First US Controls the Weather, Now Time Travel AlsoJan 24th, 2011 | By admin | Category: Jang, The News
An article by Azim Mian published in both Jang and The News claims that President Zardari has engaged in a conspiracy against the media by convincing members of the US Congress to write a letter to Hillary Clinton requesting that visas not be granted to “media men not condemning the killing of Salman Taseer”. Judging by the evidence, though, the conspiracy appears once again to be Azim Mian’s and not Asif Zardari’s.
You will recall that this reporter Azim Mian has a chequered history of ridiculous smears leveled against the president including an article of June 2010 that tried to claim a ‘well-known’ website listed Asif Zardari as a US Citizen. The website turned out to be neither well known nor authoritative, and even so by the time Azim’s article was published it did not list Asif Zardari as US citizen.
Azim Mian also reported in June that Hussain Haroon would resign his post as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations before August 2010 due to “palace intrigues and impediments in his work”. It is now over seven months since the article and five months since Azim’s prediction has proven false despite the claims of his ‘sources’. These are only two examples of the reporter’s ridiculous claims and failed predictions.
So Azim Mian has a history of making ridiculous anti-Zardari claims in apparent attempts to embarrass the government without having good facts to back up his claims. But this latest conspiracy theory is even more foolish than his past articles.
According to Dawn, the letter sent to Hillary Clinton actually requests the State Department to “identify those Pakistani citizens that have shown demonstrable support of the assassination of Governor Taseer”.
“Some of the most prominent clerics, journalists and lawyers who have praised Mr Taseer`s death and have demonstrated support of his murderer, are people who frequently travel to the US and hold American visas.”
Obviously, this request is not aimed at “media men not condemning the killing of Salman Taseer” as Azim Mian incorrectly states. This is his first error, and probably the smallest one though it is important to note as Azim’s article could lead readers to incorrectly believe that the US is pressurizing journalists to make a statement against the murder of Salmaan Taseer which is not stated by the letter.
Azim Mian then goes on to claim that “…indications are there that the US State Department had prepared a list of journalists and others on whom entry in the US may be denied by cancelling or denying visas”. The only “list” that has been published according to our research was a group of names published by Daily Times on 20 January. But this list is unsourced except to anonymous “sources in Washington” and carries a dateline of Lahore, as Azim Mian admits in his report. Furthermore, Azim claims to have spoken with a source at the US State Department who indicated that no list of Pakistani journalists had been prepared.
If Azim Mian was simply questioning the validity of the list published by Daily Times, he might have a point – it seems suspicious. But Azim did not stop there. Instead, he added to his growing portfolio of baseless speculation and misinformation.
According to Azim, the letter to Hillary Clinton is part of a conspiracy by the president against media freedoms. Azim claims that when Zardari went to Washington to attend the funeral of Richard Holbrooke and met with US officials, he spent his time referring negatively about Pakistan’s media and specifically Jang Group. Azim claims that:
It was in this scenario that the aides of the Zardari-Gilani government taking notice of the sentiments, perceptions and also complaints of their boss lobbied with the anti-Pakistan congressmen and made them to write a letter to Secretary Clinton.
Please recall that this is the same visit termed ‘mysterious’ by Jang Group because the president did not take a large government contingency along with him. If this trip was so mysterious, one might ask, how does Azim Mian know what Zardari said in these private meetings? What is the evidence to support this conspiracy theory? Actually, there is none.
In fact the only basis for Azim Mian’s conspiracy is his claim that “informed circles are of the opinion…” This is not fact by his own admission, but merely the opinion of some people who do not even want their names associated with it. It seems Azim Mian’s anonymous sources are as trustworthy as his colleague Ansar Abbasi‘s.
This brings us to the final point, the one that does away with this foolishness for good. It turns out the error of Azim Mian is quite obvious and an easy one to prove. In fact it is telling that the reporter and his editor gave so little thought to this story that they could not realize it before they published it in two newspapers. You see, President Zardari met with US officials on 14 January during which time they discussed pressing issues, according to reports from both The White House and Ambassador Husain Haqqani who was present for the meetings.
How do we know these meetings didn’t include discussions of Jang Group followed by lobbying US Congressmen for a letter to be sent to Hillary Clinton? The letter to Hillary Clinton was written on 13 January 2011 – the day BEFORE the meetings.
According to The News Zardari was driving from New York to Washington during this time because he is afraid of heights – a ridiculous assertion, but one that shows just how desperate some people are to smear Zardari at any cost. Actually it was reported by APP that Zardari did not arrive in Washington until Thursday evening. Furthermore, if the letter is dated 13 January, it means that the Congressmen would have had to begun coordinating even before that date. Not only was Zardari not in Washington before the 13th, he was not even in the US.
If Azim Mian’s conspiracy theory could be true it would require that Asif Zardari complained about the media in his meetings with US officials on 14 January, and then some unnamed “aides of the Zardari-Gilani government” lobbied these four US Congressmen and convinced them to travel back in time to write a letter to Hillary Clinton. It simply defies all reason.
Tension between the media and the government has been present since day one. Jang Group in particular has been a loud voice accusing the government and President Zardari specifically of wanting to curb media freedoms, but certainly not the only one. And yet it is now three years into the government’s term and still these voices continue to make such accusations freely. If President Zardari intends to curb media freedom, he is doing quite a poor job of it. And I understand that some of our esteemed colleagues in the media believe that the US has a machine that controls the world’s weather, but now we are asked believe that they can travel through time also?
The government has a responsibility to be honest and forthcoming with the people and not to attempt to curb the media’s ability to inform the people. But the media has a responsibility to be honest and forthcoming with the people and not spread baseless accusations and ridiculous conspiracy theories also. Three years into the government’s term and the media is still free – how long until the media will accept their own responsibilities and stop wasting everyone’s time with such nonsense?