The Intransigent Talat Hussain

Dec 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Dawn News TV

Syed Talat HussainTalat Hussain, a man who has (or should I say had) a reputation for being at least bearable among the insufferable lot of TV anchors, has done it again. The anchor, on his struggling-for-rating program “News Night with Talat” recently attacked Husain Haqqani, ambassador of Pakistan to US questioning the ambassador’s loyalty and motives.

He took a couple of Haqqanis quotations out of context from Bob Woodward’s book “Obamas Wars” and directly attacked Haqqani saying that these types of comments should make us reconsider the type of people representing us. Talat Hussain has picked up two things that Woodward has quoted the Ambassador as saying in the context of Pakistan and US relations; one where the Ambassador talks about “carpet merchants” and the other where the Ambassador talks about the need to “woo a woman” and importance of giving an engagement ring.

The first quote which Talat talks about out of context as directly taken from Woodward’s book, is as follows:

He [Haqqani] also warned that the Pakistanis would always ask for the moon as a starting point in negotiations. He compared it to the salesmanship of rug merchants. “The guy starts at 10,000 and you settle for 1,200” Haqqani told the Obama team. “So be reasonable, but never let the guy walk out of the shop without a sale.”

It is important to mention here that ambassador Haqqani was talking about how people and nations negotiate. Each side always starts with a long list of issues and then as you keep discussing and negotiating you come down to the bare essentials. And what is important, as the Ambassador emphasizes, is that you need to know what it is that you want. One also needs to make sure that you never let the negotiations break down so much that you have to let go of the one or two absolutely essential items that you need out of the negotiation.

If you’ve ever been on the streets of Saddar where rug merchants are trying to sell their merchandise, you can see that they start their sales pitch from an outrageous price and come down to a much more reasonable one. That is what the norm traditionally is for selling rugs. It is a noble and respectable profession that helps people provide for food and shelter. Talat Hussain was not only taking Haqqani’s words out of context here but was also belittling rug merchants by implying that selling rugs was beneath any respectable individual and that using such an example is shameful.

The second quotation that Mr. Talat Hussain talks about clearly out of context, from Woodward’s book where the ambassador talks about “wooing a woman” is:

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, a key go-between, tried several times to explain to the Obama administration how to court Pakistani leaders, comparing the dynamic to “a man who is trying to woo a woman.” “We all know what he wants from her. Right?” Haqqani said in a meeting with Jones, Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and the NSC’s Gen. Doug Lute. “But she has other ideas. She wants to be taken to the theater. She wants that nice new bottle of perfume,” Haqqani told them. “If you get down on one knee and give the ring, that’s the big prize. And boy, you know, it works.” Haqqani said the “ring” was official U.S. recognition of Pakistan’s nuclear program as legitimate.

It’s actually quite clear that the ambassador was explaining Pakistan’s complaint against US and using an example Americans can understand. Did you notice how Talat partially explained the ambassador’s statement and left out the part about presenting of the “ring” to the woman being wooed and the part where Husain Haqqani says that the ring represents America’s public acceptance of Pakistan’s nuclear status? The ambassador was defending Pakistan’s nuclear program and trying to help Americans understand how important it is for Pakistan’s security and existence and that Americans need to accept it and learn to live with it. Listening to Talat Hussain, though, a viewer would come away with a different impression than the truth.

Talat Hussain conveniently pulled out the complete opposite meaning of what the ambassador was trying to say and started implying that Pakistan is a woman and US is a man, bringing forth his sexist nature, trying to rev up his listeners emotions without real reason.

On Hillary Clinton’s latest visit to Pakistan, our ill-informed anchor who was working for Aaj TV at the time, wanted to embarrass Hillary by proving that she was wrong and U.S did not give Pakistan enough money compared to Kyrgyzstan. He kept insisting that U.S. was paying Kyrgyzstan $640 million as rent for a military base in that country. Hillary corrected the self-righteous anchor but Talat Hussain insisted he was correct. Hillary Clinton remained polite and did not pursue the whole debate further but as it turns out, Talat was incorrect and had little regard for facts.

It is also important to point out that not too long ago Talat Hussain in his column in the Urdu daily Express News targeted the famous Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie in his shameful effort to attack the present civilian government of Pakistan. He caused an uproar among most of those people who read it not because of the just the message he was trying to get across, but in how he viciously maligned Angelina Jolie’s character to build his case. His article was condemned by majority of his readers and what he actually ended up doing was show to the public his own bigotry, his sexist attitude and his own racism (he actually called Jolie’s children as “rang barangay yateem bachay” or multi-colored orphan kids). He also showed how some hypocrites in the media write in one style for the Urdu-reading public and maintain quite a different persona for the English readership.

Playing the Machismo card to rouse the emotions of viewers is the strategy of drama serials, not series news programmes. And playing fast and loose with the statements of government officials is a style of ‘hit-and-run journalism’ that may score a short-term boost in ratings but does long-term damage to national security by giving other nations the impression that we do not even respect our own representatives so why should they. All of this together suggests a disturbing trend in Talat Hussain’s reporting – a willingness to sacrifice the truth for some cheap ratings.

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  1. Dear Moderator,

    Kindly upload this clip of Syed Talat Hussain whose “very rare footage” has been captured wherein he was declaring on 12 Oct 1999 that “General Pervez Musharraf” didn’t know about the Military Coup [last part of the footage] Off The Record By Kasif Abbasi [2 Dec 2010]

  2. Compare this interview with above lecture 🙂 How Soft Syed Talat Hussain was on a “Military Dictator” President Musharraf interview with Talat –

  3. Rare Clips – “LIE” with Syed Talat Hussain on DAWN NEWS.

  4. Talat Hussain Personal Life

  5. amer mughal ,u must be a tally.who gives u huddi to bark on sir talat hussain ? hmmm duffer,stop snipping. ppl cant trust ur childish words.stupid!!

  6. @amir u dont have anything else to do other than trying to defame talat . go get a life dude

  7. Thank you for the informative read. Much needed perspective well provided in this article.

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