The Nation misrepresents Bilawal’s statements…again

Oct 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: The Nation

The Nation (Nawa-e-Waqt Group)Even before his full entry into the political arena, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is already facing media attacks usually reserved for more seasoned political veterans. The Nation on Tuesday lobbed a rather serious attack against the young PPP Chairman, terming his attitude as ‘defiant’ and claiming that he has ‘attempted to threaten the judiciary from the safety of New York’. Has the young PPP Chairman decided to enter politics on the path of confrontation? It turns out that comparing what Bilawal actually said to the way it was described by The Nation, however, one can’t help but wonder if the editors actually knew what Bilawal had said.

According to The Nation, Bilawal struck a defiant tone and declared that the executive would disobey the Supreme Court.

This defiant attitude shows that the Co-Chairman is of a mould that supports the party policy of protecting a single individual from the consequences of his actions, even if that means one organ of the state, the Executive, refusing to do what another, the Judiciary, tells it to, even both are duty-bound to do so.

Actually, Bilawal’s speech which lasted almost 20 minutes included less than three minutes of discussion about the judiciary. Here is what Bilawal actually said:

We believe a truly independent and impartial judiciary is a fundamental component to a democratic Pakistan. This is why we respect the majesty of justice and accept the rulings of the Supreme Court despite reservations. We will not violate the Vienna Convention. We will not violate the Constitution of Pakistan. If this Court sees it fit to do so; if this Court insists on trying the grave of Shaheed Mohtama Benazir Bhutto; to repeat the mistakes of history; to refuse to redeem itself for the role it played in the judicial murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then the ultimate decisions will lie in the court of history, and the court of the people.

The Pakistan People’s Party must set the precedent for democratic governments to come, and we will therefore continue to follow the principles of democracy and the principles of justice, whether we agree or disagree with the Supreme Court.

While we can agree to disagree on whether justice is being done, we must all agree that a basic principle of justice is not only that justice should be done, but justice should be seen to be done. The judiciary in Pakistan will never build its reputation as a truly independent and impartial judiciary if there are double standards.

It is highly inappropriate, for instance, that in the case of the Chief Justice’s own son, the investigator, the prosecutors, and the judges who will hear the case are cherry picked by the Court. My hope is that the Court will find its rightful role and carry out its duties in such a way that it restores its institution’s credibility. If the Court cannot, or if the Court will not, we the people must call for judicial reforms needed in a mature democracy.

This is much different from the way his speech was represented in The Nation‘s editorial. Rather than supporting “policy of protecting a single individual from the consequences of his actions” or “refusing to do what another, the Judiciary, tells it to”, Bilawal said precisely the opposite. He called for a single standard of justice to be applied uniformly to all citizens, and that justice should be truly independent and impartial.

This instance is especially troubling as it is not the first time that The Nation has misrepresented Bilawal’s own words to make a political attack against him. Journalists have a responsibility to verify by checking facts and sources – even if they don’t support their target’s politics.

While we understand that there is no love lost between the editors of The Nation and the PPP, we do believe that the media should at least refrain from putting words in Bilawal’s mouth. Since the editorial begins by noting that they are responding to what Bilawal “is reported to have told a party convention”, this could be a case of misunderstanding. But that is simply not good enough for a major media group like Nawa-i-Waqt.

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