Ansar Abbasi's Bizarre Performance on Dunya Today

Dec 9th, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized

Ansar Abbasi on Dunya TodayAnsar Abbasi appeared on yesterday’s episode of Dunya Today to discuss Wikileaks. What could have been an informative and productive discussion of an important event in both national and foreign policy turned into something of a circus, though, as Ansar Abbasi began reciting conspiracy theories instead of actual facts. And from there, his performance only got more bizarre. But where this episode was unfortunately not as informative as it could have been about the topic of Wikileaks, it was quite informative about the guest Ansar Abbasi.

About 5 seconds into the second video clip, Dr Moeed Pirzada asks Abbasi, “You said in our last program that Wikileaks is a conspiracy against Pakistan and the Muslims of the world.” Ansar Abbasi replies, “I am still saying the same thing, the exact same thing.”

This claim that Wikileaks is a conspiracy against Pakistan and Muslim countries is being passed around the media by the usual cabal of factless conspiracy theorists. It should be noted also that this line is being spread mostly Urdu media, not English-language, though it was published by The Nation last week also. Like most conspiracy theories, it seems that people believe that it is sufficient evidence to keep saying it.

Pressed by Mosharraf Zaidi to explain how this is a conspiracy, Abbasi simply says that “they use people, not just journalists; they use entire governments for their conspiracies.” Again, he makes this claim by simply stating it, presenting no actual evidence or proofs to back up his claim.

To his credit, Mosharraf Zaidi presents an important counter weight of reasonableness to Ansar Abbasi, terming it a “poison that we have in our nation that we look at everything as a conspiracy theory.” Zaidi goes on to explain:

All I am saying is that we don’t need to start scratching on every surface just to say there is a conspiracy brewing. There are so many other things that have come up here which can promote freedom, democracy and the truth. We should concentrate on those things instead of painting everything as a conspiracy theory so that we don’t ignore the guilty (as well as the innocent) involved here.

Mr Zaidi’s statement should be printed and hung on the wall of every Editor’s office in the country. Editing in journalism is about more than looking for minor grammatical or spelling mistakes. It is supposed to be about ensuring that the media is providing what The New York Times famously calls, “all the news that’s fit to print”. The operative word here being “fit” not “all”.

But I want to mention something else that may have been overlooked by casual viewers. A few minutes after Zaidi states his comments about how conspiracy theories are a distraction from real problems, the conversation took a turn for the bizarre as Abbasi began rambling about religion, saying:

Allah says the enemies of Islam do a lot of planning but Allah is the biggest planner of all. Americans can think of plan whatever My Allah has a plan for them.

This was so bizarre that even Dr Pirzada asked what he is talking about. However, I was immediately reminded of Ansar Abbasi’s recent fatwa against Fashion Week (again published in the Urdu-language Jang as if to perhaps hide it from his English-language audience) in which Mullah Abbasi wrote:

But the real sadness is over how, despite the clear instructions of Allah and His Prophet (PBUH), and despite the promise of the Constitution of Pakistan that an environment based on religious values and Islamic teachings will be created in Pakistan so that Muslims can live their lives according to the Quran and Sunnah, there is no one to stop those making fun of Islamic values. I don’t know who allowed such a fashion show to be held. This trend of fashion shows and catwalks began in Pakistan a few years ago and because of a lack of any controls, has gone, as in the West and India, towards obscenity.

Ansar Abbasi is clearly speaking to a particular audience here. He is repeating conspiracy theories about Wikileaks being an anti-Muslim plot without providing any proofs or facts to support his claim. He is making religious judgments about punishments for acts that he determines to be un-Islamic. This is all fine for Ansar Abbasi the Mullah or Ansar Abbasi the entertainer – but Ansar Abbasi is supposed to be Investigative Editor for one of the largest news organizations in the country. Ansar Abbasi can believe whatever he wants, but it does not make it news just because Ansar Abbasi thinks it.

Ahsan Butt writes an excellent question about the exchange on his blog Five Rupees:

The thing is, I completely agree with being reasonable and tolerant of other people’s opinions, and I am pretty tolerant for the most part — being at grad school sort of forces this upon you, even if you are not personally inclined that way. However, there is a big difference between respecting other people’s opinions (which I think I do) and respecting other people’s facts (which I do not and will not).

Mosharraf Zaidi and Ahsan Butt are correct. Each person is entitled to his own opinions. Nobody is entitled to his own facts. Ansar Abbasi is supposed to be an investigative journalist. He is supposed to ‘investigate’ – to find facts and report them. Perhaps he thinks he can hide from the rest of the world by behaving this way behind a veil of Urdu, but the world is not so divided as he might like to think. By spreading unfounded conspiracy theories and playing on the religious sentiments of the people, Ansar Abbasi is doing a disservice to his readers, his reputation, and his profession.

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  1. Pakistani media publish fake WikiLeaks cables attacking India
    Comments alleged to be from WikiLeaks US embassy cables say Indian generals are genocidal and New Delhi backs militants http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/09/pakistani-newspaper-fake-leaks-india

  2. FAKE REPORT PUBLISHED IN JANG: Enough evidence of Indian involvement in Balochistan, Waziristan Thursday, December 09, 2010
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=2549&Cat=13

  3. After the WikiLeaks deluge By Ansar Abbasi Thursday, December 02, 2010 http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=2415&Cat=13&dt=12/8/2010

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan stands insecure as our leadership, both political and military, ruling the country have been exposed by no one else but Washington, to whom our leadership is shown by WikiLeaks to have sold their souls at the cost of national integrity, honour and prestige.

    Is our fate in safe hands? This is the fundamental questionthat boggles almost every mind in Pakistan as the WikiLeaks bombshell, believed to be deliberately leaked by Washington to attain its designs including chaos in Pakistan, leaves hardly anyone among the leaders here to be trusted.

    Each and every word of WikiLeaks would be taken as true if Pakistani authorities and leaders, blamed and shamed by these leaks, do not come out with a clear answer. They need to reply, more importantly through their actions, that Pakistan is no more American domain.

    Otherwise, WikiLeaks precisely proves what was earlier said i.e. Pakistan has been practically reduced from a sovereign state to an American colony as the president, prime minister, top political leaders and even Army chief all have been shown pleasing or taking into confidence the US ambassador — the de facto viceroy of Pakistan — to continue ruling the roost with the blessings of Washington.

    DG ISI Lt Gen Pasha too crossed the limits of discipline as he is shown by the WikiLeaks to have told US officials that President Asif Ali Zardari was corrupt. The question here arises why did he report such purely internal matter to the Americans.

    The only exception has been Imran Khan, the man who on the face of Americans has been criticising US policies, drone attacks, the so-called war on terror besides asking for negotiated settlement with Taliban to end extremism and refusing to dance to the tunes of the “real masters” of this unfortunate country.

    Shame is too little a word to reflect on the portrayed conduct of those ruling Pakistan after one goes through the WikiLeaks, which is expected to heap more dirt on Pakistan as well as the Muslim nations.

    What would be more shameful than reading President Asif Ali Zardari as conceding to the Americans, “We are here because of you,” and then assuring Washington, “We won’t act without consulting with you.” To the pleasure of his masters, Zardari committed Pakistan to the war on terror, insisting that it was Pakistan’s own war.

    Asfandyar Wali too shares the shame by inviting Washington to influence both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari through Jeddah and Dubai to mend fences. Why did he invite three foreign countries in matters purely pertaining to internal politics?

    Look at the callousness of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who on the issue of drone attacks told Washington, “I don’t care if they (US) do it (carry out drone attacks) as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.” The premier had snubbed the interior minister Rehman Malik, who had suggested to the Americans that the Predator attacks should be stopped after the Bajaur operation.

    Look at the double speak of the PML-N, whose top leadership both Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan were shown repeatedly assuring the Americans that the PML-N was pro-America. To leave no doubt about his loyalty to the Americans, Nawaz recounted his decision to override his Chief of Army Staff and deploy Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia in support of the US coalition in the first Gulf War. Here Chaudhry Nisar Khan reminded that it was the PPP and its leaders who were organising street demonstrations against Pakistan joining with the US coalition.

    Exposing the hypocrisy of the already stinking Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the WikiLeaks revealed that the leader of the country’s most fiercely pro-Taliban religious party, hosted a jovial dinner for Ms Patterson at which the Maulana sought her backing to become the prime minister and expressed a desire to visit America. His lieutenant Abdul Ghafoor Haideri acknowledged that “All important parties in Pakistan had to get the approval of the US (to get power).” Just compare the actions of these Maulanas to what they preach in their speeches. Simply disgraceful!

    Interior minister Rehman Malik is referred to as a frequent and co-operative interlocutor, who professes his support for cooperation with the United States.

    No less shocking is the way the Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has been opening his heart and mind before the Americans, including the US ambassador. Otherwise giving the impression of being a man of few words, the Army chief spoke before the Americans against President Zardari and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, and also talked of getting resignation from the president and tailoring democracy to his sweet choice.

    He also hinted at supporting Asfandyar Wali Khan, the leader of the Awami National Party, as the new president. Kayani even made it clear to Ms Patterson, the former US ambassador, that regardless of how much he disliked Zardari, he distrusted Nawaz even more.

    Such hobnobbing of the military chief with any foreign diplomat or official, what to talk of Americans, is undoubtedly a violation of discipline and breach of his oath. Unluckily, we have a tainted president, tainted prime minister and tainted political leaders otherwise this is a fit case of seeking explanation from the Army chief.

    With such leadership, both political and military, Pakistan’s future is really bleak. Whom should we trust? Who is free from the US influence? Can we become a sovereign nation? Can we take our own decisions? Why do we have more faith in Washington than in God? How could we save Pakistan from being destabilised after reading what our president, prime minister, political leaders and Army chief have said to a minnow American — Anne Patterson? With such leadership, how can we tackle the problem of terrorism? Who would save us from disgrace and shame?

    One hardly has any answer to the above questions. Our irony is that our leaders are leading us to shame like never before. What option do they have to undo what they have brought for this country and its people? Resignations and stepping down from their respective public and political offices is one option. Another option is to say a firm no to the American drone attacks, cut the Nato supply line, revisit our policy on US’s so-called war on terror, halt all military operations inside Pakistan, open up dialogue with the local Taliban leaders to bring to an end terrorism and desist from dancing to the tunes of Americans.

    Otherwise these leaks, containing truths and half-truths all suiting Washington but embarrassing others, are bound to create more mistrust and chaos in the country, which is the actual design of those having leaked it from Washington.

  4. No further need for Ansaar Abbassi to investigate the news as he has completed his doctorate in investigation and his analysis is that there is always a conspiracy behind every news.

    He is paranoid and a sick man.

  5. Go east go west, Ansar Abbasi is the best

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