The News Headline on Zardari and Drone Strikes Misleading

Apr 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Jang, The News

The News (Jang Group)The News on Saturday featured a bold front page headline claiming that “Zardari allowed US to boost drone strikes”. But the short article included in the paper offered no evidence to support this sensationalist claim.

Actually, the claim comes from an opinion piece in American newspaper The Wall Street Journal of Friday. The News repeats the claim as if it is a fact because it appeared in this column. But other claims were made in the column also, does The News accept that they are also true?

For example, the same opinion piece says:

Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, has longstanding links to terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network.

Will The News publish this as a front page headline?

The same article also said:

The Pakistani army was also happy to cooperate with the U.S. when the targets of the strikes were members of the Pakistani Taliban who had their sights set on Islamabad. But the army has been less cooperative when the targets were the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan or the ISI’s terrorist partners.

The same article also said:

Still, if the CIA doesn’t trust the ISI, that’s because it has demonstrated repeatedly that it isn’t trustworthy. The Pakistani army has yet to reconcile itself to the idea that Afghanistan should be something other than its strategic backyard, preferably under the control of clients such as the Taliban, and it harbors paranoid illusions that India will encroach on Afghanistan to encircle its old enemy.

Why The News features a front page headline about Zardari who is mentioned only once and not military/ISI that is mentioned several times in the same piece?

Two observations must be made. First is that The News is quoting an opinion piece in a foreign newspaper as if it is a factual report and doing so in a bold front page headline none the less. This is inappropriate and misleading. Second is that The News is quoting the opinion piece selectively and not in full which suggests a political motive to embarrass the president and not to inform the readers.

It should also be noted that President Zardari recently condemned drone strikes and clarified that the US should end the program. Why this did not receive a front page headline in The News? The ongoing tension between Jang Group and the government is well known. But this tension should not affect the headlines. News reports should be based on verifiable facts, not selective quotes to support a political agenda.

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