Posts Tagged ‘Blackwater’

Ansar Abbasi and The News Inciting Possible Murder

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

The News (Jang Group)Ansar Abbasi’s front page article of 12 March is a dangerous game of promoting anti-Americanism and vigilante violence in the country. In the column, Abbasi lists the names of 55 Americans who he terms ‘suspicious’ and ‘alleged to have been spying’. Neither the reporter nor the newspaper present any evidence for these claims, rather they simply put out the names of the 55 individuals and accusations to a public that is already enflamed by the Raymond Davis case.

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This is a deadly dangerous game being played by Ansar Abbasi, and the height of irresponsibility by The News (Jang Group) reminiscent of the foolish act of The Nation in 2009 which accused an American journalist of spying based on no evidence.

Like Kaswar Klasra The Nation in 2009 which resulted in international condemnation, Ansar Abbasi only references unnamed ‘sources’ in his accusation and provides no actual evidence that any of the individuals named has committed any crimes or engaged in any shadowy or spying activities.

Ansar AbbasiNevertheless, with the public enraged over the shootings by American Raymond Davis and the whipping up of emotions by religious parties in street protests, the accusations and naming of these individuals creates a dangerous atmosphere for vigilante violence against any and all Americans regardless of the facts.

Imagine that after 9/11 The New York Times were to publish the names of Pakistanis in the USA and accuse them of being terrorists. This is the same thing that Ansar Abbasi and The News have done today.

If the law enforcement or intelligence agencies believe that an individual is engaged in illegal activities, it is the responsibility of those agencies to detain the individual and present the evidence to a court or in the case of diplomats the government can declare the individual a ‘persona non grata’ and expel them from the country.

It is the height of irresponsibility for someone who claims to be a journalist and a media group that claims to be an objective messenger of news to engage in such deadly games by leveling accusations against individuals that can result in vigilante violence and even cold-blooded murder.

What A Tangled Web They Weave

Friday, February 26th, 2010
Conspiracy Spiders Weaving Their Tangled Web

Conspiracy Spiders Weaving Their Tangled Web

Ayesha Siddiqa’s column in Dawn today is an excellent review of the silliness that continues to waste time and energy – not to mention providing a distraction from important issues. Of course I am referring to the conspiracy theory industry. That’s what it is, really, an industry. These are people who have figured out how to make a lot of money by hawking ridiculous fantasies and dramatic stories. Obviously, they don’t need the same evidence or facts that a real journalist would provide. Just a juicy story about a secret enemy is all that’s needed.

I COULDN’T believe my ears when responsible quarters informed me of an American-Blackwater conspiracy to isolate Pakistan.

According to this heinous plan the objective will be achieved by infiltrating the media, specifically through placing people in responsible positions in the print and electronic media. These plants will then be made responsible for freaking out ordinary people.

While some Blackwater agents are said to be responsible for making people paranoid about a secret plan to destroy Pakistan and take away its ‘crown jewels’ — its nuclear weapons — others have been given the task of exciting the populace with the idea of fighting some kind of holy war against neighbouring states and more.

This is called psy-ops, the art of instilling fear in the hearts of citizens and making them lose touch with reality and faith in their own capabilities. The biggest tool of course is the rumour mill, which is constantly in action churning out half-lies and half-truths. Anyone who cannot be bought off by the company is immediately termed a foreign agent. Such tricks are also useful in hiding the fact that it is in reality these people, who are working to isolate Pakistan, that are on Blackwater’s payroll.

There is evidence of using psy-ops in the past against ordinary folks and making them believe in some outside force conspiring to destroy them. The Germans before the Second World War are a prime example. The entire nation had lost touch with reality to a point that they stopped using rational thinking to assess the behaviour of their own leaders and held a certain kind of people responsible for the malaise they suffered from.

Resultantly, there was the famous witch-hunt through which the Jews, the ‘gypsies’, the physically disabled, homosexuals and non-conformist intellectuals were killed or forced to leave. Very soon, the Nazi military machine managed to get rid of people who would have proved to be an asset for the Third Reich.

Apparently, one of the secondary objectives of the conspirators is to create an environment which kills creative minds and pushes them to leave, hence the brain drain. It didn’t occur to ordinary Germans that their leaders, who were responsible for the First World War as well, were caught ‘with their pants down’ in the process of using military power against the rest of the world, and as such were equally responsible for the tragic state of affairs. In fact, the real conspiracy was to take away the rational faculty of the ordinary citizen.

In Pakistan today ordinary persons are being fed fear and paranoia so that they cannot think about the mistakes made by their own leadership. This is not to suggest that other nations do not make questionable plans but the fact is that painting the world in shades of black and white is in itself a conspiracy against the people.

For instance, the story about the historic American let-down does not mention that our own leadership was equally responsible for serving the interests of foreign states in return for both ‘cash and kind’. Publicly asking Hillary Clinton questions regarding the control of the ISI, for example, is nothing but superimposing the idea of the Pakistani nation’s EQ (emotional quotient). So Washington — rather than Islamabad — decides everything in Pakistan.

I haven’t been informed as yet but I suspect that there is even a larger conspiracy afoot to impair the minds of Muslims all over the world. This is done through instilling the fear of some ‘foreign hand’ behind everything that happens in their countries. Spreading such rumours gradually weakens and ultimately deadens their capacity to think of themselves as people who can control their destinies.

According to this plan, the answer for everything bad or unpleasant lies outside. The bulk of the mentally de-capacitated citizenry then gradually looks up to a certain set of leaders as ‘knights in shining armour’ who will protect them and the state.

The absence of systems in what is called the Muslim world is an eye-opener. The conspiracy deepens since people are also made to believe that their lives will only improve through installing a certain kind of programme on their national hard drive.

The writer is an independent strategic and political analyst.

Father disowns reporter son as "Blackmailer"

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Reporter for The Nation responsible for Hype about Blackwater, US Diplomats

The Peshawar Urdu daily Mashriq has run a notice by the father of the Peshawar/Islamabad based reporter, Syed Fawad Ali Shah, who has recently become prominent as a reporter for The Nation and is also known for  writing blogs about journalists and NWFP government officials and their alleged relations with Blackwater.

The notice by the father describes the reporter son as “a blackmailer”, making one wonder why editor Ms Shireen Mazari allows him to use the columns of her newspaper to pretend to be a reporter.  Shah’s attitude is no different from that of Ahmed Quraishi who has a long history of trying to similarly target and blackmail foreign diplomats in Pakistan.

Following is the translation of the notice appearing in The Mashriq:

“My son Syed Fawad Ali Shah S/O Syed Jamat Ali Shah who lists himself as the Bureau Chief of Daily The Nation, is basically not a journalist. Rather he is a blackmailer.  He has published self-created news stories, based on allegations and unauthentic information against civil, government and the officials of other organizations in different newspapers to mentally torture them and blackmail them for his own interests.  This has now become his occupation.  In addition to this, few years back, he obtained a fake degree of Higher Secondary School and managed to get enrolled in the NWFP Police Department as a constable.  Later, based on charges of stealing official files, harassment of lady police workers, blackmailing officers and on a fake degree, a case was lodged against him in the court.  Consequently, he was sacked and was sent behind bars.  Not only he has stolen important files from the NWFP police department but has also been involved in the misuse of files of other departments in NWFP.  I therefore, announce, while addressing the entire journalist fraternity, owners of newspapers, government and semi-government officials, including police department, FATA Secretariat and other government departments with whom my son Fawad Ali Shah is in contact, that my son is a blackmailer, who is using media as a blackmailing tool and those who are in contact with him or are involved in any kind of dealings with him will be responsible for their own losses.  I also announce that I disown my son and expel him from the ownership all of my transferable and non-transferable property.  I also disown and disinherit my other son Syed Abid Ali Shah for collaborating with Fawad Ali Shah in blackmailing people.  Moreover, they won’t be entitled to own my property even after my death.”

This is not the first time Mr. Syed Fawad Ali Shah has been accused of such deeds, though it is by far the most damning coming from his own father. Last fall, Musarrat Ullah Jan, a journalist for Dunya News TV wrote that Syed Fawad Ali Shah had threatened him for comments he had made in a journalist forum.  Mr. Musarrat Ullah Jan gave application against Syed Fawad Ali Shah to Peshawar Police, Khyber Union of Journalist, and Peshawar Press Club. It is further alleged that Mr. Syed Fawad Ali Shah was expelled from Peshawar police for making the same sorts of attempts at blackmail.

The question for The Nation is why, with all of this evidence against Mr. Ali Shah, they chose to publish his claims of being threatened by Blackwater and American diplomats including the US Ambassador to Pakistan – claims that were presented with no evidence other than his word, and which are immediately suspect given allegation by other journalists and even his own father of his manufacturing stories for attention and personal gain.

Nation Lip Syncs To JUI-F Leader's Tune

Monday, February 8th, 2010

With a sensational headline, today’s The Nation reports today that  Jamiat Ulama -e- Islam (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman says that there are over 9,000 Black Water personnel in Islamabad. The Nation reports these statements without verifying the truth of the JUI-F leader’s claims. As such, The Nation joins the ranks of media outlets acting more like political stooges than legitimate news organizations.

The report, published in the Politics section, simply parrots the words of the JUI-F leader without any comment as to the reliability of the claims, easily leading some readers to accept that they are true. But despite their 7 seats in the National Assembly, JUI-F is not an intelligence organization and has not, as far as I know, actually determined the number of Black Water personnel (if any) in Islamabad.

The sensational claims of the JUI-F leader do fit with the general tone and political stance of The Nation, but they are not a subjective opinion open for debate. If The Nation would like to only be a political propaganda paper, then it should advertise truthfully as such.

Individuals can have an open and honest debate about whether or not foreign security contractors should be allowed to operate in Pakistan. This is a good topic for opinion pages and editorials. What is not open to debate, however, is the number – if any – of foreign security contractors actually in the country. This is an objective fact that is verifiable with proper research. The Nation failed to do their jounralistic duty and conduct any investigative research to verify the politician’s claims. Instead, they simply repeated what the politician said with no question.

If our media is going to serve the public and be a service to our democracy, they are going to have to do more than repeat the unverified claims of politicians and conspiracy theorists. Investigative research and fact checking is hard work, but it is a vital part of a healthy news media. This is a lesson The Nation still needs to learn.

Shireen Mazari Exposed In New Article

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

We mentioned last week that a new article exposing Shireen Mazari was being published by her former American colleague that adds further embarrassment for The Nation and making the Pakistan media as a whole look foolish in the eyes of the world. Finally we have received a copy of the article, and are providing it below.

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Shireen Mazari: Ann Coulter of Pakistan

Friday, December 25th, 2009

The coming article about Shireen Mazari is a real eye-opener. “Slander: Meet the Ann Coulter of Pakistan”, paints a quite unflattering picture of a friendless, bitter, paranoid old woman who sees spies and enemies everywhere.  People like this are not uncommon. We see them in markets every day. Shireen Mazari is different, though, because she has a platform in the national media.

Here’s a sneak peek:

IN LATE AUGUST, a couple of weeks after a U.S. drone strike incinerated Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, the country’s most popular televised chat show, “Capital Talk,” hosted a panel to discuss national security. Among the guests was a squat, middle-aged woman with short black hair, streaked with silver dye, named Shireen Mazari. A defense analyst and public intellectual, Mazari is known for her hawkish nationalism–and deep suspicions of India and the United States. Her presence in the studio suggested that, despite the enormous threat her country faced from homegrown terrorists, the conversation that night wouldn’t center around Mehsud or the Pakistani Taliban.

Instead, over the course of the next half hour, the panel discussed reports that Blackwater, the North Carolina-based defense contractor that recently changed its name to Xe Services, was operating in Pakistan. Hamid Mir, the host of “Capital Talk,” showed video footage of Islamabad’s most expensive neighborhoods, featuring multi-story villas with high walls and satellite dishes. The homes looked like any other on the street. But red arrows, superimposed on the screen, pointed to allegedly incriminating electrical generators and surveillance cameras perched atop the walls. “American undercover people are coming,” Mazari said. “They are renting homes, and Blackwater is providing security, running death squads and assassination squads … It is an occupation, by default.”

Mazari’s hunt for American spies and undercover defense contractors was only getting started. In September, she was named editor of The Nation, an English-language daily often described as “Fox News in Pakistan.” (Earlier this year, one columnist dubbed Mazari the “Ann Coulter of Pakistan.”) Throughout the fall, The Nation has published multiple front-page stories on the location of new “Blackwater dens” around Islamabad. It featured a news story last month titled “MYSTERIOUS US NATIONALS,” which described “two suspicious foreigners wandering in the guise of journalists … [who] seemingly belonged to the US spy agency CIA.” The proof? That they “were driven towards the US Consulate.” (The “mysterious US nationals” turned out to be an English freelance photographer and an Australian photographer who works for Getty.)

Later in the article, even Mazari’s fellow journalists say that she had gone over the edge and that since she has become editor of The Nation, the reporting in that newspaper has gone crazy. How crazy? So much that Taliban is using it as propaganda.

In the end, this article is really quite sad. Mazari is exposed as a pathetic figure. A paranoid woman filled with delusional fantasies that just never quite seem to work out when people check the facts. All Americans are spies. Anyone who disagrees with her is working for the spies. In fact, it is easy to come away from this article an imagine Shireen Mazari locked in her own kitchen with the lights off, having thrown out the cook for being a spy. Perhaps the rice was overcooked a bit too much. Is it a secret plot against her?

Stay tuned, dear readers, as this story unfolds. It promises to be quite juicy!