How Propaganda Gets Into Foreign Media

Feb 22nd, 2011 | By | Category: Foreign Media, Jang, The News

Proper investigative journalism is severely lacking and this is effecting not only our own media but international reporting on Pakistan as well. As reporting on Pakistan becomes more and more dangerous for foreign journalists, often accused of being ‘spies’ by certain right-wing elements, the international press becomes reliant on our own journalists to feed them information. In turn, they are fed propaganda, not actual reporting, which is then added in their own reporting. Once this happens, Pakistani media refers to the international press as a way of legitimising their own inventions, even though it is their own words that have been repeated.

Declan WalshAn example of this problem was made clear in The News of yesterday. A front page article titled, ‘Raymond Davis was CIA spy: UK paper’, is actually a re-published article from the UK newspaper The Guardian. The article, by Declan Walsh and Ewen MacAskill, was originally published over the week end. The News re-published the article on Monday without changing a single word or giving proper attribution.

Ansar AbbasiThe article concludes with by citing ‘press reports’ about a rather peculiar speculation: “that the authorities worry the US could try to spring Davis in a “Hollywood-style sting”. If that phrase is not familiar to you, let me explain its origin. The threat of a ‘Hollywood-style sting operation’ is an invention of one Ansar Abbasi who works for The News. He introduced the phrase in an 11 February article titled, ‘Multiple security layers erected for Raymond Davis’, a piece that also threatens ‘some subversive act from India to get the double-murderer to embarrass Pakistan’. As always, the sources for Ansar Abbasi’s supposed conspiracies by American and Indian forces are unknown.

Ansar Abbasi may have invented from thin air these conspiracy theories, or they may have been fed to him by intelligence agencies. But the trick has worked because The Guardian has now repeated the claim on their respected pages, only attributing the claim to ‘press reports’ and not mentioning the name of Ansar Abbasi which would have alerted readers to the questionable origin of the claim. These conspiracies can now be repeated by our own media manipulators as reports of a preeminent UK newspaper, no need to mention their birthplace in the work of Ansar Abbasi.

Media reports on Raymond Davis are already filled with confusing and contradictory articles in Pakistan. Now our own propaganda has made its way into the international press. Whether this is by chance or by design is not known. What is known is that in a case as sensitive as Raymond Davis, the media has a responsibility to provide neutral reporting of facts and not to play the sensationalism card. That may be too much to ask of certain quarters in our own media, but we hope that the international press will not be so easily manipulated.

Unfortunately, as foreign journalists are threatened and labeled as ‘spies’ by certain elements that do not want the truth to come out, these foreign journalists rely on Pakistani journalists to provide them with research and analysis. When that research and analysis is filled with planted conspiracies and misinformation, it only serves to hide the truth. We pride ourselves on our free media, but can the media be truly free when it is so easily and so often manipulated for political ends?

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  1. The same “Guardian” also says this about Jang Group and most amazing is that Correspondent is Declan Walsh:)

    Same Guardian on JANG GROUP/GEO TV/THE NEWS INTERNATIONAL’S SECTARIANISM: Ahmadi massacre silence is dispiriting – The virtual conspiracy of silence after the murder of 94 Ahmadis in Pakistan exposes the oppression suffered by the sect Declan Walsh, Monday 7 June 2010 14.59 BST

    Candles were lit by members of a civil society for victims of the attack on the Ahmadiyya sect in Lahore. Photograph: KM Chaudary/AP – I often find myself defending Pakistan against the unbidden prejudices of the outside world. No, Islam is not the cause of terrorism. Yes, the Taliban is a complex phenomenon. No, Imran Khan is not a major political figure. This past week, though, I am silent. The massacre of 94 members of the minority Ahmadiyya community on May 28 has exposed something ugly at the heart of Pakistan – its laws, its rulers, its society. It’s not the violence that disturbs most, gut-churning as it was. During Friday prayers two teams of attackers stormed Ahmadiyya mosques in the eastern city of Lahore. They fired Kalashnikovs from minarets, chucked grenades into the crowds, exploded their suicide vests. As the massacre unfolded, a friend called – his father-in-law, a devout Ahmadi, was inside one of the besieged mosques. The family, glued to live television coverage, were sick with worry. Two hours later, my friend’s relative emerged alive. But many of his friends – old men, including a retired general and former judge – were dead. The killers were quickly identified as “Punjabi Taliban” – a loose collective of local extremists with ties to the tribal belt. This was unsurprising. More dispiriting, however, was the wider reaction. Human rights groups reacted with pre-programmed outrage; otherwise there was a virtual conspiracy of silence. A dribble of protesters attended street protests against the attack in Lahore and Karachi; eleven people showed up in Islamabad.

    The normally vociferous media were unusually reticent. Commentators expressed dismay at the violence, but few dared voice support for the Ahmadiyya community itself. Politicians turned yellow. Few visited the bereaved; still today, the chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, has not visited the bullet-pocked mosques or offered compensation to the injured. In the national parliament, three brave female MPs crossed party lines to propose a resolution condemning the attacks, in the face of massive indifference. The motion passed, just. The reticence is rooted in law and history. Ahmadis believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a 19th century Punjabi cleric, was the messiah sent by God – a notion that deeply offends orthodox Muslims for whom Muhammad, who lived in 7th-century Arabia, is the final prophet.

    The problem is that the state has taken sides in this religious argument. Since the 1970s, civilian and military governments have passed laws enshrining the discrimination against Ahmadis, today thought to number about 4 million in Pakistan. And so they live in the shadows of society. Under the law, Ahmadis may not call themselves Muslims and may not refer to their places of worship as “mosques”. Orthodox Muslims applying for a passport must sign a statement deriding Ahmad as an “imposter”. Any Ahmadi who defies these edicts can be sentenced to death; in 2009, 37 were charged under the blasphemy laws and 57 under Ahmadi-specific laws.

    This state-directed discrimination has caused prejudice to soak into the bones of even well-educated Pakistanis. It is acceptable to denigrate Ahmadis as “agents of foreign powers” such as the CIA and Raw, India’s intelligence service. In 2008 a prominent preacher on Geo, the country’s largest channel, suggested that right-minded Muslims should kill Ahmadis. Within 48 hours two Ahmadis had been lynched. The television presenter has prospered. REFERENCE OF AHRC: A report from Asian Human Rights Commission on GEO TV: PAKISTAN: Two persons murdered after an anchor person proposed the widespread lynching of Ahmadi sect followers ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-203-2008 PAKISTAN: No action taken against Geo TV presenter who incited Muslims to murder members of Pakistan minority on air FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AHRC-STM-244-2008 September 18, 2008 A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission – PAKISTAN: No action taken against Geo TV presenter who incited Muslims to murder members of Pakistan minority on air Last year a banner appeared outside the high court in Lahore, declaring “Jews, Christians and Ahmadis are enemies of Islam”. Few complained. The silence that followed the Ahmadi killings was broken last week by a tsunami of outrage at the Israeli commando raids on boats headed for Gaza. Commentators and politicians fulminated at the treatment of the Palestinians – a minority that suffers state-sanctioned, religiously driven discrimination. Nobody got the irony. It makes one realise how small the constituency of true liberals is in Pakistan – not Pervez Musharraf-style liberals, who drink whisky and attend fashion shows, but people who believe the state should cherish all citizens equally. That, after all, was the publicly expressed desire of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, 63 years ago. Today it lies in tatters.

  2. Lack of media accountability in Pakistan

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