Making Sense on Memogate

Nov 26th, 2011 | By | Category: Conspiracy Theories, Dunya

Dunya TVIt is unfortunately more common that our reports examine inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour by our respected journalists. Occasionally, however, there are moments that make us proud to be associated with the profession and we do like to recognise these as well. After a week of media circuses, we are pleased to be able to once again post some praise, this time for the responsible manner in which Mujib Shami handled the memogate story on Nuqta-e-Nazar.

What is important to note is that in his handling of the issue, Mujib Shami’s main point is not that one side or the other is correct or incorrect, but that too much of the media reports have been based on conjecture and assumption. For example, consider the way the conversation starts:

This entire case has rested on conjectures or assumptions. The conjecture is that Mansur Ijaz wrote a memo and that the letter was delivered and once delivered action was taken. But the alleged memo, what does it have? It asks Mike Mullen to immediately contact Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and warn him that he should not dare to overthrow the democratic government in the country. And that if Mullen gives this warning to Kayani and to Mr Shuja Pasha and they stop and the democratic government survives then the government will do the following for you. But since memo is unsigned we don’t know who wrote the memo.

Now tell me, did Mike Mullen call Kayani?

No.

Did Mullen warm him?

No, he didn’t.

Did they stop because of the warning? Were they going to do a coup?

That is a conjecture. They were not going to do a coup.

When all these are conjectures/assumptions then I am worried that where are we going, what are we doing and what kind of a country have we become?

This last line may be the most important line spoken on television in decades. When we start to treat conjecture and assumption with facts, where can we possibly go as a nation?

Actually, such behaviour has direct consequences on the ability of the nation to function. As Shami points out quite clearly.

That people got after Husain Haqqani so in a way it was important for the government to remove him because they felt that he would not be able to work in such a controversial environment. But please remember that an inquiry has to still take place. Now this is very interesting that the resignation has been taken even before the inquiry.

What if an independent inquiry clears Husain Haqqani’s name? Then an innocent man will have been forced to resign because of a media circus.

This is a serious consideration as we have written before that media coverage of the issue so far has been dominated not only by speculation, but that much of that speculation has turned out to be incorrect.

Once again, Shami lays this all out perfectly.

If Husain Haqqani had to run away from the country why would he return? Even before he returned our media started saying that he wont return. And the Indian papers said that he has sought asylum in US. Then we asked him to resign, he resigned. And when he Tweeted that he has resigned there were counter assertions by the PM house that he had not offered but was asked to resign. So petty are people…

So petty, indeed. Rather than help the people cut through the confusing mess of conjecture, assumption, rumour and innuendo, too many of our most popular media personalities are jumping at the opportunity to give their own opinions and add to the controversy. As Mujib Shami correctly notes, too much of what we believe is because we are not being told facts, but conjecture and assumptions. He is not saying that one side or the other is correct, he says quite clearly “please remember that an inquiry has to still take place.” Husain Haqqani has resigned, and there is a new Ambassador Sherry Rehman. Contrary to media assumptions and speculation, Husain Haqqani has returned to Pakistan and has turned over his Blackberry for investigation. An inquiry is being prepared and the facts will come out. This is what the media should be reporting – facts, not conjecture.

When the cameras are turned off, many people find Mansoor Ijaz’s story thoroughly questionable, but there are still some questions remaining and no one wants to pass up the opportunity presented by such a sensational story. The problem is, writing exciting and controversial stories isn’t be the basis legitimate news programmes. Such stories are for drama serials.

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