Archive for the ‘The News’ Category

The News Projects Sympathy For Militants In Report on JI Leader

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

The News (Jang Group)A report on the life of former Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmed in The News (Jang Group) projects sympathy for religious extremism and militancy. The report terms Qazi Hussain Ahmed as ‘a man of valour and courage’ and uses as evidence his relationship with Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The print edition of The News even includes a photo of Qazi Hussain Ahmed with the militant leader.

The News 9th January 2013

The News report focuses primarily on the time of the Soviet war in Afghanistan when Qazi Hussain Ahmed supposedly ‘opened a blaze if fire towards the capital Kabul with a Kalashnikov’ and was gifted a pistol by the Hizb-e-Islami leader for his ‘valour and courage’.

The reporter, Tahir Khalil, further reports that “Qazi said the Almighty had saved him for a special purpose which was the unity of all Muslims and their dominance across the globe” and that “Qazi had said he did not differentiate between the Jamaat-e-Islami and Hizb-e-Islami”.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was in the news most recently when it was reported that he condemned TTP
‘s targeting of girls education
, but even this statement was actually not about condemning TTP but blaming attacks on girls schools a conspiracy by ‘foreign intelligence agencies’.

Actually, Hizb-e-Islami has been part of al Qaeda’s Lashkar al-Zil militant group and in 2006 their leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar appeared in multiple videos on Al Jazeera supporting al Qaeda and using rhetoric “similar to that of bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi”.

It should also be noted that Hekmatyar has termed Pakistan military as “traitors” for helping the US succeed in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

All of this raises troubling questions about The News report. Does Jang Group believe that ‘valour and courage’ are defined by militancy? Why did The News choose to publish a report that sympathises with a wanted terrorist, especially one who terms Pakistan military as “traitors”?

 

Conspiracy Culture, Not Ghosts, Behind Killing of Polio Workers

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)An article in The News (Jang Group) of 20th December bearing the headline, ‘Osama’s ghost behind killing of polio workers’ suggests that recent killings of polio workers are the result of a CIA operation intended to catch Osama bin Laden, but the piece ignores the fact that conspiracy theories about polio vaccinations and attacks from militants pre-date the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the revelation about the role of Dr Afridi.

According to the report by Amir Mir, Taliban have been attacking health workers as a result of the operation that captured Osama bin Laden.

The WHO-backed anti-polio campaign in Pakistan is facing the wrath of the Taliban fanatics ever since the May 2011 arrest and subsequent conviction of Dr Shakil Afridi who was hired by CIA to run a fake vaccination drive in Abbottabad to track Osama bin Laden.

But news reports from before the 2011 raid in Abbattabad reveal a long history of militant resistance to vaccination campaigns.

According to a 2008 report by M Ilyas Khan for BBC News, militant leaders objected to polio vaccinations since 2006.

Since last year polio vaccination teams have not been able to vaccinate children in more than 70 out of Swat’s 180 village clusters.

Resistance to vaccinations began when a Swat-based militant cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, started telling people in his FM radio sermons that the vaccine was intended to render their children impotent.

While militants temporarily allowed vaccination programs to proceed under a peace agreement with the military, the program was short lived and polio continued to rise in the country.

In 2010, President Zardari appealed to the masses to cooperate with efforts to eradicate the easily preventable disease.

The president said, “Unfortunately the extremists and militants opposed the vaccination of children against polio on the ground that it was foreign funded and that it made the Muslim children infertile.”

“We have fought against this mindset, and will not permit militants to deprive our children of basic health care. In the fight against this crippling disease we also need to produce polio vaccines locally,” he added.

He called upon the government to step up efforts for the indigenous production of polio vaccine. He hoped that the people will respond actively and positively to eradicate polio by ensuring that every child of their area gets two drops of polio vaccine regularly.”

“Let us on this occasion pledge that no child who should get polio drops, will be missed out.” The president complimented the Health Ministry, the provincial and local governments, international community and partners and workers participating in the polio campaign and wish them all success in their task.

Sadly, militants conspiracy theories continued to spread among the awam and the epidemic continued to worsen.

As of Oct. 13, 111 cases of polio had been recorded this year in Pakistan — second only to the African nation of Chad, where 114 cases have been reported this year. Last year, Pakistan logged 144 cases of polio. Today, Pakistan is one of just four countries where polio is deemed endemic; the other three are Afghanistan, India and Nigeria.

Several factors have stood in the way of eradication. In the country’s volatile tribal areas along the Afghan border, the war against Islamic militants has made it difficult for vaccination teams to make the rounds in villages and towns, where cases of polio continue to spread. The migration of Pakistanis from the country’s northwest to densely populated cities such as Karachi and Quetta has further spread the disease.

Underlying those factors, however, is an intense mistrust among some Pakistanis for the vaccines and the people who supply and administer them. Radical clerics seed rumors that vaccines are un-Islamic because they are made from substances derived from pigs, or that they cause infertility. Some clerics try to convince parents that polio vaccines are made from the urine of Satan.

The CIA’s use of a health programme to find Osama bin Laden certainly exacerbated the problem and has given fuel to militants in efforts to scare the masses into submission, but it was not the cause of the campaign against polio vaccines which pre-dates the Abbottabad raid by several years.

It is not the ghost of Osama bin Laden or the CIA which is behind the killing of health workers in Pakistan. It is the culture of conspiracy theories and the unchecked ability of militants to spread false propaganda that is responsible for this crisis.

Jamaati Noorani

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)Despite approving $2 million for the defence of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the government has been continuously criticised for failing to do enough to defend her rights. But some other Pakistanis have found themselves with less support from the media. A Foreign Office statement saying it would be “premature and wrong to draw any conclusion” about a Police raid on a business office in London in connection with MQM leader Imran Farooq’s murder was attacked in the media for describing MQM as a “secular” party.

Many eyebrows are being raised and some are questioning whether the Foreign Ministry has been hijacked by some secular elements. The Foreign Office press release, if not removed, is available on ministry’s website on following link http://www.mofa.gov.pk/mfa/pages/article.aspx?id=1411&type=1 and is used by international media, including the BBC.

There is one view that the FO comment could also be unconstitutional as the Constitution clearly declares ‘Islam’ as religion of the State and no party could be officially declared as secular, as has been done by the Foreign Ministry at a controversial and sensitive time and manner.

This was written by The News reporter Ahmad Noorani who has a habit of injecting opinion and politics into his articles.

Actually, the Constitution contains no provision that a party can not be official declared as secular. The Constitution does say that “Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan”, but it also says:

“Subject to law, public order and morality:-
(a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion; and
(b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.”

The definition of “secular” is not being exclusively allied to any particular religion. MQM can be considered as a secular party because the MQM manifesto says:

MQM is struggling to abolish this obsolete system in order to establish a truly democratic, progressive and egalitarian society in the country where all citizens have equal rights irrespective of their colour, creed, language, ethnicity, gender, belief and religion.

This should not be a problem even during “a controversial and sensitive time and manner” since Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah famously said in his 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan that,

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Ahmad NooraniNoorani’s confusion seems to stem from his not knowing the definition of secular since he also misrepresented the term in his piece again when he wrote that “The MQM portrays itself as a liberal democratic force but never claimed to be secular force and the party very often hosts big gatherings of religious scholars from all school of thoughts.” If MQM has hosted gatherings of religious scholars from all school of thought, as Noorani claims, they can still be secular. Noorani’s mistake probably comes from the common misunderstanding that the term “secular” means “laa diniyat”. As we have shown, it doesn’t.

But there are other questions that his piece raises also.

Who was so offended by this Foreign Office statement? Whose eyebrows were raised? Whose view is that the FO comment was unconstitutional? Noorani does not name these names, but observant readers might find a clue in the similar statements made by another man at almost the exact same time. An almost identical complaint was made the same day by Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Syed Munawar Hasan who posted on Twitter:

Is it a coincidence that Ahmad Noorani and Munawar Hasan both shared the same concerns about a Foreign Office using the term ‘secular’, and in the same way? It’s possible. We have no evidence that Noorani was acting as a Jamaati operative or that his report is planted. But it does raise the question whether his report is journalism…or just politics.

The News terms its own reporting as ‘conspiracy theories’

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)In an unusual moment of candor, an editorian of The News (Jang Group) termed its own reporting on a recent issue as ‘conspiracy theories’. The admission appears to be unintentional, but whether intended or unintended, it should provide a lesson for media groups to exercise scepticism and discretion before rushing to publish rumours. The editorial which is about the incident of Zeeshan Abbasi’s being poisoned is headlines ‘Close Shave‘ and explains the incident as follows:

Zeeshan Abbasi, the team’s captain, had a close shave with disaster when he took a few sips of diluted phenyl after mistaking it for drinking water. Abbasi, who is partially visually impaired, was rushed to a local hospital where he was later given a clean chit by doctors. But the incident was big enough to ignite conspiracy theories across the Subcontinent – mainly on traditional and social media platforms. It was initially reported in Pakistan that Abbasi had consumed acid that was intentionally placed in front of him in a water bottle during breakfast.

What were these ‘traditional and social media platforms’ that spread conspiracy theories? One happened to be The News.

8th December 2012: ‘Zeeshan served glass of acid in India

Pakistan blind cricket team captain Zeeshan Abbasi was made to drink a glass of acid during breakfast in India, Geo News reported on Saturday here.

8th December 2012: ‘Zeeshan condition stable: sources

The condition of Pakistan blind cricket team captain Zeeshan Abbasi, who was made to drink a glass of acid during breakfast in India, is stable, sources said, Geo News reported.

What is the lesson that The News has taken from this ‘close shave’? According to their editorial,

Despite steps taken in recent times to promote peace between the two neighbours, it is evident that both nations are still miles away from building bridges.

Unfortunately, Editors at The News do not appear to have asked why the two neighbours are still miles away from building bridges and what role the media, including The News itself, plays in projecting misinformation and prejudices against the other. While it is true that Jang Group has taken steps such as supporting the Aman ki Asha campaign to develop stronger relations between Pakistanis and Indians and this should be applauded. But that does not excuse the rush to report sensational headlines and conspiracy theories that reinforce negative stereotypes and undermine the work of their own Aman ki Asha campaign.

Since originally reporting the false conspiracy theory that Zeeshan Abbasi was fed acid by Indians, The News has since reported the correct information that the blind cricketer had actually drank a diluted soap solution that was erroneously left on a banquet table and was treated, released and pronounced fit to play.

Unfortunately, this may be a case of ‘too little too late’ as the anti-Indian conspiracy theory, once let out of the bag, has been grabbed up by those whose interests are served in prolonging suspicion and hatred between the two neighbors. Even if they will not admit it publicly, we hope that this is also a lesson that The News has taken from the incident.

Media conviction in blasphemy case

Monday, December 10th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)The latest blasphemy case to make headlines contains all the elements of block buster film. A Pakistani Professor who studied and taught in America, returned to Pakistan, and is accused by his own nephew. Now another element can be added to the plot. The accused has been convicted…by the media.

A headline in The News (Jang Group) of 10th December announced that ‘Author of blasphemous book arrested’ and the crime correspondent reported that:

The Industrial Area Police have registered a case against the author of a blasphemous book, Professor Dr. Shaikh Iftikhar Ahmad, resident of I/8-4 and arrested him Sunday, the police spokesman said.

Notice that there is no use of terms like ‘alleged’ or ‘accused’. Instead, The News declared the professor as the author of a blasphemous book. There is no explanation of how the books is supposedly blasphemous, and there is no comment from the accused professor. Rather there is only the report that “people belonging to a religious sect surrounded the Industrial Area Police Station and demanded lodging of an FIR against the accused under blasphemy law”.

Shouldn’t the media give all the facts and not just one side of the story? Or is this a case of trial by mob and conviction by media?

Myths and Reality: Re-writing 1971

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it”. It seems some in the media have taken this as a lesson, and intend on writing, or rather re-writing history in order to fix a kinder treatment of some of the nation’s less proud moments. Such behaviour is on full display in today’s The News (Jang Group), which features a report by Momin Iftikhar bearing the title, Sheikh Mujib: the myths of ’71 war. Ironically, the title is actually somewhat fitting, as Momin Iftikhar’s piece is mostly myth itself.

Iftikhar’s thesis is not a new one – the entire ’71 conflict was the fault of Sheikh Mujib and his Awami League who, according to Iftikhar “unabashedly pursued a violence laced agenda of hate and division framed by his Six Points”. What were these six points?

  • The Constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in the true sense on the basis of the Lahore Resolution and for a parliamentary form of government based on the supremacy of a directly elected legislature on the basis of universal adult franchise.
  • The Federal Government shall deal with only two subjects; Defense and Foreign Affairs. All residuary subjects will be vested in the federating states.
  • There should be either two separate, freely convertible currencies for the two Wings, or one currency with two separate reserve banks to prevent inter-Wing flight of capital.
  • The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units. The Federal Government will receive a share to meet its financial obligations.
  • Economic disparities between the two Wings shall disappear through a series of economic, fiscal, and legal reforms.
  • A militia or paramilitary force must be created in East Pakistan, which at present has no defense of it own.

This is a recipe for a decentralised government, not a secession. Creating separate currencies may be bad economics, but it’s hardly violent. Actualy, the Six Points hardly seem like the policies of someone bent on destroying the nation. Given the mood in East Pakistan at the time, they might even sound more like the policies of someone trying to save it. This is not to say that Sheikh Mujib was an innocent lamb, but he was hardly as evil as Momin Iftikhar trys to portray him.

As for Gen. Yahya Khan, Momin Iftikhar seems to believe he was a benevolent patriot who “openly recognized legitimacy of East Pakistan’s economic grousing” (apparently, not wanting to be treated as a second-rate colony is ‘grousing’) whose hand was forced in the decision to postpone the National Assembly of 1st March 1970 by the “uncompromising political stances and unbridled ambitions of Mujib and Bhutto”. As always, bloody civilians forced reluctant khakis to do the needful.

Momin Iftikhar makes no mention of Operation Search Light, of course, sweeping it neatly under the rug. And its not just the victims of Operation Search Light who go ignored by The News, but the charges of genocide and rape that are the foundation of the request for apology by Bangladesh that has given Iftikhar such a stomach ache.

The subject merits a separate write up but it should be educative for Pakistan’s and Pak Army’s detractors to read spell binding incisive research work, perhaps one of its kind on the highly sensitive subject; Dead Reckoning by Sarmila Bose. The claims of mass graves was authoritatively laid to rest in a comment by Henry Kissinger in Apr 1971 when he observed that in a particular case where Bengalis claimed thousand bodies in graves, fewer than twenty could be actually found. A parallel observation was made by William Drummond who wrote in his piece ‘The Missing Millions’ which appeared in the Guardian on June 6, 1972. “Of course there are mass graves all over Bangladesh. But nobody, not even the most rabid Pakistani hater, has yet asserted that all these mass graves account for more than about 1000 victims. Furthermore , because a body is found in a mass grave doesn’t necessarily mean that the victim was killed by the Pakistani Army,” he observed.

Fewer than 1,000 victims, none of whom were killed by Pakistan Army? To read Momin Iftikhar’s mythical revision of 1971, one could easily believe that there was never a war at all! But, no, there was a war. Only in the mythical re-telling of Momin Iftikhar, it was the Bengalis who attacked West Pakistan!

The most brutal atrocities committed by the Bengalis on the West Pakistanis including a large number of women and children has remained a forbidden subject that has persistently remained as convincingly out of sight as the other side of the moon; a taboo simply never touched upon by any Bengali or Indian author, writer or a media person or even anchor.

Are we to believe that the Mukti Bahini flew their planes into West Pakistan and committed atrocities while the Pakistan Army was sleeping? And all of this based on three sources (one of which, attributed to Kissinger, is not even about genocide during the 1971 war, but one isolated claim).

The fatal flaw in Momin Iftikhar’s attempt to re-write history, however, is the mountain of evidence that contradicts his.

Sadly, this unwillingness to face reality but to try to lie to ourselves is nothing new. Gen. Yahya himself refused to admit that there were even a single refugee from the war and that the Bengalis were welcoming the Army actions.

Neither is this the first time that media has played a role in attempting to re-write history, as is evident from the front page of Dawn on 17th December 1971.

Front Page Dawn 17th December 1971

Of course, attempts to re-write history didn’t work then, either.

Front Page Dawn 18th December 1971

 

The point here is not simply to correct Momin Iftikhar’s misleading report, but to note that using media to try to sweep away inconvenient facts and create a more convenient reality never works. Journalists have a job which is to uncover and report the facts – not to try to reinvent them.  It only makes those who try, whether they are DawnThe News, or Momin Iftikhar, look foolish. It should also be asked why Editors at The News allowed such an obvious eye wash to be published in the first place, and whether they have considered how such poor editorial oversight reflects on the rest of their reports.

PEMRA Regulation – Problems and Distractions

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

PEMRAAn article by Ansar Abbasi in The News (Jang Group) about the recent notification of PEMRA’s Content Regulations 2012 appears to have caught the eye of the PM. The article criticises PEMRA for ‘ignoring’ “Islam, the Islamic values, the Ideology of Pakistan and even the integrity of the institution of defence and armed forces”. After reading the article, The News reported on Sunday, the PM felt moved to review the regulations. Unfortunately, this entire discussion is missing the point.

First let me say that obviously we do not condone any defamation of Islam, the ideology of Pakistan, or the integrity of the state or national institutions. But there are two important reasons why is is not newsworthy that PEMRA did not include restrictions on these in its Content Regulations 2012.

First is that the Constitution of Pakistan, in Article 19, clearly addresses these issues already.

Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offence.

As the Constitution has already addressed these issues and directed that any resonable restrictions should be “imposed by law”, it is therefore up to the democratically elected Members of the National Assembly and Senate to draft, pass, and put into force such restrictions. Even if the Constitution did grant PEMRA authority to impose such restrictions, it would be redundant as the Constitution has already addressed this.

More to the point, however, is the simple fact that, Abbasi saab’s Ghairatmand chest-thumping notwithstanding, there is no evidence of media attacking Islam, Islamic values, the Ideology of Pakistan and even the institution of defence and armed forces.

It should be noted that each of the recent media incidents that offended the religious and nationalistic sensibilities of the people occurred in foreign media – not Pakistani media. Whether it was an offensive Facebook page, a blasphemous YouTube video, or an embarrassing BBC documentary, none of these were produced by any media subject to PEMRA’s authority. In other words, Abbasi saab has given himself a stomach ache due to a problem that does not exist.

That is not to say that the media does not have problems. Ansar Abbasi himself has been the subject of criticism by the judiciary for spreading conspiracy theories on the word of “incorrigible liars…of little character and credibility”. Similarly, Jang journalist Muhammad Saleh Zaafir found himself called before the Court and forced to offer unconditional apology for spreading false rumours and insinuations against the judiciary. Even more recently, Daily Jang was found publishing the most ridiculous conspiracy theories, all of which were proven wrong mere days later.

Pakistan media has many issues that need to be addressed – non-payment of salaries, lack of fact checking, conspiracy theories, sectarianism, personal attacks, and political operatives masquerading as ‘investigative journalists’ are rampant and unchecked in the media industry. These are real problems that exist. Media attacks on Islam or the national defence would be serious issues – if they existed. We should be proud that they do not. Instead of wasting the time of PEMRA, the PM and everyone else, we should focus on the real issues facing media today.

Pointless Point Scoring

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)According to a bold front page headline of The News ‘Citizens of 20 states seek separation from the US’. Is the great American Super Power on the verge of collapse before our very eyes? Will the UN have to intervene before another civil war? Actually, that’s nt likely.

The story is referring to “several petitions…requesting the Obama administration to peacefully grant the applied states to withdraw from the United States of America in order to create their own governments”. The report admits that “the likelihood of the current administration to even entertain the idea of allowing states to secede is almost non-existent”, but claims that

“What is sobering to realise though is that in less than 48-hours there have been tens of thousands of people who have quickly rallied behind this very grassroots approach to request change, autonomy, and a small measure of freedom.”

A little perspective. These “petitions” are actually created using a web form on the White House website accessible to anyone.

The following petitions have also been created using the online form:

Make Duncan Trussell the Emporer of Planet Earth

Peacefully grant the city of Austin Texas to withdraw from the state of Texas & remain part of the United States

Not Allow the FDA To Regulate Premium Cigars

The last one has over 32,000 signatures suggesting that Americans care much more about cigars than they do separating from the US.

While The News is busy elevating such pointless stories about Americans expressing unhappiness after their elections while in our own country, real stories about citizens being mistreated and turning against their country out of desperation are ignored or excused with silly conspiracy theories. Target killings continue in Balochistan and large parts of Khyber Paktunkhwa have seperated from Pakistan in all but name only.

Stories about unhappy Americans may give us a feeling of relief that we are not the only nation with unhappy citizens, but they will not end enforced disappearances, targeted killings, or the presence of armed groups fighting against their own military for independence. Media should serve a positive role in the country by informing the masses with facts that are relevant to their lives,not pointless point scoring.

Ahmad Noorani’s Latest Conspiracies: Haqqani and Habib

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)Ahmad Noorani (Jang Group) has recently been accused by the blog criticalPPP.com of being a member of banned militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi based on a FIR against the Jang reporter for spreading sectarianism. Naturally, Ahmad Noorani responded to this accusation by posting on Twitter that it is a plot against him by…Husain Haqqani?

How does the brilliant investigator know that the evil Husain Haqqani is pulling the strings behind criticalppp.com? According to Noorani himself it is because “criticalPPP.com was developed & later promoted on daily basis through his Twitter account by Mr Husain Haqqani.” Of course, we have to take Ahmad Noorani’s word on this since he provides no evidence. But there is at least one reason to eye his claim with suspicion: criticalppp.com started out as criticalppp.blogspot.com in June 2008. But Husain Haqqani did not join Twitter until October 2009. Even if Haqqani was Tweeting links from CriticalPPP, does that mean that he was behind the website? According to Ahmad Noorani’s logic, Husain Haqqani is also behind Washington Post, New York Times, Dawn, Express Tribune, Reuters, Associated Press, etc etc etc.

Naturally, Noorani’s logic is just as bad in his article which claims that PPP was the main beneficiary of Younis Habib’s largesse. As political parties suffer the embarrassment of having the Supreme Court find that they worked with Younis Habib and the ISI to rig past elections, isn’t it a bit convenient for a new report to claim that even the PPP, who was the target of the ISI election rigging scheme, has taken illegal money? But let’s give Ahmad Noorani a fair hearing and judge his reporting on its own merits.

In an interview with The News, Younis Habib admitted paying huge amounts to the PPP leaders but said that he had forgotten their names. Younis said that he had all the documentary evidence in this regard, which he said is in currently in Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s possession. He said that if these documents are handed over to him, he could disclose the names of all the recipients of the money. In 1994, Younis Habib gave an interview saying he had given Rs50 million to Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari but he now insists he doesn’t remember having given this interview.

Younis Habib gave huge amounts of money to PPP leaders, but he can’t remember who he gave it to? And he gave all the evidence to a prominent PPP leader for safe keeping? This is a textbook way to start a conspiracy theory. Make a sensational claim, but insist that the evidence is being covered up. If there really is evidence, it will come to light and prove the claim right. If there is no evidence, you simply have to insinuate that there is a cover up and you can never be proven wrong. Either way, the target of your conspiracy theory will suffer.

Of course, this is not Noorani’s only evidence. He also says that Younis Habib paid Farooq Leghari a high price for a plot of land. So now Ahmad Noorani is not only a pretend journalist, he is also a pretend land appraiser. Even so, if paying too much for land is evidence of election rigging, I’m afraid this country is doomed.

The Supreme Court ruled on 19th October, based on actual evidence, that political parties illegally took money from the ISI distributed by Younis Habib to rig the 1990 general elections. If Ahmad Noorani has any evidence that PPP also took money, he should file a petition with the Supreme Court and provide the evidence, not embarrass himself by spreading conspiracy theories. Similarly, if Ahmad Noorani is innocent of plastering the walls of Islamia University of Bahawalpur with posters carrying objectionable slogans against Shia and Sunni Barelvi sects, he should ask that the case registered against him by Bahawalpur’s Civil Lines Police be dismissed instead of making silly accusations on Twitter.

‘All Parties’? Or ‘Fringe Parties’

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)Do religious parties represent the totality of Pakistani politics? Reading The News, one might easily get that mistaken impression. An article by Muhammad Anis reports that “The All Parties Conference (APC) of political and religious parties on Wednesday demanded a meeting of all Muslim countries in Madina Munawwara to formulate a joint strategy against blasphemous acts in the United States and Western countries”, and that “The APC believed that the US was equally responsible for the recent blasphemous act”. But reading further into the report, one finds that “All Parties” is a bit of a stretch.

The APC was attended by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Syed Munawwar Hasan, Jamaatud Daawa amir Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Maulana Fazalur Rehman, Maulana Samiul Haq, Ejazul Haq, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, Lt. General (retd) Hamid Gul, Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, Liaquat Baloch, Maulana Fazalur Rehman Khalil and others.

For an ‘All Parties’ conference, there are some fairly important names missing. Where is the representation of PML-N, PPP, PML-Q, MQM, or ANP? Where is PTI? Judging by the names listed, the event appears to be more of a Difa-e-Pakistan or Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal conference than ‘All Parties’.

This is no small matter. Readers of The News may read the headline and first paragraphs and not realise that this gathering was not attended by the parties that represent the majority of Pakistanis. Also by reporting the declarations of this group as the result of ‘All Parties’, The News is factually incorrect. A more appropriate headline would refer to the gathering as ‘Some Religious and Right-Wing Parties’ or possibly ‘Fringe Parties Conference…’.

Religious parties may believe that they represent Pakistan, but their inability to gather popular support suggests otherwise. Until they can demonstrate support beyond rallies and protests, the media should not give them more credit than they deserve.