The Nation’s Jihadi Propaganda

Feb 17th, 2011 | By | Category: The Nation

The Nation has long held onto the Nazariya-e-Pakistan philosophy of the Zia years, Majid Nizami even going so far as to brag in his official biography that “General Zia-ul-Haq recommended him as a nominee to the Shura”. (It should be noted that Nizami incorrectly says that the Shura was the parliament, when in all actuality it was Zia’s hand-picked group of advisors.) But The Nation of 16 February was like a time capsule left over from the Zia era and shows that sections of the media remain more focused on ideology than news.

Gen. Zia ul HaqIn Wednesday’s newspaper, The Nation‘s Opinion page was dominated by a piece by the late Brigadier General S.K. Malik – a favourite of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq’s and the author of jihadi field manual, The Quranic Concept of War. Most Opinion articles are used to explain or analyse current events. The Brig (R) Malik piece published by The Nation, “Holy Prophet’s Defence Policy” was noticeable because it does not appear to address any specific current issue. But this piece of Zia-era propaganda did not appear in a vacuum. Rather it appeared on the same page as two editorials that were over-the-top in their bald face anti-India stance.

The first editorial about Law Minister Babar Awan’s statement against  the arrest of Rahat Fateh Ali goes beyond what the Law Minister said and claims that the arrest shows that India is “inimically opposed to the very existence of Pakistan and to Pakistanis”. Nawa-i-Waqt even takes a direct swipe at competitor media group Jang Group by saying, “those who propounded the Aman ki Asha had carried out Aman ki Nirasha”. This editorial quotes from Law Minister Babar Awan’s own statement to media on the subject from Monday, but it is expanded on his statement by even criticising Awan for not taking “the same position with the elements in government who are eager to engage in a dialogue with India”. The Nation uses the arrest of Fatah Ali Khan to request the government to cease talks with India until Kashmir is settled, even though these are unrelated issues.

This was followed by a second editorial that again refers to “New Delhi’s deadly machinations on our soil”. Most irresponsibly, The Nation even goes as far as threatening ‘nuclear clouds’ if India does not settle the Kashmir issue ‘as early as possible’.

The next page which claims the headline of ‘Analysis’ includes two pieces by General (Retd) Mirza Aslam Beg and S.M. Hali which are virulently anti-American and anti-British in their content by claiming that these Western countries are anti-Muslim in their policies. In the case of Gen (R) Beg’s column it also takes the tone of pro-Islamist sympathies and supporting Zia-era policies of propping up a puppet Islamist regime in Kabul as a policy of ‘strategic depth’.

Gen. Mirz Aslam BegNevertheless, the US and its allies are allergic to Islamists coming to power. For example, Hamas won the elections in Palestine, but was not allowed to form the government, and thus the Israelis are now facing the consequences. Similarly, the mujahideen in Afghanistan, who fought the war to expel the Soviets, were not allowed to form the government and were pushed into a contrived civil war. And now, as they emerge the winner, efforts are afoot to deny them their due share in power. This obsession, in fact, has been the cause of the American defeat in Afghanistan. They have lost the war in Afghanistan, but find it difficult to rationalise the defeat without hurting their ego and pride as a superpower.

Gen (R) Beg also praises “towering personality like Imam Khomeini of Iran” and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, but he ignores the fact that the people of Iran are rising up to protest the Islamic regime. Gen (R) Beg also praises Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood for the revolution that overthrew the dictator Honsi Mubarak, even though that was a revolution of the people, not Muslim Brotherhood and protesters there told journalists that “The Brothers have been effectively sidelined”.

Gp Capt (Retd) Air Force S.M. HaliThe article by S.M. Hali criticises UK PM David Cameron for speaking against Islamic militancy even though the British PM clearly stated that it is not Islam or the Ummah which is committing acts of terrorism but only a small group of extremists. S.M. Hali admits this point, but then says that Cameron’s proposal for “greater integration of Muslim minorities” into British culture. Hali accuses the PM for stirring ‘a hornets nest’, but is he not doing the same with a provocatively titled piece, ‘Cameron targets Muslim community’? It would be pertinent to note that S.M. Hali is the same ‘defence analyst’ who termed the cricket scandal a RAW conspiracy. Neither did The Nation inform readers that S.M. Hali is also a military man since he is Group Captain (Retd) of Pakistan Air Force.

Any one of these pieces by itself may not be worthy of notice, but taken together as the complete package of opinions and analysis by retired military in one issue of The Nation must raise eyebrows. It is a demonstration that far from being an ideology of the past, Zia’s manipulation of religious sentiments is being used again to hypnotize the masses. Obviously The Nation can take whatever position they choose on issues, but when a package of clear ideological indoctrination surfaces, it is proper to ask whether Nawa-i-Waqt is serving the cause of informing the people or promoting pro-jihadi ideologies left over from the Zia era.

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