Posts Tagged ‘ISPR’

US Refutes Express Tribune Article, ISPR stays mum

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Express Tribune reported on Monday that the US is ready to give control of three Afghan provinces to Haqqani militants if they promise to stop supporting the Afghan Taliban. The claim is based on the statements of an anonymous ‘senior American military official’. According to the anonymous source, the Haqqanis are nearly invincible as both Pakistan military and US military are both helpless against them.

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The top US military official acknowledged that the Haqqani network was posing a real threat to the Nato/Isaf mission in Afghanistan. “The Taliban use IEDs but the Haqqanis have the ability and capability to cause the maximum damage to the foreign forces in Afghanistan,” he said.

Unlike the public position, the US official candidly admitted that Pakistan’s reluctance to go after the Haqqani network was linked to its fear of a strong backlash and not necessarily because it considers the group as its proxy.

“Pakistan can hurt the Haqqanis but General (Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani is reluctant to target them because he is worried about reprisal attacks,” he said.

Spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan Brig Gen Stephen Twitty released a statement rejecting the report immediately.

“Assertions made in an article today in The Express Tribune that the United States is willing to cede Afghan territory as part of a rapprochement with the Haqqani network and that the U.S. sees the Haqqani Network playing an ‘…important role in the future political dispensation of Afghanistan,’ are categorically false.

“These comments, attributed to ‘a senior American military official’ are inconsistent with U.S. policy.  Further, only the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has the authority to take political steps on behalf of the Afghan people.”

ISPR has issued no comment on the article’s claim.

Hidden Hands in Pak Media

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

MI

A flurry of interesting pieces have begun to appear in the media today, all reporting about a secret meeting between DG ISI Shuja Pasha and Mansoor Ijaz in a London hotel room last month. While PMW is in no place to question the information presented in the news reports, we are troubled by many of the questions raised about the origin of these reports, and what that says about the “news” we are being fed.

Newsweek Pakistan quotes a source “who was privy to the meeting”. What source would be privy to a meeting between DG ISI and Mansoor Ijaz in a London hotel, I wonder? Probably not room service. The News (Jang Group) says that its story is based on “highly classified information obtained by The News”.

Newsweek Pakistan‘s piece certainly contain one of the funniest lines in recent memory. According to the reporter, Fasih Ahmed, his source “spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of offending the general”. And what did he say that he was so worried may offend the General? “Pasha seemed like an intellectually-sound man and while he grimaced and looked shocked at times, he did not give away how he intended to proceed, if at all, with the information provided to him.” Was this “source” really worried that describing a General as “an intellectually-sound man” would be risky?

PMW does not have access to “highly classified information”, nor do we have access to any sources with access to DG ISI’s private meetings in London hotel rooms (or anywhere else, for that matter). So we cannot comment on whether these reports are factually correct. We only comment on them here to raise the question of whether these news reports are based on information provided by a neutral source, or if they are provided by state agencies themselves.

If a neutral source has access to the DG ISI’s private meetings, we as a nation should be quite worried about our national security. On the other hand, if the agencies are providing the information to reporters themselves, why not do so openly?

ISPR is the official channel for communicating with the public. If the agencies are bypassing the official communication channels to provide information to reporters, it raises the question whether the intent of the leaked information is to inform or to influence. Provided the facts, we should be allowed to make up our own minds. We do not need hidden hands writing a script for us.

“No Information”

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

The News (Jang Group)Ansar Abbasi is back to his old tricks on Friday with an article for The News, ‘Foreign Office has no information if any expelled US official is now back’. The title of Abbasi’s latest piece says it all: “no information”. Nevermind that he had no information, Ansar Abbasi can always rely on conspiracy theories and political attacks to meet his deadline.

In researching his story, Ansar Abbasi spoke to officials at ISPR and Foreign Office, none of whom gave the Jang Group yellow journalist the dirt that he desired.

While the ISPR did not respond to The News questions about the return of the US officials or regarding the president’s statement as quoted by the US congressmen, the Foreign Office when approached said that it has no information about the return of many of those US officials who had left the country early this year.

Ansar Abbasi was undeterred by his inability to get any damning evidence about a new invasion of American agents from legitimate sources, and turned to his old reliable friends, unnamed “informed sources”. Could it be these are the same unnamed sources that the judiciary has termed ‘incorrigible liars’? It is certainly telling that he did not even bother to name these as ‘official sources’.

After desperately writing paragraph after paragraph containing “no information”, Ansar Abbasi concludes his piece with an attack on the government completely unrelated to the rest of his article.

However, the Gilani regime that is known worldwide for corruption and bad governance has yet to show any sign of improvement. Instead the state institutions are fast collapsing amid unconfirmed reports that the organisations like PIA are being deliberately pushed to death to pave the way for the launching of a new airlines to be owned by some top rulers and possibly named as Indus Airlines.

Even this unrelated conspiracy is based on “unconfirmed reports”. It seems that Ansar Abbasi cannot get anyone to provide any evidence for any of his conspiracy theories. Of course, none of this would be a problem if Ansar Abbasi would conduct objective research and report facts rather than inventing conspiracies and reporting anonymous rumours.

Despite having no information to report, The News published Abbasi’s piece at the top of page 2 as ‘National News’.

Journalism and Agency Managed Media

Friday, October 28th, 2011

The thin line between journalism and managed media was pointed out by Ejaz Haider in his column for Pakistan Today, ‘Journalism or Jabberwocky‘. Writing about a recent BBC report claiming that ISI is training and arming Taliban, Ejaz points out that, wait, the entire investigation was managed by Afghanistan’s spy agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS). “How could the BBC ensure the veracity of its story when the primary facilitator for it was the NDS”. This is not to say that the BBC report is inaccurate or accurate, it is just to say that when the information is provided by an intelligence agency, journalists should look for neutral sources who can verify the information, recognising that intelligence agencies have specific agendas that they are charged with promoting, none of which are ‘good journalism’. As Ejaz Haider notes, the response denying the BBC‘s claims by ISPR does not help much either. “How should I treat this statement, as gospel?”, Ejaz asks. “I can’t. It is the general’s job to defend the Pakistani military and the ISI.”

This is an underlying problem with much of the information we are presented by media today. How much of it actual journalism, and how much is actually media carefully managed by intelligence agencies of one nation or another? Without knowing who is the man behind the message, we, the public, are left in the dark.

If only our own media was held to the same standard

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Geo TV report quotes DG ISPR Major General Athar Abbas criticising The New York Times for unsubstantiated reports based on anonymous sources “without any concrete evidence”. According to the official ISPR press release, Gen Abbas gave the following statement:

‘In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in reexamining the claims as new evidence emerged-or failed to emerge’.
The Military Spokesman further said: “if the newspaper continues with its vilifying campaign without any concrete evidence, I am afraid at some point it may end up expressing its deep regret the way it did in the case of its Iraq coverage.

Pakistan Media Watch agrees with DG ISPR that it is unacceptable for media groups to allow controversial and questionable information that is insufficiently qualified to stand unchallenged. We further agree that concrete evidence is a necessary requirement of proper reporting.

Pakistan Media Watch looks forward to our own media adopting this same standard.