Does ISI’s Media Wing Have A New Outlet?

Jun 12th, 2014 | By | Category: Uncategorized

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The ISI’s involvement in media is usually discussed in stories about motivation, either positive or negative. Lifafa journalism is an open secret. The publication of a list of journalists who allegedly received some payment from the Information Ministry resulted in important questions about official manipulation of media. What has not received the same scrutiny, however, is meddling by military agencies.

Agency support for propaganda rings and well known old websites such as PakNationalists, PKKH, Opinion-Maker and others has long been suspected as the agencies do not even take measures to conceal their involvement. Stories in national media outlets also bear tell tale marks of agency hands too clever for their own good. Sometimes, media men will even boldly publish the actual origin of their reports.

These stories appear at all times, but if you need to set a clock, the most reliable time is soon after some national security tragedy. Following the most recent series of Taliban attacks against military and civilian targets including Karachi Airport, it might be expected to see soul searching about the military and intelligence agencies role in stopping such brazen attacks. However, instead we find in our inboxes stories like ‘What if Pakistanis Don’t Want Democracy’ trotting out the same old anti-American conspiracies and half-baked claims that ‘Civilian periods of rule have devastated the state structure of Pakistan as a whole’ while ‘the military forces are pillar of the nation’s resilience and strength’. If the narrative is old and dusty, though, the website is brand new.

This raises the important question, who are these websites for? It’s hard to believe they are for anyone other than Pakistanis. After all, it is beyond unlikely that the international press is going to be influenced by such blatant pandering to the military. So what does it mean if a country’s premiere intelligence agencies are running what are effectively psychological operations against their own people? And if they are, why are they giving anti-democratic narratives instead of countering the anti-Pakistan jihadi narrative that is fueling the sectarianism and Taliban sympathies that threaten to undermine public confidence in the national security agencies?

‘Pakistan Tribune’ and its anti-democracy narrative are nothing new in Pakistan. It is just the latest in a long history of fake ‘news’ websites like ‘Daily Mail‘ that pop up whenever someone is looking to spin inconvenient facts into fantasy tales. What Pakistan requires at this time are facts, not fantasies.

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