Posts Tagged ‘Imran Khan’

Inappropriate from any perspective

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)Last week one of the PMW team Tweeted about an article published by The News and Daily Jang as ‘National News’. The piece referred to was written by Abdur Rehman Bawa whose Khatm-e-Nubuwwat is an Anti-Ahmadiyya group. Leaving aside for the purposes of this post the question of whether it is appropriate for a media group (certainly one of Jang‘s influence) to publish articles against one religious group or another, the fact that the editors published the piece as ‘National News’ was entirely inappropriate. If the piece belonged in a reputable newspaper at all (which we do not support), it would only be appropriately published as an ‘Opinion’.

By publishing the piece as ‘National News’, Jang blurs the line between opinion and fact. This was demonstrated by the reactions we received to the Tweet, many of which supported Jang‘s decision to publish the piece as ‘News’ claiming that it is a factual report on the 7th September 1974 constitutional amendment that declared Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslims. But this is not what the article was about. The author included several statements in his piece that defy not only reason, but are obviously given with the intention of provoking hatred. Why else would he include in his piece the claim that “even if a small child of a Muslim dies, a Qadiani would never offer his funeral prayer” or that “Qadiani conspiracies” resulted in their poor treatment. We will not dignify the Mullah’s piece with any more attention – this is already more than it deserves – except to say that there is simply no way to justify the publication of this piece as ‘National News’.

It is also worth noting that this problem is not an isolated incident, but part of a larger pattern of poor editorial judgment at Jang. The day after the anti-Ahmadiyya piece was published, The News published two more pieces as ‘National News’ that were clearly opinion pieces.

One by controversial American linguist Noam Chomsky was given the headline, ‘Why America and Israel are the greatest threats to peace’. Whether or not one agrees with Mr Chomsky’s assertions, the unavoidable fact is that the piece presents Chomsky’s personal views on issues, not verifiable facts. This is even acknowledged in the piece itself as it includes certain passages like the following:

If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability — this is still unknown to the US intelligence — that may be because it is “inspired to do so” by the US-Israeli threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the UN Charter.

“If”…”may be”…this is the opinion of Mr Chomsky, not ‘News’. And nowhere in the piece is Pakistan mentioned at all. So how did it come to be published as ‘National News’?

Could it be that the piece was published because it seemed to give a black eye to the Americans for one of their own celebrity academics to make such claims as that they are one of ‘the greatest threats to peace’? Possibly. If so, the editors may want to do a little more research before giving too much praise to Mr Chomsky as he has also termed Pakistan as “the paradigm example of a failed state and has been for a long time”, telling AAJ TV that the nation “is in danger of collapsing”.

It’s not just anti-Ahmadiyya or anti-America opinion pieces that are being published by Jang as ‘National News’. Also on Saturday the same media group published a piece by PPP Leader and Former Central Secretary Information ARD Munir Ahmad Khan that carried the headline, ‘Nation must salute political sagacity of Zardari’. This piece reads like a PPP campaign rally speech, not an objective news report.

Could it be that Khan’s piece was given special treatment after The News published another piece of ‘National News’ on 27th August which claimed:

“the incumbent Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government has not only failed miserably to check the ever-soaring inflationary pressures on the public, but has also found itself all at sea when it comes to restoring law and order, resolving the grave energy crisis or in curing the ills plaguing the economy”.

And then returned again the very next day to ‘report’ that:

The period marred by mega corruption scams, sky-rocketing inflation, dismal governance, court defiance, terrorism, worsening law and order, grave energy crisis and ailing economy has haunted Pakistan during these last 1,615 days.

Whatever one’s personal opinion of the PPP or the incumbent government, this is obviously a personal opinion, not a ‘National News’ report.

Neither is the incumbent government the only party to be the subject of a political opinion being published by Jang as ‘National News’. Last month the same media group published a piece by former Information Secretary PTI Punjab Andleeb Abbas who sings the praises of Imran Khan. Once again the question remains why Jang published this as ‘National News’ and not ‘Opinion’?

On any given day, a newspaper will carry different types of articles. Each of these – news, opinion, business, sport, leisure – are carried on their own pages so that readers do not, for example, confuse the opinion of a political worker or religious extremist with the factual reports that inform them about the country and the world. By blurring the line between ‘news’ and ‘opinion’, Jang risks leaving its readers confused and misinformed about the world, and therefore more likely to make decisions based on false or misleading information. The perspective of the opinion piece doesn’t matter – it is inappropriate to publish opinions as news. And that’s a fact.

Ansar Abbasi Twists Facts, History In Defence of Militants

Monday, August 20th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)In his latest piece for The News (Jang Group), Ansar Abbasi requests “home-grown solutions to Talibanisation” – something many people would probably agree with. Unfortunately, he then goes on to spread a mixture of misinformation and pro-militancy which undermines his original thesis, suggesting that Ansar Abbasi’s “solution” to Talibanisation is actually to embrace it.

Abbasi begins his piece by saying “It is high time to seriously look for a home grown solution and hear what the likes of Imran Khan say.” PTI chief Imran Khan has gained fame for his demands to withdraw support for the fight against terrorists including those located in North Waziristan. But Imran Khan has not stopped there. In addition to calling on an end to support for US efforts against militant groups, he has also called for an end to militant groups in Pakistan. Imran Khan told Barkha Dutt on NDTV that Pakistan should eliminate all militant groups in the country:

Imran Khan: No country should ever allow any militant groups within. That’s true. And I believe that whenever Pakistan gets out of this war on terror, the first thing it should do is de-weaponise. There should be no militants operating in Pakistan – whether they are ethnic, whether they are religious, whether they are sectarian.

Barkha Dutt: Including groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba that India, I know, has the most concerns about; or the Jaish-e-Mohammad?

Imran Khan: No militant groups should ever be allowed to function in a state. Because you will eventually suffer because of that.

Ansar Abbasi also terms the militant group of Jalaluddin Haqqani as “pro-Pakistan Haqqani Network”. According to Abbasi, following the advice of Imran Khan and de-weaponising and de-banding militant groups like the Haqqani Network “would mean turning Haqqanis against Pakistan and thus forcing them to join TTP’s campaign against Pakistan”.

What Abbasi fails to explain, however, is why a “pro-Pakistan” militant group is sitting on the sidelines and allowing TTP to carry out attacks against Pakistanis? If the Haqqani Network is truly “pro-Pakistan”, shouldn’t they be fighting against TTP in North Waziristan where both have camps?

And is not just Haqqanis that Ansar Abbasi believes are “pro-Pakistan”. Later he suggests that Taliban and even al Qaeda are pro-Pakistan groups. Abbasi’s reasoning is that al Qaeda leaders were unhappy with TTP’s actions, therefore they must not be enemies of Pakistan.

The TTP’s indiscriminate attacks against Muslims caused two al-Qaeda leaders Atiyyatullah and Abu Yahya al-Libi to write to TTP leader Hakimullah Mahsud to express their displeasure with the group’s “ideology, methods and behaviour”. They also threatened to take public measures unless they saw from TTP serious and immediate practical and clear steps towards reforming its ways and dissociating itself from these vile mistakes that violate Islamic Law, the media report said.

But disagreements between ideology and action do not mean that militant groups are enemies, and disagreements between militant groups definitely do not imply that one or another group is not the enemy of some third party. Actually, al Qaeda has a long history of expressing unhappiness with the actions of allied terror groups including its own lieutenants. Documents found in Osama bin Laden’s hideout that was raided last year indicate that al Qaeda was not frustrated with TTP only, but also with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and the al Shahbab group in Somalia. Al Qaeda leaders have even had internal fights in which they warned each other against “ideology, methods and behaviour” that they did not agree on. The most famous of these internal fights was between al Qaeda leaders Atiyah and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

A top al-Qaida official warned Abu Musab al-Zarqawi six months before he was killed by a U.S. airstrike that he would be removed as the terror group’s head in Iraq if he did not consult with the group’s leadership on major issues.

An al-Qaida leader named “Atiyah” cautioned al-Zarqawi in an 11-page letter against the war he had declared on Shiite Muslims.

The letter also criticized attacks the Iraqi branch had carried out in neighboring countries — an apparent reference to last year’s triple suicide attacks on hotels in the Jordanian capital of Amman that killed dozens.

Ansar Abbasi not only makes excuses for al Qaeda and other terror groups, he also repeats disproven conspiracy theories. Abbasi says the US “has established a net-work of Raymond Davis like agents within Pakistan”, but he fails to note that actually Pakistan kicked out 331 US officials suspected of being engaged in espionage over one year ago. Abbasi asks “who protects and feeds the anti-Pakistan Taliban in Kunar, Afghanistan”? But he does not ask who protects and feeds the anti-Pakistan Taliban in North Waziristan, in Karachi, and in Lahore. Neither does Abbasi mention that US Gen James N Mattis, Mattis, Commander of United States’ Central Command (Centcom) and COAS Gen Kayani consider TTP a “common enemy” or that TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a US drone strike.

The Investigative Editor of Jang Group has continually expressed his sympathies with al Qaeda, Hizb-ut-Tahrir and other extremist groups, so this is nothing really new. Ansar Abbasi is entitled to his opinion that supports al Qaeda and Taliban militants, but he is not entitled to twist facts and history in order to justify his sympathies.

یہاں پگڑی اچھلتی ھے- نزیر ناجی

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

پاکستان میڈیا واچ کی ٹیم اپنے قارین کی توجہ نزیر ناجی صاحب کے روزنامہ جنگ کے کالم کی جانب کروانا چاھتی ھے۔ اگرچہ پاکستان میڈیا واچ کسی بھی سیاسی پارٹی کی طرف داری کی حامی نھیں لیکن اس کالم میں کی گئی چند باتیں قابل غور ھیں۔

Nazeer NajiNazeer NajiNazeer Naji

Pakistan Media Criticised For Misrepresenting US Ambassador

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Appearing as guest on Capital Talk with Hamid Mir on Geo TV (Jang Group), US Ambassador Cameron Munter rejected a report in Pakistan media claiming that he has written a report to Washington stating that Imran Khan will sweep the next elections. The American diplomat says that this is a problem with Pakistan’s media and he wishes the journalist would have contacted him first before misleading the people.

It is also worth noting here that the following day, the US Embassy termed an editorial of The News (Jang Group) about the outgoing US Ambassador as “lots of nonsense”.

US Embassy Terms The News Editorial "Lots of Nonsense"

Is Imran Khan victim of a media vendetta?

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Writing for Express Tribune‘s ‘Media Watchdog’ blog, Corporate Solicitor Zain Umar claims that the newspaper has a ‘Goebbel’s vendetta’ against Imran Khan. After equating The Express Tribune to the Nazi propaganda minister in the very first sentence, he goes on lambast the newspaper for allegedly “publishing literally anything against Imran Khan” while “not a single write up of his is devoid of barbed shafts aimed at Imran Khan”. This is an increasingly common claim – that Imran Khan and PTI are the victims of media bias. But is this true?

It’s certainly not true for Express Tribune‘s official Blogs where it took no effort to find pieces by multiple authors who support Imran Khan and believe PTI will be a formidable force in the next elections.

News reports in Express Tribune also include positive pieces about PTI, including some that uncritically quote Imran Khan about his party’s own exceptionalism. There are even multimedia shows about PTI.

Even editorials on Imran Khan are balanced, neither supporting nor opposing. It’s hard to consider lines like, “he will have to be taken seriously and his party’s electoral fortunes will most probably be far better than they have been in the past” as a ‘Goebbel’s vendetta’. So why do Zain Umar and many others like him believe that the media is targeting Imran Khan?

According to Imran Khan, the reason is Jews.

For those who do not understand Urdu, please allow me to explain. In this clip, Wajahat S Khan asks Imran Khan whether “the honeymoon is over” between the media and PTI since it seems that he is no longer dominating front pages as he did last year. Imran Khan begins to reply that he is fighting against two governments – the national government and the provincial government, both of which have large advertising budgets. Wajahat clarifies that he’s not talking about advertising, he’s talking about news stories. Imran Khan then replies that the problem is that the ‘Jewish lobby’ controls the global media. Wajahat reacts in disbelief, telling Imran Khan, “Don’t go there…” which shocks the PTI Chairman who doesn’t understand how someone can’t believe that the world’s media – including, apparently, The News (Jang Group), which Wajahat is holding in his hand – is part of a Jewish conspiracy against him.

Like most conspiracy theories, this one, too is made from fantasy and not fact. There may be some Jews who own some media groups in the world (Israel, for example), but there are also many Christians (The New York Times) and Muslims (The News/Jang) as well as people of many other religions as well. The fear that Imran Khan is the victim of a ‘Goebbel’s vendetta’ by the editors of Express Tribune is similarly fictitious, as is clear from the fact that the paper has regularly published pieces that were favourable to PTI and Imran Khan. Mr Umar can relax.

Mubasher Lucman’s Social Media Campaign

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

A few months ago we warned Shahid Masood and Azeem Mian that Mubasher Lucman had entered the race for PTI Media Advisor and taken the contest to a whole new level. It seems that with the government’s troubles and PTI’s rising popularity, Mr lucman has stepped up his campaign using a popular PTI format – social media.

While not a prolific Twitter user, Mubasher Lucman has over the past 24 hours been quite active. The TV host notes that he is “not in politics”, but then also posts the following question about PML-N’s governance of Punjab:

Mubasher Lucman on PML-N

Now, this is a fair question for a journalist – are you satisfied with governance during recent years. But his question takes on a different meaning when read alongside his following Tweets about PML-N’s competitor, PTI:

Mubasher Lucman on Imran Khan

Mubasher Lucman on Imran Khan 2

and in case you had any doubt how Lucman saheb really feels…

Mubasher Lucman really loves Imran Khan

Mubasher Lucman really loves Imran Khan

But Mubasher Lucman does not stop at merely praising Imran Khan, he also makes a prediction about the outcome of the next elections:

Mubasher Lucman on how Imran Khan will win

That’s right. If Imran Khan doesn’t win, it’s because the election was rigged. Why even bother with elections, we wonder? Mubasher Lucman has already decided for us.

But his undying support for Imran Khan is not the only way that Mubasher Lucman is “not in politics”. Here’s his unbiased analysis of the ‘memogate’ case:

Mubasher Lucman on Memogate

All the evidence that it requires to what? Obviously all the evidence that it requires to decide the case, but with his next Tweet, the Dunya TV host makes us wonder whether the Supreme Court is even necessary since Mubasher Lucman has already decided who are “the corrupt few”. It is also telling that Lucman describes the current Supreme Court hearings as a “crusade”, and not an objective inquiry.

Mubasher Lucman is “not in politics” in so far as he has never been elected by anyone to anything. But he has also clearly inserted himself into politics by actively campaigning for his selected favourites and terming anyone he disagrees with (or just doesn’t like) as “corrupt”. That’s what political operatives do. It’s not journalism.

The News Attacks Imran Khan

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The News (Jang Group)An article of Mariana Baabar of The News on Friday continues Jang Group‘s bad habit of lobbing senseless attacks against politicians based on nothing but personal animosity and political bias. The article in question, ‘Imran meets Munter, Raphel at PTII secretariat’, discusses a private meeting between Chairman PTI Imran Khan and American Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter and senior adviser to Mark Grossman, Special Representative of US President on Pakistan-Afghanistan, Robin Raphel. But rather than report on the facts of the meeting, Mariana Baabar instead takes the opportunity to insult the PTI chief and inject an air of conspiracy about the meeting.

According to the report, Imran Khan was “extremely insecure” and acted in “dictatorial fashion” simply because he met with the American officials privately. The reporter compares Imran Khan’s behaviour to former dictator Gen Musharraf saying that “there is no record anywhere about his various meetings with the world leaders as he kept everyone out, including the note taker” without considering the statement of PTI Information Secretary Shafqat Mehmood that even though he was unaware of the meeting maybe it was the case that Imran Khan did not have time to gather a team. Instead, the reporter quotes Shireen Mazari saying that she asked to attend but was told by Imran Khan that it was a private meeting between himself and the Americans, but the reporter did not note that Shireen Mazari has been unhappy with PTI for some time.

Baabar goes on to ask “will Pakistanis now have to rely on WikiLeaks to know what transpired at the PTI central secretariat on Thursday?” Why should anyone rely on WikiLeaks to know what transpired? Why doesn’t the reporter simply call Imran Khan and his spokesman and ask for a briefing. Or is the reporter, without even trying to learn the facts, already assuming that Imran Khan is a liar?

Whether Imran Khan chooses to take his senior advisors to a meeting or whether he chooses to go alone is a party matter. It may be newsworthy that the PTI chief is holding secret meetings with American officials, but the responsibility of a journalist covering such a story is to carry out careful fact checking and investigative work to get to the bottom of a story, not attack the politician and create an aura of conspiracy.

Ansar Abbasi, wannabe political advisor, gives himself away

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

The News (Jang Group)Ansar Abbasi is at it again with a front page column in The News (Jang Group) that offers little more than Abbasi’s personal frustration that PTI and PML-N are not joining forces against the present government. Having utterly ceased to even pretend to be a journalist, Ansar Abbasi is now fantasizing that he is political advisor to Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif. But in his advice to the opposition leaders, Ansar gives himself away.

Abbasi’s would-be political advice is especially humorous given Imran’s recent successes drawing crowds exceeding 100,000 to his jalsa in Lahore and showing legitimate growth in his party’s support since disappointing showings in past elections. Nevermind the facts, Ansar Abbasi is angry that “PTI leaders are more interested in the alleged corruption cases of Nawaz Sharif”. Abbasi is further enraged that “Imran Khan and his party did not issue any statement in support of the Supreme Court” despite the fact that later in the column he even admits that “The PTI’s spokesman Umar Cheema instead said that it was the PTI that had demanded in the very beginning to establish a commission under the Supreme Court to probe the matter”.

Meanwhile, Ansar Abbasi is also angry at Nawaz Sharif and his PML-N for focusing on allegations that “Khan’s siblings and other relatives are drawing heavy salaries from donations” to Shaukat Khanum and questions about “a residential plot allotted to the PTI chief by the then chief minister and incumbent PML-N chief on the former’s request”.

It seems that Ansar Abbasi is proposing his own NRO in which all allegations against political leaders should be set aside so long as they agree to attack the government. To begin, Ansar Abbasi would have Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif stop questioning each other and instead take the strategy of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, even though both political leaders appear to know better what they are doing than Ansar Abbasi. More to the point, it appears that Ansar Abbasi is not actually interested in the success of either PTI or PML-N, but simply takes the position of “the enemy of the government is my friend”. Obviously, this raises serious concerns both about Ansar Abbasi’s ability to provide objective, fact-based reporting and analysis and also whether Jang Group is pursuing a political agenda in giving someone like Ansar Abbasi front page coverage to air his personal opinions.

Is media playing favourites?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Meher Bokhari and Imran Khan

We’re all well aware of just how vicious the media can be, especially when it comes to politics. Whoever is in power at the time will always suffer the greatest number of attacks, but even opposition politicians are not usually spared the venom of our talk show hosts and their guests. So when a politician is given soft treatment, it’s hard not to notice.

Writing for The Express Tribune, Ayesha Ijaz Khan, a lawyer and political commentator, had noticed that the media appears to be giving the soft touch to Imran Khan.

The electronic media has undoubtedly played a large part in introducing Imran Khan as a political option. On some talk shows, Imran is a regular, appearing at least a couple of times every month. However, the frequent appearances notwithstanding, the PTI still remains an enigma in the minds of many viewers. With a few exceptions, notably an excellent “Hard Talk”- style interview conducted by Iftikhar Ahmad on “Jawab Deyh” (October 2, 2011), most talk show hosts end up chit-chatting drawing room style with Imran, allowing him to talk big on generalisations but omitting to grill him on any specific plans.

And unlike the generalisations that are being allowed to pass in some channels, Ayesha provides specifics.

Shortly after his successful Lahore rally, Imran appeared on Nasim Zehra’s “Policy Matters” (November 5, 2011). To the anchor’s credit, she had researched Imran’s declaration of assets, but when she questioned him on the discrepancy between the present market value of Imran’s assets and the far lower purchase value disclosed on the return, he dismissed her question altogether, choosing to lecture us instead on accounting principles, Imran-style. As the conversation progressed to his China trip, the fluffiness of Imran’s responses became even more apparent. When he spoke of China pulling millions out of poverty, Ms Zehra agreed, as would most of us, that this is an enormous accomplishment. But there were no follow-up questions when Imran claimed that Pakistan could use the Chinese model. How, I wondered, would Pakistan apply the Chinese model? China has certainly made giant economic strides but would these have been possible without its strict one-child policy? Hasn’t China also severely curbed religious practice and democracy? Are these measures possible, or even advisable, in Pakistan?

When some people agree to appear on talk shows, they know they will be taking a beating. Others are treated with respect to their face, only to be skewered the following night when they are not there to defend themselves. It is the rare politician who is given the soft treatment both on the air and off. We do not take a position on whether or not Imran Khan or his PTI deserve support, but we do take a position on whether the media should treat some politicians differently than others based on their own political preferences and personal biases.

The News, or PR for Rent?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

The News (Jang Group)Reporting on Imran Khan’s rally has taken many forms. From the varying estimates of the crowd’s numbers which easily give away a journalist’s political leanings, to the thinly-veiled giddiness of Hamid Mir, to The Nation‘s tasking Imran with “declaring his own assets first”, many of the media reactions to Imran Khan’s rally on Sunday were to be expected. One piece, though, stands out for mention.

In Monday’s issue of The News (Jang Group), an article appeared with the title, ‘Imran Khan has the calculus’. The piece paints Imran as a ‘statesman’ with ‘a wise head on his shoulders’ and describes him as ‘exposing the President and his team’. In fact, the piece was a laudatory hymn to Imran’s speech the day before. All of this would be expected on the Opinion page, but this piece, once again, appeared on page 5 as ‘National News’. True, the piece was labeled as ‘News Analysis’, but here is where things take a turn for the strange – this ‘analysis’ was credited to ‘our correspondent’.

Who was this ‘correspondent’ that wrote such a glowing praise of Imran’s appearance? Readers are not let to know. This appears to be an additional step of The News that not only moves opinion pieces into the news sections, but now even leaves them unsigned so that readers cannot even judge the credibility of the author. How are we to know if this piece was written by a staff reporter, a political scientist, or a PTI media advisor? Was this a legitimate ‘news analysis’ by a neutral analyst, or a press release from PTI’s Punjab office?

There is nothing wrong with providing analysis to help readers get a broad view of current events. But this is what opinion pages are for. Presently, The News has two pages that are correctly labeled as ‘Opinion’, but apparently it is not enough since we have seen blatant opinions bearing the labels ‘commentary’ and ‘analysis’ creeping into the regular news sections. Now, Jang Group editors are not even bothering to give the name of the author. Recently, we saw similar bias in The News for Islami Jamiat Talaba (JIT). If The News is willing to print paeans to whatever party is presently holding events, one might ask if The News is a newspaper of professional journalism or a newspaper for rent.