On 18 May, Ansar Abbasi wrote a piece for The News that claimed “the military establishment have moved to thwart the will of parliament by feeding the media with distorted information”.
In fact, another journalist – Omar Waraich – noted in a piece for the American news magazine TIME that the military was holding closed-door briefings with select journalists to manage the way the Abbottabad raid was being discussed.
After three days of sedulous silence on the matter, the military and intelligence leadership on Thursday shared its perspective on the Abbottabad debacle with a select group of senior Pakistani journalists – no foreign news media were invited. The rare closed-door briefing was prompted by a desire to challenge an emerging global narrative that incriminated Pakistan’s security establishment in bin-Laden’s ability to elude capture, according to some of those present.
The day after his first piece claiming interference with reporters, The News carried another piece by Abbasi that claims that the military is telling media to “stop exaggerating the crisis” and fanning the flames of anti-Americanism. This request ran counter to Ansar Abbasi’s own political agenda, though, since he has termed America as the nation’s number one enemy. So Abbasi used his column to debate with the military by saying that despite military’s call for unity, “None of the Pakistani authorities discussed with Kerry how the so-called war on terror is in friction with the faith of the Muslims, including Pakistanis”.
Following this week’s attack on PNS Mehran, Ansar Abbasi has changed his tune on military influence of media. Now Ansar Abbasi is back to quoting unnamed “sources in the military establishment” who supposedly have concerns that the attack in Karachi is part of a conspiracy to de-nuclearise Pakistan.
Alarm bells have started ringing in Pakistan’s security establishment with the latest terrorist attack at the PNS Mehran in Karachi, with many fearing that as part of any so-called “Great game”, a sponsored “terrorist attack” could be launched on any of the country’s nuclear sites to pave the way for a UN (read US) takeover of our nuke sites.
As the nation looks to understand events affecting the national security, answers are contradictory and confusing. Unsure of the facts, people continue turning to conspiracy theories to understand what is happening around them. A truly independent media would help eliminate conspiracy theories and confusion by providing the people with facts rationally and objectively through investigative research and diligent reporting. Though we like to say we have a free and independent media, what we are seeing more and more is the media used as a pawn by different interests to promote their own individual agendas. The result: conspiracy theories and confusion flourish.
Whether it is Ansar Abbasi fanning the flames of anti-Americanism or “sources in the military establishment” directing journalists on how to write their reports, the independent media is exposed as a mere illusion. And the agenda not being promoted is that of the national interest.