Visas, Conspiracy Theories, and Propaganda Rings

Mar 4th, 2011 | By | Category: Blogs, Conspiracy Theories, Daily Mail, Pak Observer

When the US under President George Bush decided to invade Iraq, a well documented propaganda campaign was undertaken in which the American people were convinced that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 attacks – a piece of misinformation that was necessary to justify the invasion of Iraq. The propaganda tactic used was a simple one – repeat the misinformation enough, even after it is disproven – and enough people will either believe the lie or be confused about the issue that space will be available to promote a political agenda.

Ahmed Quraishi’s latest column for The News uses this same neocon propaganda tactic of repeating a claim even after it has been disproven.

A third issue is the role of President Zardari, his interior minister and his Washington envoy in facilitating the entry of hundreds of US operatives into Pakistan over the past months. It is clear that the US government and CIA rely on proxies to further its agenda in Pakistan. This must come to an end. The personal interests of individuals in the Pakistani government must never trump national interest. The Oman meeting indicates the goal now is to sweep all these urgent issues under the carpet in the name of saving Pak-US relationship.

This is a continuation of visa conspiracy that was disproven a few weeks ago when Ambassador to USA Husain Haqqani opened the books and revealed to legitimate journalists that there was no conspiracy and that all visas were issued following the proper protocols.

But Ahmed Quraishi does not stop with simply repeating disproven conspiracy theories, he goes a step further by making unfounded smears against unnamed government officials. Suggesting that “individuals in the Pakistani government” are putting personal interests above national interest is a straw man type of argument. If Ahmed Quraishi has some evidence of a government official putting personal interest above national interest, why does he not name the individual and the instance so that it can be investigated? Actually, this appears to be nothing but an attempt to smear the names of individuals while side-stepping liability for defamation lawsuits.

Ahmed Quraishi is not the only person repeating this misinformation. The claim is also repeated by Dr Raja Muhammad Khan in a piece that was published in both Pak Observer and Daily Mail on the same day. But this “Dr Khan” does not even get his facts right from the first two sentences. According to Dr Khan’s column, Raymond Davis, “now works for Xe, commonly known as the Blackwater”. This is false. It has been reported that Raymond Davis was once a special forces soldier who then worked for Xe and left some time ago. He now works for Hyperion Protective Consultants.

But this is not the only error in Dr Khan’s column. He raises the common talking point that the Embassy in Washington issued 400 visas to US nationals in two days, but he does not explain that the majority of these visas were issued for a state visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staff and security before a July 2010 visit. According to the Embassy, these American officials were only in Pakistan for 2-3 days.

Dr Khan quotes the number per the Embassy that “approximately 3,555 U.S. diplomats, military officials and employees of allied agencies were issued visas in 2010”, but as it was explained last month, most of the US officials and contractors were only in the country for three months each, so the total number of US nationals in Pakistan would be 1/4 to 1/3 of the total number of visas issues during the year. This means that at any given moment there are probably 1,000 or fewer US officials in Pakistan.

This number should also be viewed in context. Since the 1980s the number of US diplomatic visas has been roughly the same. During the Cold War when the CIA and ISI were working together to support the Afghan mujahideen, the largest CIA station in the world was in Pakistan. During this time under Gen. Zia, as many as 780 US diplomats were listed in the Islamabad Diplomatic List. Dr Khan claims that “there have been no worthwhile voices on these expansionist designs of US in Pakistan from various circles”, but the truth is that there are no signs of expansionist designs.

In addition to the factual errors of Dr Khan, it is also curious that he concludes his article with the same smear that Ahmed Quraishi uses. Dr Khan says, “The broad criterion should be that, our personal relations and personal gains should not govern the national interests of Pakistan.” Was this some mere coincidence that both Ahmed Quraishi and Dr Khan are writing the same smears, or is this a case of talking points being provided to guide the writers?

It seems there is even more to the story. After some additional searching based on phrases used by Dr Khan, some very curious facts came to light.

On 28 February 2011 at 1:10PM the following comment was posted to an article on the website of Express Tribune by someone named ‘Abdul Rauf Hashmi’:

Who is Spying on Whom?
Let there be end to the era of special protocol for US spying network in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan must investigate all those responsible for the flaws in the visa issuance process and reprimand them on their act. The broad criterion should be that, our personal relations and personal gains should not govern the national interests of Pakistan. The sovereignty, integrity and national pride of Pakistan should be kept in the forefront, while developing our relationship across the national frontiers.

The exact same paragraph appears in the column by Dr Khan today.

Let there be end to the era of special protocol for US spying network in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan must investigate all those responsible for the flaws in the visa issuance process and reprimand them on their act. The broad criterion should be that, our personal relations and personal gains should not govern the national interests of Pakistan. The sovereignty, integrity and national pride of Pakistan should be kept in the forefront, while developing our relationship across the national frontiers.

Further searching reveals that this same article by ‘Dr Raja Muhammad Khan’ first appeared on the website Opinion-Maker.org, the website of “virtual Think Tank” named ‘O.M. Center for Policy Studies’ which chaired by Major Raja Ghulam Mujtaba.

Major Raja MujtadaMajor Mujtaba also serves as Islamabad Editor for VeteransToday.com, which is the website of one Mr “Gordon Duff”. Mr. Duff describes Major Mujtaba’s relations with the ISI in an interview of September 2010.

Well, I only knew one group in the world that I could con into reading (chuckling) 90,000 pages of documents. So, I called our editor in Islamabad, Major Raja Mujtaba and had him forward my request to Brigadier General Asif Haroon Raja who forwarded it to the head of Pakistan’s ISI, and the ISI assigned a group of analysts who, going through the 69,000 pages of documents — I would almost rather have Brigadier Raja on the phone with us here — and that can be arranged and probably should.

Another connection to propaganda and intelligence agencies is the fact that former ISI chief Gen. Hamid Gul is on the Editorial Board of Directors of this website VeteransToday.com which Major Mujtaba is also an editor.

But one does not even have to go that far. Just look at the Board of Advisors for Major Mujtaba’s own ‘Think Tank’ called “Opinion Maker Center for Policy Studies.”

  • Dr Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema of National Defense University who founded Defense & Strategic Studies department in Quaid-i-Azam University
  • Mr Tarik Jan author of books including Universalizing the Abrahamic Tradition, Towards the Universal Islamic State, and the editor of Pakistan’s Security and the Nuclear Option
  • Dr Tahir Amin of Quaid-i-Azam University
  • Brig Asif Haroon Raja
  • Maj Gen Parvez Akmal (Retd)
  • Maj General Muhammad Tahir (Retd)
  • Dr S. M. Rahman is Secretary General FRIENDS founded by General Mirza Aslam Beg
  • Mansoor Malik who worked on F-16 Aircraft Weapons System for PAF
  • Col Bakhtiar Hakeem
  • Air Commodore Khalid Iqbal

Also, who else should show up on the ‘About Us’ page of Opinion-Maker.org but Ahmed Quraishi himself. Perhaps there is no coincidence that he and Dr Khan have reached the same conclusion?

According to his bio on this website, Mr Quraishi “has been commissioned for public policy outreach projects as a consultant, serving mostly government clients in the larger Middle East region”.

UNKNOWNBut all of this information only raises further questions. Who is this “Dr Raja Muhammad Khan”? His bio on the Opinion-Maker.org website says he is Associate Professor with National Defence University Islamanad. Now he is also writing for websites with links to military and intelligence officers. Was this investigated by Jang Group when they published over 20 stories by him since 2009? The same question must be asked of The Nation which has published columns by him as well. Why did these newspapers not inform their readers of the author’s associations?

It also raises the question whether journalism has become the favourite retirement hobby for our military and intelligence officers. It seems that there is virtually no end to the number of “Think Tanks” that are paying retired officers to write ‘analysis’ that ends up spread in newspapers and websites. Also, who is funding all of these websites and newspapers that are proliferating throughout the country? Surely all of these Generals are not donating their time for free.

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions must wait until another day. But one thing is clear, Pakistani media is infested not only with conspiracy theories, but with propaganda rings that seek not to inform but to manipulate. As long as this is the case, media freedom is only an illusion.

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  1. […] Read this article: Visas, Conspiracy Theories, and Propaganda Rings | Pakistan Media … […]

  2. Jang Group should be given replies on the same ground through which these Neo-Fundos judge everybody who don’t agree with their Neo-Fascist Correspondents : Jang Group/GEO TV links with Research & Analysis Wing & US CIA. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/03/jang-groupgeo-tv-links-with-reasearch.html

  3. Actually i think that the charges by these writers may be somewhat true – America is definitely interested in increasing its presence in Pakistan & why shouldn’t it be? Which country would dole out billions & billions of dollars for free without wanting anything in return?

    The problem is these writers are placing the blame on people who have very little to do with this situation. Our defence & foreign policy is being run by the military establishment since long. The civilian government is just a facade as far as these two critical areas are concerned.

  4. Blackwater and Xe strikes again (Shakeel Anjum – Jang Group)

    ‘Another blasphemer’ gunned down By Mohammad Asghar | From the Newspaper (11 hours ago) Today http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/05/another-blasphemer-gunned-down.html

    RAWALPINDI: Only two days after the assassination of Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti in broad daylight, a poor man who had been accused in a blasphemy case and released last year, was gunned down on the outskirts of the city on Friday.

    According to police, Mohammad Imran, who was released along with his friend Sajid Mehmood on Feb 13 last year, was sitting at a shop near a bus stand in Danda village when three masked gunmen attacked him.

    Sub-inspector Mehmood Ahmed, who heads the team investigating the murder, said that two of the attackers entered the shop owned by one Abdul Rehman, while the third stayed outside. “After spotting their target they opened fire, killing Imran on the spot and escaped,” he added.

    Mohammad Akram, an elder brother of Imran, in his complaint suspected that Imdad Hussain, son of Altaf Hussain, of Ckak Baili, was behind the murder. Dawn

    However, police have so far made no arrest. Akram told that the attackers were those who had sent his brother to jail in a concocted case. He was released after the prosecution had failed to produce any witness in the court.

    Mr Akram said his brother`s rivals had filed in the Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court a petition challenging his release.

    He said that Imran had a wife and a little daughter and had been facing financial problems since he was involved in the case.

    Imran and Mehmood were booked by police in a blasphemy case in April 2009 on a complaint lodged by one Asif Fareed who had accused them of passing `insulting` remarks against the holy prophet (PBUH) during a discussion at a village café.

  5. Media appeared on the wizard of society as a sole competitor. With the opening of a chapter of media freedom in Pakistan it was restrained by a dictator but after the restoration of democracy and freedom of speech the media mammoth got a quantum speed. It was a better move but unfortunately Pakistan media failed to set priorities to reshape the society that was split in many school of thoughts. Lack of media ethics and code and conduct also played a vital role in betrayal of media.
    After setting its hegemony a specific section of media assumed the leading role which ultimately took the shape of king maker. Devoid of ethics and boundaries media mongers with incorporated interests added fuel into already religion, cast, creed and faith based divided society. It played a critical role in inciting violence against certain schools of thoughts by promoting extremism and dogmatism. The backdoor meetings of some media pundits with extremist elements very much substantiate the mindset of media mongers in spreading violence. Whatever the objectivity of media was, it proved fatal for the already suffering society of Pakistan.

  6. In Pakistan everyone is Mufti particularly the TV Anchors and certain Journalists (read Ansar Abbasi, Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir, Haroon ur Rasheed, Irfan Siddiqui) – Jang Group is basically “Daarul Ifta” and Incite people for Murder. – Jang Group & Mullahs are Threats to National Unity & Religious Minorities in Pakistan. http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/03/jang-group-mullahs-are-threats-to.html

    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 –

    Liaquat Baloch (Jamat-e-Islami) says (Aaj TV 3 March 2011) that Fatwa is only acceptable when issued by an Scholar (Mufti), read Scholars on Jamat-e-Islami after the clip

  7. Murdering and Butchering “Revolutionary” Media which helped in the Murder of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, doesn’t pay salary to their very own employees – ARY ONE pays salary to their employees with the gap of two months, AAJ TV delays salary 20 to 25 days, NEWSONE/TV ONE (they promote Lunatics like Zaid Hamid and Hamid Gul) delay salaries two to three months. GEO TV Owner Mir Ibrahim Rehman “ATTACKS” Lawyers “Physically” in the premises of Supreme Court.

    Apna Gireban – Ep 06 – Journalists Caught With Pens Down – Part 1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQc1J2rVD68&feature=channel_video_title

  8. Apna Gireban – Ep 06 – Journalists Caught With Pens Down – Part 2

    Hajj on Official Fund was offered by “Allegedly Pious Journalists of Jang Group (Murderer and Killers of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhmxoFznkHY&feature=channel

  9. Who would “Recover” the Public Money from these Blackmailer Journalists who “USED” Government Funds for Offering “Hajj”

    Apna Gireban – Ep 06 – Journalists Caught With Pens Down – Part 3

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjhiUNlIUkM&feature=channel

  10. There are Journalists who offer Hajj on Charity but name Senior Columnists as beneficiaries of Ommission and Commission e.g. Maleeha Lodhi (Jang Group), Ataul Haq Qasimi (Jang group)

    Apna Gireban – Ep 06 – Journalists Caught With Pens Down – Part 4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBXT9qg7wcw&feature=channel

  11. Bold and Confident “PML-N Leader” Khawaja Asif rightly and boldly say that journalists should check their own backyard first before raising Finger on Politicians for every wrong.

    Apna Gireban – Ep 06 – Journalists Caught With Pens Down – Part 5

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNfhNYlEChY&feature=channel

  12. […] Read more… […]

  13. […] should not be such a surprise. You will recall that the author S.M. Hali is connected to the ‘virtual Think Tank’ O.M. Center for Policy Studies that we exposed last week as a possible propaganda ring. Putting his name to articles that are […]

  14. […] Tarik is a member of the previously exposed ‘virtual think tank’ O.M. (Opinion Maker) Center for Policy Studies that has been tied […]

  15. […] he ever was as DG-ISI. A few years ago, some media bloggers began connecting the dots and exposed vast webs of linked propaganda websites, many of which were easily traced back to ‘retired’ military and intelligence […]

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