Posts Tagged ‘Anjum Niaz’

The News speculates on Mansoor Ijaz with a twist

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

The News (Jang Group)When Mansoor Ijaz’s piece in Financial Times was published earlier this week, we could almost feel the excitement in the air. Here is a piece in the international media that claims a conspiracy from president’s house! But, wait, there’s a problem! The majority of the piece actually attacks the national agencies a being a source of international terrorism! It seemed a missed opportunity for Zardari haters, for what self respecting journalist would be willing to blatantly ignore half of the claims in a column just to exploit the other half? But once again, The News (Jang Group), sinks to expectations.

Anjum Niaz tried to keep her piece short, possibly as a way to avoid drawing too much attention to the fact that her column is completely without substance. She even admits that the source, Mansoor Ijaz, is a “coup master” who “thrives on conspriracy theories” and is “driven by an uncontrollable ego to showcase himself as a kingmaker”. Then, after all but terming Mr Ijaz a bald faced liar, Anjum Niaz suggests that perhaps we should at least consider his claims anyway.

And then we get a hint to Anjum’s game:

First, Mansoor Ijaz must have provided irrefutable proof to the editors at FT. They will have gone over the “phone calls and emails” exchanged between Ijaz and the diplomat to establish the authenticity of the information. Publishing such slanderous material is to invite libel.

This blog has already investigated in detail just how credible Mr Ijaz is, but let’s consider Anjum’s argument on it’s own merits. According to Anjum Niaz, the Financial Times “will have gone over the “phone calls and emails” and therefore anyone who uses basic common sense to question the credibility of Pakistan’s James Bond is wasting his time. Perhaps. But FT never actually said that they saw any evidence, Anjum Niaz just assumes it is so. It should also be noted that Mansoor Ijaz’s piece for the FT was not an investigative news report, it was an opinion piece. Even if he were asked to provide some evidence supporting his sensational claims, we don’t know how much or of what quality this evidence is. Presumably it was of the same quantity and quality of evidence he showed the Wall Street Journal when he claimed to have been a secret negotiator between Sudan and the United States government – a claim for which America’s National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States “found no credible evidence”; or the quantity and quality of evidence he provided the Los Angeles Times in 2003 when he claimed that,”the growing body of publicly available evidence offers sufficient proof of Baghdad’s mendacious designs to warrant the immediate use of force”. We remember how credible that ‘evidence’ turned out to be. Mansoor Ijaz even claims to have brokered a ceasefire between Kashmiri mujahideen and Indian army, although Jang Group reporters who were there tell a different story.

Next year, Khalid Khwaja tried to fix a meeting between American businessman Mansoor Ijaz and Kashmiri militant leader Syed Salahuddin. Khwaja contacted Salahuddin through his friends in Jamaat-e-Islami and informed him that Mansoor Ijaz wanted to deliver a letter from Bill Clinton. Syed Salahuddin came to know that Mansoor Ijaz had meetings with Indian Army officials in Srinagar in early 2000 and also with then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. He smelled a rat and refused to meet Mansoor Ijaz.

As we see, even a decade ago people were questioning the credibility of Mansoor Ijaz’s sensational stories and smelling ‘a rat’. And shouldn’t Anjum Niaz also be making the same assumptions about the evidence Mansoor Ijaz provided to back up his claim that the ISI is “a sponsor of terrorism” that “undermines global antiterrorism efforts at every turn”? She conveniently leaves out this entire part of Mansoor Ijaz’s latest conspiracy theory.

From there, Anjum spirals downward into a confused mess of speculation.

[I]f the account is accurate, Pakistan must identify the senior diplomat who allegedly contacted Mansoor Ijaz and prepared a dossier on behalf of Zardari for the White House and Admiral Mullen with Mansoor Ijaz as the messenger. How did the diplomat gain access to our military’s top secrets to pass them on to the White House and Admiral Mullen? Who gave them to him?

What if the senior diplomat was Hussain Haroon! What if it was Maleeha Lodhi, who Anjum’s colleague Shaheen Sehbai notes was Ambassador when Mansoor Ijaz supposedly arranged secret meetings between Nawaz Sharif and American national security officials at the White House! What if Gen Pasha gave away our military’s top secrets to the White House to the supposed diplomat! What if the national agencies are filled with Bharati agents! What if it was Anjum Niaz, pictured below with American President Bill Clinton who is the selling the nation!

Anjum Niaz with American President Bill Clinton

Or, what if this is all just hair-brained nonsense…

Which bring us to the other Jang Group journalist who attempts to squeeze a controversy out of a conspiracy.

Shaheen Sehbai has been suffering humiliation for over three years now since Asif Zardari was elected to the presidency and not immediately booted out, as Sehbai incorrectly predicted. During these years, he has penned a number of pieces based in little more than rumour and speculation, and that appear to be aimed at pitting the civilians and the military against each other. His blatantly selective reading of Mansoor Ijaz’s opinion piece for FT is only the latest strike in this sad campaign.

In a way, Shaheen Sehbai and Mansoor Ijaz have much in common. Both are prone to speculation, and both are known not to let inconvenient facts get in the way of a political agenda. Speculation plays a key role in this piece by Shaheen Sehbai also, as the author admits when he says that “The real facts would come out if and when the full text of that [alleged] memo ever gets out”. Lacking “real facts”, Sehbai decides to invent his own fantasy scenarios and wonders whether Zardari would offer to replace the present Army leadership with a team more friendly to the Americans. Unfortunately for Sehbai, such lazy speculation doesn’t pass a test of basic common sense – Zardari has already granted unprecedented extensions to both General Kayani and General Pasha, and sacking the leadership now to replace them with a more pro-American team would not discourage a coup, it would practically invite one.

Ironically, the one person who comes out smelling like roses is one of Shaheen Sehbai’s favourite punching bags, Husain Haqqani. After all, if Shaheen Sehbai is correct, Zardari knew that he could not trust his Ambassador in Washington to deliver such a pro-American, anti-Army message to the American government, so he had to turn to Mansoor Ijaz. So much for the old slander that says Husain Haqqani is ‘America’s ambassador to Pakistan’s embassy’, Zardari’s man in Washington who the Army doesn’t trust. Instead of being a pro-American Ambassador, Husain Haqqani is now a diplomat that must be worked around if an anti-Army message is to be delivered to Washington.

This brings us to the point that Shaheen Sehbai spends most of his time on: Mansoor Ijaz’s credibility. Unlike his colleague Anjum Niaz, who stops short of opening her column by terming Mansoor Ijaz a liar, Shaheen Sehbai goes out of his way to try to turn the “coup master” who “thrives on conspriracy theories” into a saint. He starts by echoing Anjum Niaz’s line that “the FT is not likely to publish something which it cannot substantiate if it was so required”. Some might find it curious that two ‘journalists’ working for the same media group would write the exact same speculative theory on exactly the same day, despite that fact that whether or not Mansoor Ijaz’s piece “invites libel”, they have no evidence to suggest it is true; or that if Mansoor Ijaz is in fact telling the truth, it has far greater implications for the subjects that both Anjum Niaz and Shaheen Sehbai conveniently left out of their ‘analysis’.

This gets to the obvious, though utterly predictable, failing of both Shaheen Sehbai’s and Anjum Niaz’s pieces for The News. Mansoor Ijaz’s column for FT included a brief accusation against Zardari in the opening paragraphs, but the bulk of the piece was directed not at Islamabad, but Rawalpindi. The title of the piece, it should be reminded, was ‘Time to take on Pakistan’s jihadist spies’ – nothing to do with Zardari. Mansoor Ijaz stated his conclusions and recommendations quite clearly: “More precise policies are needed to remove the cancer that ISI and its rogue wings have become on the Pakistani state…The enemy is a state organ that breeds hatred among Pakistan’s Islamist masses and then uses their thirst for jihad against Pakistan’s neighbours and allies to sate its hunger for power”. If Anjum Niaz and Shaheen Sehbai are to be believed and Mansoor Ijaz’s claims are above reproach, our security services are overrun with jihadis bent on overthrowing the government an installing a terrorist state.

But neither Shaheen Sehbai’s nor Anjum Niaz’s readers would know this, since Jang Group‘s ‘journalists’ conveniently ignored all of Mansoor Ijaz’s claims that were not convenient to their amateurish attempt at political point scoring and driving a wedge between army and civilian leadership. This highlights a major failing in our so-called ‘news’ media. Too many of our alleged ‘journalists’ are nothing but aging political gossips who act as if they would gladly sink the country for a juicy bit of drawing room drama. That’s not journalism. It’s not even a very good political hatchet job. Really, it’s just embarrassing.

Conspiracy theories and hate speech in the media

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The Nation logoIn The Nation this week, senior journalist and project consultant/editor at Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) Ghani Jafar approaches a worthwhile subject – media used for propaganda in Pakistan. But instead of a serious investigation of the issue, readers are spoon fed tired conspiracy theories and hate speech.

Allegedly an examination of American influence in media, Ghani Jafar’s piece quickly descends into transparently silly claims packaged in hate speech. Take for example his claim that the electronic media is becoming a puppet of American propaganda.

The onslaught has become so pervasive that, barring some honourable exceptions, the electronic media space of Pakistan is becoming their Master’s Voice. A la CNN and Fox News, they have employed half-literate, attractive young females to keep male viewers glued to the screens.

Where to begin? First, the idea that the electronic media is a mouthpiece for the US is so laughable that I cannot help but wonder if Jafar sahib actually owns a television. But then let us ourselves examine the evidence he gives for this claim – TV channels “have employed half-literate, attractive young females to keep male viewers glued to the screens”.

Ghani Jafar

What a proper journalist should look like?

 

The sexism of such a statement is beyond the pale and frankly shocking coming from such an esteemed journalist. Should the role of TV anchors be reserved for men only? And which of the female journalists does Jafar sahib believe are “half-literate”? Is he speaking of Ayesha Tammy Haq? Or Ayesha Siddiqa? Or does he mean Munizae Jahangir or Fareeha Adrees? Please tell which are the stupid women journalists you mean!

 

 

But Jafar’s hatred is not reserved for Pakistani women alone. He goes on to spit his venom at American journalists by terming a major American newspaper as a tool of “the powerful Jewish lobby”.

Talking of this mother of the US strategic communicators, I must confess being taken aback when a senior journalist in the New York Times editorial department had; in anticipation of my question regarding the daily’s linkage with the powerful Jewish lobby, for I was then visiting America (in 1991) as the Executive Editor of dear departed The Muslim in Islamabad; volunteered to confide that, yes, they did advance the cause of the Shylocks in the City of Gold.

Again, the writer offers no name for this New York Times editor who volunteered that the newspaper is a tool of Jewish hegemony leaving us to take Jafar’s word despite our own mind’s telling us that this conversation never really took place at all.

Neither is this the first time that hate speech has been featured prominently in mainstream media and neither is The Nation the only offender. Anjum Niaz infamously termed the same American newspaper as ‘Jew York Times’ in 2002 for a piece published by Dawn.

In both the instances of Anjum Niaz’s racist hate speech in Dawn and Ghani Jafar’s racist hate speech in The Nation, the question must be asked where were the editors when these pieces came across their desks? Were they sleeping on the job, or does this type of hate speech accurately reflect the beliefs of the media groups which own them?

After lashing out at the Jewish bogey, Ghani Jafar then proceeds to term Pakistani media as “terrorists” due to the response to the murder of fellow journalist Saleem Shahzad. According to Jafar sahib, “Fingers were instantly pointed at the ISI without the slightest clue as to who had picked him up, where, how – or other ‘unnecessary’ details.”

Actually, the ISI fell under suspicion after it was revealed that Saleem Shahzad had emailed Ali Dayan Hasan informing him that he was summoned to an ISI office.

Shahzad came under ISI scrutiny in October when he wrote in the Asia Times that Pakistan had freed a detained Afghan Taliban commander.

Within days, he was summoned to an ISI office, according to an email he sent to Ali Dayan Hasan, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. Intelligence officials pressured him to reveal his sources or retract the story. He refused.

At the end of the meeting, one of the intelligence officials issued what he took as a veiled threat. The official told Shahzad intelligence agents had recently arrested a terrorist who was carrying a hit list. The official then said he would tell Shahzad if his name was on the list.

This does not prove ISI complicity in Saleem Shahzad’s death, but it certainly provides “the slightest clue” that any investigative journalist worth his weight would be negligent to ignore. So why is Jafar sahib so quick to ignore it?

What is most curious about this bizarre rant in The Nation is that just a few weeks ago the same journalist wrote a long piece in Daily Times criticising Liaquat Ali Khan for “forcing both Islam and Urdu down the throats of his adoptive homeland of Pakistan”, Nurul Amin as “a wily, scheming and ruthless butcher”, and terms Gen Zia-ul-Haq as the biggest “compulsive liar”. Why is Ghani Jafar so offended by those who will question the establishment when he does the same in his next breath?

Jafar Sahib then goes on to claim that Osama bin Laden was innocent of the 9/11 attacks and that this was all an invention of CNN.

Anyway, going back to 9/11 and its scheme of things, President Bush had wasted little time after the establishment of the ‘fact’, by who else but the CNN, that the ‘terrorist’ happenings of the day were the handiwork of a little known network of Al-Qaeda, to announce the start of the global ‘crusade’ [his words] that now must be wrapped up because, among other things, Uncle Sam has gone broke.

Osama may well have been quick in condemning the 9/11 happpenings, but who was listening? Ten years later, America’s lackeys in Pakistan are not listening to anything that Uncle Sam may not like to hear.

But let us once again look at the facts. It was CNN that published the alleged statement of Osama bin Laden denying involvement only a few days after the attacks. When Osama bin Laden sent a video tape admitting responsibility, the statement was published by Al Jazeera. If Ghani Jafar performed even the minimum of research he would know these facts. Instead he has simply repeated transparently silly and easily debunked conspiracy theories.

It is both puzzling and unfortunate that Jafar stooped to this peddling of conspiracy theories and hate speech in what could have been an important and informative piece. Complaints about intelligence agencies using media for propaganda purposes have been bubbling under the surface for some time. None other than Ansar Abbasi has complained of this in his own writings that the military establishment is “feeding the media with distorted information”.

Additionally, Wikileaks cables have revealed that editors at Jang Group may even be aware of journalists taking payments from intelligence agencies but choose to look the other way.

10. We have protested directly to reporters, editors, and the Group Chief Executive and Editor in Chief Mir Shakil ur Rehman over the consistent inaccuracy of “Jang Group” reporting, as well as their refusal to apply the most basic standards of journalistic ethics, stating that we expect to be called about and to respond to any story any entity of the group is carrying about the Embassy or its activities, and even provided them with direct telephone numbers for the IO, the PAO, and the Ambassador. Despite these efforts, the “Jang Group” has not changed its practices.

11. All of this occurs under the eye of the Group Editor who has not exercised supervision or applied good journalistic practices when assigning and reviewing stories. When queried by Post’s IO he stated that they know that many of their reporters have political agendas, are paid by ISI, military intelligence, Jamaat-e-Islami, or other interests but that they prefer not to fire or reprimand these reporters.

If it is true that “the US has allocated $50 million” for buying media channels and journalists, why not conduct investigative research and provide facts that reveal which media channels and journalists are taking payments whether from US accounts or any other agency accounts? Does this not seem to be the sensible and rational reaction to such a claim? Instead, readers of The Nation are told this claim and then paragraph after paragraph following contains nothing on the subject.

Perhaps the most troubling of all, though, is that Ghani Jafar is referenced in his bio as “project consultant/editor at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI)”. Does this article then reflect the quality of work being performed at ISSI? Let us hope that there has been some mistake, and that the conspiracy theories, hate speech, and lack of basic research were an accident that does not reflect the true nature of Ghani Jafar, The Nation, or ISSI.

Wishful Journalism (part 3): The Firing of Hussain Haqqani

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

President Zardari may be the most popular person for the “Wishful Journalists” to try to pray out of office, but he is not the only one. In part 2 of the Wishful Journalism series, we looked at the case of Rehman Malik. Today, we consider Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, and the journalists who have been wishing for his removal for almost two years.

Sajjad Malik recently wrote in Daily Times, “Rumours rife about Haqqani’s removal”:

Rumours about the removal of Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani are once again making rounds in the Foreign Office, with several top diplomats pulling strings to step into his shoes.

Senior diplomatic sources said the rumours about possible removal of Haqqani had gained momentum amid reports that the US may not oppose his replacement because of his widespread unpopularity among khakis.

Malik’s article goes on to not name anyone who actually says Haqqani is being removed. But this is an old line. Last November, Anjum Niaz wrote that the Army was going to “pull the plug on our leaders” in which she predicted the end of the Zardari government and the imminent firing of Haqqani from his post. Obviously, this never happened.

Anjum Niaz went on to suggest that Haqqani could not return to Pakistan because he would be in danger if he returned to his homeland.

“The [Pakistani] military clearly has decided that it would like to have him removed,” says The Boston Globe, citing a congressional aide not authorised to speak to the media. “If he returned home, friends say, his safety could be threatened,” reports the Globe. “Haqqani hasn’t returned to Islamabad for eight months.”

Actually, Haqqani was just in Pakistan where he met with the President and Gen. Kayani to discuss national security matters.

The president said the US drone attacks on Pakistani territory undermined national consensus on the war against terrorism.

Zardari expressed these views during a meeting with US National Security Adviser General James Jones – accompanied by US Ambassador to Islamabad Anne W Patterson and other US officials – who called on him at the Presidency.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani were also present at the meeting.

Anjum Niaz appears to have very unreliable sources, if they even exist.

As for the latest rumours of his imminent removal, these all appear to have started from the same source: an article in The Nation by Kaswar Klasra. Of course, this article also contains no sources, and appears to be based only on speculation and wishful thinking. What is missing from Klasra’s article, in fact, are statements from the Foreign Office or the Embassy. Any proper reporter worth his weight in salt would call the official offices to inquire about these rumours. I don’t know if Klasra took the time to call anyone, but he certainly did not report what answers he was given if he did.

I decided to check for myself to see if there is any truth to these rumours, so I called the Foreign Office and I called the Embassy in Washington. I was told by both offices that there was no plan to remove Mr. Haqqani, and that the rumours were just that — rumours.

But at this point, rumours of Haqqani being removed are a little bit ridiculous. After all, he has almost completed his entire appointment of two years, and has even served longer than other previous Ambassadors to the USA:

Ashraf Qazi served as Ambassador to the USA from 19 August 2002 to 6 August 2004. General (Retd) Jehangir Karamat served as Ambassador from 17 November 2004 to 3 June 2006. Maj. Gen (Retd) Mahmud Ali Durrani served from 5 June 2006 to 9 May 2008.

Hussain Haqqani began his term as Ambassador on 26 May 2008. He has been in this office for almost his entire two year appointment, despite the rather constant predictions of his removal.

Here, I will make some predictions of my own. Gen. Kayani is scheduled to retire in November. When he retires from his post, nobody will say that he was forced out. He will have served his appointment and that will be that. These same reporters,  even if Haqqani completes his appointment, will say that he is being forced out. There will likely be some unnamed ‘sources’ that say that he was not offered an extension because he is viewed unfavorably. But is there any evidence for this? Looking at history, as we did above, the answer is no.

It is not for this blog to take any position on Hussain Haqqani and whether he should be Ambassador, or if he should be offered an extension of his appointment. There are plenty of people who have their own opinions about his performance, and they are entitled to whatever opinion they want. But Haqqani has served as Ambassador for almost his entire term, and longer than previous Ambassadors. Please, leave the wishful thinking to drawing rooms and verandas and publish proper facts in the news.

Anjum Niaz Makes Up Story, The News Prints It

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Another excellent media watch post from “Let Us Build Pakistan” blog, this time taking to task right-wing journalist Anjum Niaz famous for her remarks about “Jew York Times.” It seems in her latest reporting on the VIP protocol granted to Raza Rabbini. Anjum was outraged about this VIP treatment in her article, as is the fashion currently. Unfortunately, there was one problem. It appears that she made the whole thing up.

Now, referring back to Anjum Niaz’s article about the VIP vice in Pakistan in which she narrates a ‘first-hand’ account of Raza Rabbani’s VIP reception at a Pakistani airport, it turned out that the whole story was a piece of irresponsible journalism written with the sole aim of tarnishing the image of the PPP’s leadership. In fact Raza Rabbani was no where to be seen on the flight that Anjum Niaz is fantasizing about. Actually, Rabbani did not travel on that day at all.

The LUBP has learnt that Raza Rabbani has strongly protested with the Editors of The News on this fraudulent story by Anjum Niaz.

Anjum’s column published yesterday admits her mistake, taking care (of course) to do so only in passing as she essentially publishes the same article about Senate Chairman Farooq Naek, who, she claims, was actually the person receiving the VIP protocol. Anjum, of course, believes that the Senate Chairman is not worthy of VIP status. I don’t intend to argue this point, but will leave that to Abdul Nishapuri to do on his own.

For the purposes of this blog, it is important to point out that, once again, a ‘prominent’ journalist has not only written, but a major newspaper has published a scathing attack on someone without even checking their facts. It is common practice for the editor of a news publication or TV show to require evidence before a factual claim is to be made. Did this happen here at all?

How hard would it have been for the editor of The News to call and verify that Raza Rabbani was actually on the flight? It also raises the question of whether or not Anjum Niaz was even there herself, or if she is embellishing the claim based on rumours that have been passed onto her by someone else.

Either way, there is no excuse for this poor journalism. The facts in this case would have been simply to verify. One phone call is all it took. Instead, The News allowed Anjum Niaz to make up a story and then they printed her false accusations making no attempts to verify the facts. Congratulations to Let Us Build Pakistan blog on another investigative job well done.

Topsy-Turvy Kal Tak

Friday, January 8th, 2010
Kal Tak Ignores The Real Story

Kal Tak Ignores The Real Story

Sometimes the timing of the media is almost too much to notice without breaking into a great laughter. Take for example the latest episode of Kal Tak and then the next day’s Daily Times column by Dr. Masooda Bano. Let us look at these two media types next to each other.

First, Mr. Chaudhry spent the entire show talking about the various crises in the country. Listening to Kal Tak, one could easily believe that the end of the world is coming. Democracy is nowhere to be seen, law and order is completely absent, and only corruption is behind every door. The government is a complete failure, and PPP is secretly planning to repeal the constitution! No need to provide any evidence for any of these claims. It is enough to watch the TV ratings race to the sky to feel sufficiently justified.

Meanwhile, there are of course no conspiracies against the government at all. If one were to believe Mr. Chaudhry, though, shouldn’t there be some conspiracy? After all, it seems that according to Kal Tak, the government is going to end the world!

Obviously, this is all topsy-turvy. Actually, the government is not ending the world. Certainly there are many problems in Pakistan. Yes, there is some corruption. But why is Chaudhry talking about corruption when there was another explosion in Karachi, this time jihadis blowing themselves up on accident before they had a chance to find some school. Is paying some ghoos to the post office a larger problem than this?

And as for there being no conspiracy against the President. Maybe there is not. But can anyone be surprised to think otherwise? How many times will TV anchors make predictions on the air about Zardari being removed from office before it starts to sound like a conspiracy? It was only a few months ago that Anjum Niaz was predicting that there was a conspiracy between the Americans and Musharraf to abuse the President. This article was widely circulated by people like the Master of Conspiracies Ahmed Quraishi who has said on TV himself that he thinks the government should be toppled.

I will not chronicle all the media talk about getting rid of Zardari. If you watch TV even sometimes you will know them well.

With this in mind, I found it quite interesting to read Dr. Masooda Bano’s column, “Planned hype,” in the Daily News. Reading this with Kal Tak still fresh in my mind made me laugh out loud. I laughed at the ridiculousness of Kal Tak an its companions, but I also felt great relief that there is someone of sense writing in the media and making the most important point of all — Pakistan’s media is finally free, but with this freedom comes a great responsibility. I hope Mr. Chaudhry reads The Daily News.