The difference between ‘Pressure’ and ‘Help’ – Geography?

Apr 16th, 2012 | By | Category: Dawn

On 1st March, Dawn reported that American officials warned the government against pursuing the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline in a piece headlined, ‘Tough US warning on Iran gas pipeline’. The article reported that cooperation with Iran on the pipeline could trigger sanctions under pre-existing US laws, and that the Americans were offering an alternative energy plan:

“As we are ratcheting up pressure on Iran, it seems somewhat inexplicable that Pakistan would be trying to negotiate a pipeline,” the secretary said. “And there is an alternative that we do strongly support — the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.”

The United States believed that it was a better alternative both in terms of predictability and to avoid doing business with Iran, she said.

In its editorial of 2nd March, Dawn characterised the US approach as unwelcome pressure and stated that ‘America would do well not to link Pakistan’s power requirements with Iran’s nuclear issue’.

Now, another nation has stepped in to discourage the construction of the Iran-Pakistan, but they way it is reported is noticeably different. According to a headline in Dawn, S. Arabia offers to help to tide over energy crisis. And what is this ‘help’?

Riyadh is said to have offered an ‘alternative package’ to meet Islamabad’s growing energy needs in an effort to persuade it to abandon the Iran gas pipeline and electricity/oil import deals.

When the US discourages the Iran-Pakistan pipeline and offers an alternative, it is described as unwelcome pressure. But when Saudi Arabia discourages the Iran-Pakistan pipeline and offers an alternative, it is described as ‘help’.

The difference in photos accompanying the stories should also be noted. The report about the American statement is accompanied by a photo of the President Zardari and President Ahmedinejad.

Iran's President Ahmadinejad and his Pakistani counterpart Zardari arrive for an official meeting in Tehran

The report about the Saudi statement, however, is accompanied by a photo of Interior Minister Rehman Malik smiling with the Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister.


This blog does not take a position on whether the Iran-Pakistan pipeline is a good or bad decision. But we do think it is important to ask why the media portrays so differently the same message delivered by two different sources.

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  1. The media likes to think the worse of the United States no matter what its intentions. This anti-Americanism is ingrained in the media, mostly because it sells newspapers and boosts ratings, but partly because such a view is fanned by Pakistan government and military to cover their complicity in US policy in the region.

    The Saudi deal is the exact same deal the United States is offering, these two countries, as they are oft to do, work in tandem.

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