive punishment for attempted murder, but by the Pakistani media itself.

Just recently Meher Bokhari conducted a TV programme on Samaa on Dr Aafia Siddiqui, and it was an atrocious attack on the idea of responsible, or even mildly responsible journalism. She opened her piece on the programme with an emotional plea about the “daughter of the nation” and how “time” would ask Musharraf about his actions. Is this journalism or jingoism?

If she had attached sideburns and worn flare pants she would be a shoo-in for deceased actor Mohammad Ali with a shout of “judge sahib!” inevitably coming our way. Guests on her programme were Dr Aafia’s sister, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, Senator Talha of the JUI and senior ‘analyst’ Zaid Hamid.

Zaid Hamid immediately went off on an amazing tale of why the Americans were after Dr Aafia. He explained that she was a neurologist who had biological weapons’ knowledge that the Americans were afraid of, and that her Indian MIT students were complicit in the frame-up and even went to question her in jail in Afghanistan. I like fiction, but this is too much. Dr Aafia’s two children are in the custody of her family, with one missing, but in the programme the killing of two children was being stated as fact.

To this hogwash Meher Bokhari said nothing, and it looked like she was ready to let things slide until Dr Aafia’s sister said that her sister has a PhD in education, specifically on learning by imitation. Senator Talha then, despite having just heard this, and having been on jaunts to the US on government money to see Dr Aafia in person, said Dr Aafia’s PhD was on lining up “discarded” children.

Again, Meher Bokhari had no interest in correcting anything or playing a responsible role. On a CNBC programme I was on, I mentioned this to Senator Talha when he repeated the same tripe (this was after the Samaa programme), after which a shouting match began where the guests were only interested in haranguing Marvi Memon, who was also present.

In all this, the only voice of sanity was Dr Fauzia. But no one was interested in her because it spoilt everyone else’s agenda. Meher Bokhari kept asking the rhetorical question, “What did Aafia do that cannot be forgiven?” clearly ignoring the issues prior to 2003 when Dr Aafia was on the radar for association with al Qaeda. The UN report never came up.

Zaid wants to use Dr Aafia for cutting off ties with the Americans, Senator Talha for cheap political mileage and Meher Bokhari for playing to the gallery. Dr Fauzia also presented a hypothetically logical reason for why the Americans have done what they have to Dr Aafia. But again, that was of no interest to Meher Bokhari and Co. Why bring logic into the equation? Frankly this particular programme of Meher Bokhari made Fox look good in comparison.

And now, the MQM – for ages not a word about the Aafia case until the Imran Farooq murder. Two pieces of information inconclusively suggested the murder may have been an intra-party affair, the first being a report in The Guardian and the second a vague statement by Scotland Yard. This was followed by a flurry of activity by the MQM for Dr Aafia.

Quite possibly the motive, entirely circumstantial at this stage, is to put the party on an anti-western front, especially with regard to their system of justice. And should things turn ugly in London, the championing of Dr Aafia’s ‘cause’ will serve as the pretext for pursuit of a criminal case – in a western court of law – against the party. After holding a rally for Dr Aafia, Dr Fauzia wryly remarked that it would have been better had it been held years earlier.

To get Dr Aafia back and to help commute her sentence will only be done by a more rational approach. That, however is unlikely to happen given the ways of the Aafia mafia.

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  1. PML-N: Nawaz Sharif exposed Watch Documentaries on Nawaz Sharif’s links with Extremist Elements – Alas! our Mullahs Politicans have always been hypocrites. The paper on Jamat-e-Islami Website was written by Former Senator Khursheed Ahmed – JI against Nawaz Sharif. What kind of National Conference is this wherein a Party [Jamat-e-Islami] is supporting a Leaders [Nawaz Sharif – PML-N] against whom they carry very negative remarks on their very own website. May Allah help Restore the Judiciary Movement when the Movement have supporters like Jamat-e-Islami. Prof. Khurshid Ahmad of JI in his paper had basically attacked on Nawaz Sharif’s Integrity with the Country: Chagatai Khan: National Conference, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Jamat-e-Islami – 1 http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/03/national-conference-qazi-hussain-ahmed.html
    m/2009/03/national-conference-qazi-hussain-ahmed_04.html

  2. Watch Documentaries on Nawaz Sharif’s links with Extremist Elements – Which Statement of Qazi Hussain Ahmed [Jamat-e-Islami Chief] for Nawaz Sharif is to be taken seriously the one which he gave while participating in The National Conference for the Restoration of Judiciary [1] or shall we believe these statment of Qazi Hussain Ahmed on Nawaz Sharif, Chagatai Khan: National Conference, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Jamat-e-Islami – 2
    http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2009/03/national-conference-qazi-hussain-ahmed_04.html

  3. Shamelessly Daily Jang has again misquoted the Washington Post and tells the half truth. After reading the Jang Thursday, October 14, 2010, Zi Qad 05, 1431 A.H http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/oct2010-daily/14-10-2010/u49248.htm , read the complete story from Washington Post on Pakistani Judiciary and post has committed “Contempt of Court”

  4. “QUOTE”

    Pakistan’s emboldened judiciary threatens government stability By Karin Brulliard Washington Post Foreign Service Wednesday, October 13, 2010
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/12/AR2010101205922.html

    ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – After this country’s then-military dictator deposed the Supreme Court chief justice in 2007, a boisterous movement of protesting lawyers took to the streets and ushered in the return of democracy. Now that same court may be poised to bring about a premature end to Pakistan’s elected government.

    Since its December judgment striking down an amnesty that shielded President Asif Ali Zardari and other officials from old criminal allegations, the top court has pressed the government on corruption, in particular a dated money-laundering case against Zardari. The stakes have risen as repeated government delays have stoked frustration within the army and the political opposition. Another showdown is scheduled for Wednesday, when the court could hold the prime minister in contempt or indicate that it will reconsider Zardari’s presidential immunity from prosecution.

    The standoff has cemented the Supreme Court’s position as a central player in Pakistan’s nascent democracy. But it has also highlighted questions about the solidity of that system.

    To many here, the drama represents progress: In a nation with a history of military coups, an independent judiciary has emerged as the major threat to the unpopular government. To others, including some government critics and lawyers’ movement stalwarts, the court and its chief justice are on a warpath against Zardari that threatens a fragile democracy that needs an elected government – even a bad one – to complete a term in office.

    “This judge and the court have embarked upon politics,” said lawyer Khurram Latif Khosa, whose father, also a lawyer, advises Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. “The lawyers who were chanting slogans in their favor are now burning effigies of their idols.”

    Pakistan’s stability is vital to the United States, which depends on this South Asian nation to support the war in Afghanistan and combat a vigorous Taliban insurgency on its own soil. U.S. officials express concern that the government’s foot-dragging is weakening its credibility and distracting it from urgent issues such as the fallout from recent flooding and a collapsing economy.

    Some analysts say the standoff is unlikely to imperil the democratic order. They call it just another act in the performance art of Pakistani politics, in which protagonists jockey for power while the masses await leadership that will improve their lives. The government insists that the cases against Zardari were politically motivated and that a hostile media are sensationalizing the court’s wrangling.

    From 2007 to 2009, scores of lawyers rallied for the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. He was removed by military dictator Pervez Musharraf but not restored by Zardari’s civilian government until several months into its administration.

    The lawyers’ movement dissolved after it achieved its goal, and the lower judiciary is still plagued by complaints about corruption, sluggishness and bias. But the Supreme Court has surfaced as one of Pakistan’s most respected institutions. After decades of deference to presidents, prime ministers and, especially, military rulers, it has doggedly pursued cases involving the Zardari government.

    “That the problems of governance were not highlighted in the past seems to suggest that the court is more aggressive on a democratic government than it was on an authoritarian government,” said Munir Malik, a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. “But that’s the way to move forward.”

    The court has also gained popularity by regularly taking up the grievances of ordinary citizens, often after Chaudhry has read about them in the newspaper. Small and thickly mustached, Chaudhry ranks in polls as one of the nation’s most esteemed figures.

    “He is the only person standing firm against the unlawful practices of the government,” said Ibrahim Rasheed, among a group of lawyers sipping tea recently at the Islamabad bar association office.

    On Monday, after rejecting a government plea to postpone Wednesday’s hearing, Chaudhry and his colleagues moved briskly through the morning docket. One case involved a man who said policies at the federal medical institute where he worked had unfairly blocked his promotion, while another dealt with “lady health workers” allegedly being paid less than minimum wage by a provincial health department.

    Later, the judges harangued the Islamabad police chief over a failure to arrest a suspect in the months-old slaying of a former attorney general – an “eminent man,” in the words of one justice, Khalil Ramday.

    Court detractors, who include Pakistan’s top human rights lawyer, point to the court’s cap on the price of sugar and the nullification of a carbon-tax law as crowd-pleasing but overreaching rulings.

    The court has not taken kindly to such grumbling. Last week, after a federal minister accused it of activism and interference, the court released a statement criticizing “unwarranted and uncalled for comments” on its judgments.

    Some legal experts say they are disturbed that the court rarely pursues matters involving non-ruling-party politicians or the military establishment. Under Musharraf, Chaudhry was a vocal advocate for cases involving suspects who disappeared, allegedly at the hands of Pakistan’s intelligence services. The cases have made little progress since last year.

    “The court can be faulted not for what it is doing, but for the omissions,” said Babar Sattar, a constitutional expert who supports the court’s efforts to pursue government corruption cases.

    The high court has focused on 13-year-old allegations that Zardari, the widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, stashed $60 million in kickbacks in Swiss bank accounts. Swiss authorities closed the case in 2008, after a 2007 Pakistani amnesty deal.

    When the Supreme Court nullified that amnesty, it instructed the government to write a letter informing the Swiss authorities about the development. A Swiss prosecutor has since noted publicly that Zardari has presidential immunity, and many Pakistani legal experts say the government could calm the judiciary by simply sending the letter.

    The government says it should not have to do so.

    Legal experts say that defiance could prompt the court to hold the prime minister or the law minister in contempt or trigger it to review the constitutionality of Zardari’s immunity. Either could threaten the Zardari administration, endangering the coalition it depends on to govern and – in an extreme scenario – spurring the military to seize control.

    Special correspondent Shaiq Hussain contributed to this report.

    “UNQUOTE”

  5. Breaking News: The News (Jang Group) removes its 19 January 2010 false story to escape legal action 16 October 2010 http://criticalppp.com/archives/26153

    Why? The reason is simple. The Supreme Court has ordered an inquiry to investigate those who created and disseminated the rumour; the court has asked Geo TV / Jang Group to produce their record as a part of that inquiry. By removing a culpable piece of evidence, Geo TV / Jang Group are trying to play smart. Ain’t they?
    However, we have been able to retrieve the removed story (which was reported by none other than the Ansar Abbasi / Muhammad Saleh Zaafir duo) from another website (which thankfully copy-pasted this report from The News):

  6. How Jang Group/GEO TV Played with Fire?
    http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-jang-groupgeo-tv-played-with-fire.html

  7. Standard of “The News International” and Infighting amongts Jang’s Reporters

    “QUOTE”

    “In conclusion, I regret that a newspaper of your standing and record sought fit to make the aforesaid scandalous allegations without even the courtesy of a phone call to consider the version of the person Mr Klasra so callously sought to defame.” Yours sincerely Fakhruddin G Ebrahim

    Karachi judge denies president’s defamatory allegations
    Saturday, October 02, 2010 Shawwal 22, 1431 A.H. By Ahmad Noorani http://www.thenews.com.pk/02-10-2010/Top-Story/1030.htm

    “UNQUOTE”

    “QUOTE”

    Neither Zardari misquoted nor ‘retired judge’ named
    By Rauf Klasra Sunday, October 03, 2010 Shawwal 23, 1431 A.H.

    Dr Abbasi said, “Mr Klasra, your story is 99.9 percent correct. This is what I had said in the meeting and this was the response of the president.” After Raja Pervez Ashraf, this is second case in which a person has volunteered to confirm something without being named or asked to. I simply followed the ethics of journalism by not quoting any judge’s name in my story as I will repeat not because I was afraid of someone. I did so simply because Mr Zardari did not name the unknown judge, who according to him had trapped and deceived him. Had he quoted anyone name, I might have used his name even in the start of my story and also took his version.

    “UNQUOTE”

  8. Brother of Aafia ‘chose’ her lawyers By Sami Abraham Saturday, November 06, 2010 Zi Qad 28, 1431 A.H. http://www.thenews.com.pk/06-11-2010/Top-Story/1873.htm WASHINGTON: Officials have questioned claims by Aafia Siddiqui’s sister that her legal defence was mounted without the family’s support or approval. “Some people, including Aafia’s sister, are playing politics in her name and taking advantage of government’s policy of keeping quiet because of sympathy for Aafia on humanitarian grounds,” one official told this reporter.

  9. […] is not the first time that Meher Bokhari has stooped to jingoism. The timing of Tuesday’s programme must be noted as well as it aired just one day before a […]

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