Posts Tagged ‘Jang Group’

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.

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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.

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.

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 Fearmongering Misrepresents Facts

Friday, September 7th, 2012

The News (Jang Group)Ansar Abbasi had a sensational piece featured on the front page of The News on Thursday which claims that ’850,000 US spies given clearance WP reveals that growth of agents has gone beyond all bounds since 9/11 incident’. This is a shocking revelation. It’s also not true.

Ansar Abbasi’s investigative research is based on his apparently just now discovering an investigation published in The Washington Post over two years ago. That research, conducted by more than 20 journalists “describes the huge national security buildup in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks”. It does not report that the US employs 850,000 spies. Neither does it mention “265,000 contractors like Raymond Davis”.

What the article did report is that “An estimated 854,000 people…hold top-secret security clearances”. The Washington Post divided top-secret work into 23 different categories that include intelligence, but also include:

  • Border control
  • Building and personal security
  • Counter-drug operations
  • Disaster preparedness
  • Facilities management and maintenance
  • Law enforcement
  • Management and administration
  • Staffing and personnel

If we are to believe Ansar Abbasi, “normal administrative human resource functions” and “construction associated with…fencing and barriers” is the work of ‘spies’.

Obviously some of the estimated 850,000 people with ‘top secret’ clearance are spies, but hardly all of them. In fact, Ansar Abbasi has no idea how many are really spies, or what fraction of those have any connection with Pakistan. This is probably because that was not the subject of The Washington Post report, which is more concerned with the growth of American defence spending and the American government using war time monitoring techniques to monitor its own people. In other words, American investigative journalists are conducting careful research to hold their own government and military accountable. Instead of doing something similar, Ansar Abbasi misrepresents their findings to weave a conspiracy against Pakistan out of thin air.

If Ansar Abbasi had conducted more research into his subject, he might have easily discovered another report in The Washington Post which quotes the American spy chief revealing that “the United States intelligence community comprises almost 100,000…Americans in 16 federal departments and agencies”. We checked with a Maths professor and he confirmed that “almost 100,000″ is over 8 times less than “almost 850,000″. It is also worth noting that, despite being concerned with the number of American spies operating in Pakistan, Ansar Abbasi’s investigative research failed to discover the following:

  • In March 2011, ‘as many as 331 US officials, most of whom are suspected of being engaged in espionage under diplomatic cover, have been identified to leave the country’
  • In June 2011, ‘Ninety of the 135 US service personnel training Pakistan’s Frontier Corps have left the country after Islamabad officials said they had “reassessed our requirements”.
  • In December 2011, ‘the Central Intelligence Agency has vacated an air base in western Pakistan that it had been using for drone strikes against militants in the country’s tribal areas’.
  • In September 2012, ‘Pakistan has given foreigners working for Save the Children a week to leave the country after becoming convinced that the aid organisation was used as cover by US spies hunting Osama bin Laden.’

If anything, the number of US spies in Pakistan appears to be decreasing. Unfortunately, readers of Ansar Abbasi’s column in The News would not know that.

The News Includes Editorial Cartoon In News Story

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

A World News report in The News (Jang Group) on the ongoing saga of the status of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who has taken refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London includes an image of the central figure with his mouth gagged by an American flag and surrounded by the words ‘courage’ and ‘truth’ giving the impression that the US is silencing Julian Assange who represents those virtues. Such an image – one that makes political or judgmental comment on an issue – is known as an ‘editorial cartoon’ and is properly published on the opinion pages of a newspaper. Actually, The News regularly publishes an editorial cartoon on page 6, which is entirely appropriate. Including an editorial cartoon with a news report, however, in appropriately injects an opinion into what is otherwise a factual news report. If The News believes that the US is attempting to silence Julian Assange, they could legitimately publish this cartoon on the opinion page, but it does not belong on the news pages.

Editorial cartoon injected in news report