Posts Tagged ‘اردو’

اب کس کی بات مانیں؟

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

آج کے جنگ اخبار کی سرخیاں  دیکھنے کے باد اس بات کا اندازہ ہوتا ہے کہ ہم پاکستانی صرف  وہ باتیں مانتے ہیں جو ہم ماننا چاہتے ہیں۔ آج  کی ایک سرخی نیچے ملاحذہ فرمایے

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اب ایک دوسری سرخی ملاحظہ  فرمائے جو کے اسی  صفہے کے کافی نیچے ہی چھاپی گئ

 

 

ان دونوں سرخیوں  سے اس بات کا صاف پتا چلتا ہے کہ جنگ گروپ کا عوام کے اس طراح ک خیالات تشکیل دینے میں ایک بڑا ہا تھ ھے۔ ایک طرف یے خبر ہے امریکی شمسی بیس چھوڑنا ہی نہیں چاہتے اور دوسری طرف یے خبر یے کے جرنل اباس صاف صاف کہ رہے ھیں کہ امریکی فوجی اپنا بوریا بستر سمیٹ کر جا چکے ھیں ۔ اور اب یے بیس آپریشنل نہیں ھے۔

 

سوال اب یے پیدا ھوتا ھے کہ پھلی خبر کو ایک بڑی سرخی اور دوسری کو صفحے کے نیچے ایک چھوٹی سرخی کی صورت کیوں دی گئ؟

Jang Group Promotes Sensational PNS Mehran Conspiracy Theory

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

A front page article in The News by Mayed Ali that claims to report on the assault on PNS Mehran on Sunday night, but after listing details about the combat radius and onboard radar of the destroyed Orion aircraft the reporter ventures into the land of Hollywood movie-style conspiracy plots.

However, it is believed, the exact info on the details of the complex, which is not visible otherwise, the hangar and the aircraft suggests the plan just cannot be a work of amateur terrorists. The way the entire mission was executed, the sources in Pakistan Navy believe, it seems some specialists must have worked on the plan quite extensively. Moreover, the ex-Navy officials were of the view it was an inside job, implying that someone from within had provided vital information to saboteurs for the mission. And, if the investigation zeroes in on the possibility of sabotage from outside, the RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), Mossad (Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations) or even the CIA (Central Investigation Agency) could be a suspect. Interestingly, in such a scenario, the US technicians, working on the new Orions, might have to be interrogated.

Notice that this conspiracy is pure speculation, which the reporter reveals through the careful use of conditional words such as “if” and “could be”. Actually, the initial claim of this conspiracy is not even attributed to an “official source”, rather the reporter simply claims that “it is believed…” Believed by who? We do not know.

The conspiracy blaming the PNS Mehran attack on CIA is particularly weak when one considers that premises that it is based on: Americans were on the base and knew the maintenance-cycle of the Orions. As Mayed Ali reports, there were seven Americans on the base. But there were eleven Chinese also, and as as the reporter also notes, “the attackers did not touch any other aircraft (Fokker) or helicopter (Chinese ZA-6) parked in the same vicinity”. Based on this information, one could just as easily speculate that the operation was carried out by Chinese intelligence to drive a wedge between America and Pakistan. Of course, if you believe this alternative conspiracy theory you would be just as foolish, for there is no evidence for this either.

Unfortunately, this is not the only article from Jang Group that promotes this baseless conspiracy theory. On page 2 of The News reporter Shakeel Anjum goes beyond his colleague’s pure speculation and quotes unnamed “senior intelligence sources” as saying that the attack was “accomplished by RAW certainly with the consent of CIA and a group of al-Qaeda”. Furthermore, according to this anonymous source, “a group of al-Qaeda and Taliban got training in a base camp of RAW in Afghanistan”.

Shakeel Anjum admits that the evidence is “circumstantial”, but even this requires readers to believe that any evidence exists at all. Obviously, none of this evidence is actually presented for readers to judge for themselves. Rather, they must accept the word of an unnamed “intelligence source” – not even an intelligence official.

But most important to consider is that believing this conspiracy theory requires that one believe the following statement: US, India, Taliban, and al Qaeda are all working together. In order for Jang‘s conspiracy theory to be true, you have to believe that extremist fundamentalist Islamists are conspiring with Hindu nationalists. You also have to believe that Taliban and al Qaeda are both fighting and killing American soldiers and also working with American soldiers.

Dawn reports that an officer-in-charge at the base who spoke with the militants described the attackers as speaking clear Urdu with a local accent. The same report details that the militants tried to kill the Americans on the base who were saved only by bullet proof vehicles. So now Jang Group‘s conspiracy requires us to believe that RAW trained al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan and taught them to speak clear Urdu with a Karachi accent. Then RAW and CIA sent these al Qaeda and Taliban militants to PNS Mehran with permission to kill Americans along with Pakistanis.

And while Jang Group published in its English language newspaper a front page story with a slightly more speculative tone and put the more sensational conspiracy on the second page, its Urdu newspaper Jang boldy proclaims the wild conspiracy theory as fact from the front page headlines.

25-5-2011-Daily-Jang

Following the past weeks attacks on the nation’s security forces, people are looking for answers. Government officials and military leaders are holding hearings and announcing investigations into security lapses. Rather than play its role as watch dog and ensuring that the hearings and investigations are carried out openly and honestly, media is spoon feeding the people sensational conspiracy theories that would embarrass a C-grade bollywood screenwriter.

Lage raho media bhai…

What do McDonalds, Tata Group, and Osama have in common?

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Express Tribune LogoYesterday we wrote about the two-faced reporting on Osama bin Laden coming from Jang Group‘s newspapers. But Jang Group is not the only media group that has been promoting one perspective in its English language media while projecting a sympathetic or pro-jihadi message in its Urdu publications.

On 4 May, Express Tribune published opinion pieces about Osama bin Laden by Pervez Hoodbhoy and Fasi Zaka.

Here’s what Fasi Zaka says about media treatment of Osama’s death:

I just don’t understand how our TV anchors are glib enough to justify calling Osama bin Laden a shaheed. The man had no regard for life, especially Muslim life. He engineered attacks on the West, so they would retaliate and kill Muslims en masse in their vengeance upon selected countries. Every Muslim was a pawn to his mad dreams.

Sadly, Fasi Zaka may want to talk to his own employer.

Daily ExpressAppearing on the same day in the group’s Urdu language newspaper Daily Express there appeared a piece by Abdul Qadir Hasan titled, “Shaheed Osama Kay Baad” – “After Shaheed Osama” – in which the author terms Osama as “the greatest martyr of the present age”. (Full English translation below)

Abdul Qadir Hasan – After Shaheed Osama article from Daily Express

Back in the English language Express Tribune, for the rest of the world to read, Pervez Hoodbhoy hopes that bin Laden’s death will end any double games of telling the world that we are fighting terrorism while secretly supporting it.

Bin Laden’s death should be regarded as a transformational moment by Pakistan and its military. It is time to dispense with the Musharraf-era cat and mouse games. We must repudiate the current policy of verbally condemning jihadism — and actually fighting it in some places — but secretly supporting it in other places. Until the establishment firmly resolves that it shall not support armed and violent non-state actors of any persuasion — including the Lashkar-e-Taiba — Pakistan will remain in interminable conflict both with itself and with the world.

While in Urdu, for the awam to read, Abdul Qadir Hasan hopes there are “many amongst us willing to be Osama”.

Khuda karay humara emaan salamat rahay aur Osama jaisay sanihay ko fatah-e-azeem kehna wala koi hum mei say na ho, Osama ban nay walay bohat hon.

Daily Express and Express Tribune are both owned by Lakson Group which owns and operates several other companies in Pakistan including McDonalds and Tetley (a Tata Group company).

Lakson Group Companies

 

This list suggests that the owners of Daily Express are probably not Osama sympathising jihadis. Osama earned his money the old fashioned way – he got a check from daddy. Lakson Group seems to be following the modern model of investing in popular brands to make their money. Why else would they operate 22 McDonalds restaurants in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Hyderabad and Faisalabad? And McDonalds – an iconic American brand – is not the only international brand sold by Lakson Group. Actually they also have joint ventures with Titan watch and Tetley Tea (owned by Tata Group).

So here we have a Pakistani company that makes millions selling American and Indian brands…but also selling the al Qaeda brand? One explanation is that it all comes down to money. Daily Express presents a jihadi perspective in the Urdu newspaper because the parent company knows that the liberals like Pervez Hoodbhoy and Fasi Zaka are not going to sell newspapers to people who buy Daily Express. Their English language readers want to read these authors, but their customers who prefer Urdu take their tea a little more bitter.

Abdul Qadir Hasan may believe that Osama bin Laden is a shaheed and an inspiration for young Pakistanis to follow. But by paying him money to say this, and publishing these opinions for the masses to read, Lakson Group is also supporting the al Qaeda point of view. On the Lakson Group website, the company brags that Daily Express has a 24 per cent Market Share in Circulation. Therefore, this pro-al Qaeda viewpoint is being circulated to millions of people. From the regular subscriber to the chaiwalla who picks up the newspaper his customer left behind.

The question that must be asked is whether Lakson Group is aware that their Urdu language newspaper is being used to promote extremist ideology among the masses. If so, do they promote this point of view out of a cynical love of money? Or is it out of an ideological sympathy for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda also?

More likely, Lakson Group is unaware that their company Daily Express is praising Osama bin Laden and promoting pro-al Qaeda views. They should be informed immediately so that they can decide if they want to continue paying for this.

A free media allows Lakson Group to choose to pay for and publish extremist and pro-militant views. But a free media does not REQUIRE Lakson Group to do this. It’s time for companies funding pro-jihadi authors to take responsibility for their products.

Below is the article published in Lakson Group‘s newspaper, Daily Express

After Shaheed Osama
by Abdul Qadir Hasan

Abdul Qadir HasanThis Saudi national who, after sacrificing billions of rupees, his family and children and entrusting his life to Allah, stepped into the field of Jihad and reached his goal on the land of pure. Without doubt, he is the greatest martyr of the present age but the Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan has called this great tragedy as a victory of someone else. Everybody received whatever he was destined for. Someone embraced martyrdom and the other flattered the killers and imperialists.

The newspapers of Pakistan are rife with the news of the tragic incident which took place on the Pakistani soil. The news is conflicting but the air will clear gradually. Americans have told that since no Muslim country was ready to accept the dead body of Osama, therefore, it was shrouded and deposited in the sea. One of our poets had said “it would have been better to have drowned after dying so that no bier was taken out and no tomb was built”. What Ghalib said did not happen to him but Osama was lucky to receive the kind of burial the poet had desired. It has been told that the imperialist killers placed the dead body of Osama on a plank and entrusted it to the sea waves. Someone had appropriately said “I am a river and will descend into the ocean”. A news item says that he has been buried in an island but one of the many news headlines circulating tells that the Americans wanted Osama not to find a tomb so that it does not become a world center of anti-imperialists and Islamic activists. This is why he has not been given an earthly burial. A glance over the world map would reveal that the Muslim world stretches from one end of the world to the other. In this land of millions of acres, a man could not find two yards of space who sacrificed everything for the sake of Islam and showed the world that those who would lovingly die for Islam are still alive. Never mind if Osama did not receive a grave his death and his memories will always remain shining. His death has been made disputed. For some he is “deceased”, for some “killed” and for some “died” but the time to come will bear a testimony to the fact as to who died and who was martyred. Ahmed bin Humbal fell from the stripes he received but did not compromise on a polemical issue and stood his ground. He said that his funeral procession will testify to the truthfulness of his standpoint. On the day of his funeral there was no one left to say prayers in the mosques of Baghdad. All the prayers were said in the funeral compound. This was a testimony to the truth.

Osama is a target of the anti-Muslim super power these days but he represents a weak and fading super power. He boldly stood against the anti-Islam western imperialism led by America. He became a symbol of Islamic resistance. This innocent man the love and glow of whose eyes will attract you was suffering from kidney disease for years. First he was cured in the Pakistani mountains but now for sometime he was comfortably staying near Abbotabad. He had declared sometime that he will never give himself up alive in the hands of his enemies and, in his ill health, he went down fighting because he had decided long ago to fight and die while fighting. He invested his unlimited wealth and high modern education in the way of God. How fortunate was he that the Providence accepted his sacrifice. Today he is not a prisoner but Shaheed Osama bin Laden. He will remain alive in the Muslim memory with this appellation.
It is a great success for America. Its thunder will further increase and the Muslims will live a life of fearfulness. They have neither the wealth of Osama nor the army of devotees. They do not have the faith which bursts into flames. I do not know who will take his place. He has become a legend. Look at the history there have been greater people than Osama and the Muslims could not find their replacement. Only their living example remained and Osama was a part of it. Who knows we remain without another Osama. May our faith remain strong and no one should arise from us to call this incident a “great victory” but there should emerge more people to become Osama.

Jang Group’s Two-Faced Reporting On Osama

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

The News (Jang Group)The events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad have revealed the two faced media once again, this time in it’s worst form. This week a report by Agha Khalid on Osama bin Laden’s death appeared in both The News and Jang. These reports appeared on the same day, by the same reporter, and in newspapers owned by the same media group (Jang). But there was a difference between the two reports. Actually there were several important differences. One was the language – The News being an English language newspaper and Jang being an Urdu language newspaper. But the differences didn’t stop there…

Here is how Agha Khalid’s piece appeared in the English language newspaper The News (Jang Group):

KARACHI: Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had taken oath from his sons, guards and colleagues that if the Americans ever arrested him, his aides would shoot him instantly, sources told The News on Tuesday.

When US forces raided the compound where Osama was living, one of Osama’s guards and colleagues, Ahmad Shaikh, rushed to the second floor. Osama asked him if he remembered his oath. When Ahmad replied in the affirmative, Osama pulled out his pistol and gave it to Ahmad who fired a shot at Osama’s chest. Osama fell down and pointed his finger at his head. Ahmad then shot Osama in the head. In the meantime, US soldiers entered and grappled with Ahmad. They beat him up and took him along with them.

Here is how Agha Khalid’s piece appeared in the Urdu language newspaper Jang (Jang Group):

Agha Khalid's article on Osama for Daily Jang

English translation:

Osama’s aide shot him in the head and the chest, American Marines grabbed him.

Daughter embraced the dying fathers body, American Marines hit her with rifle butts

Among other things retrieved from the secret hideout were the corpses of an Arab, 2 pakhtoons, a woman and 2 children.

Pets included 6 rabbits, 150 hens, a bhains (black variation of cow), a cow, a calf and a dog.

Karachi (Report/Agha Khalid) America’s proclaimed enemy number 1 and Al-Qaida’s leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad’s local rural area of Bilal Town in his secret hideout, had kept 6 rabbits, 150 hens, a black cow, a brown cow and a calf as pets. Amazingly, Osama had adopted the hobby of the one person who called Osama his biggest enemy in Pakistan, General Pervaiz Musharraf, and kept a black Alsatian dog as a pet too who is still there. It is not known whether he kept the dog for pleasure or from a security point of view. Two cars in the house, one of which is a Suzuki Potohar license plat RIA- 3676 used by Osama’s sons and the second a Suzuki Carry Van M-7743 being use by Arshad, are still in good condition.

Jang has received reports created after Osama’s death, by different sensitive security institutions that took into account statements by 22 year old daughter Amal found alive but wounded and 26 year old woman Maryam in a big Rawalpindi hospital, where they are being treated. According to reports prepared by his close aides, Osama had taken an oath from his sons and trust worthy guards that if his arrest is inevitable that they should shoot him. By his own account, he did not want to be captured by the Americans alive and did not want to die a haram death by shooting himself. That is why survivors say that after hearing the helicopter sounds on top of the house and later on sounds of some people jumping on the rooftop and running towards their rooms and after listening to the blinding firing, Ahmed Sheikh came out of his room and started running towards Osama Bin Laden’s room who by that time had opened the room door and come out of his room. As soon as he saw Ahmed Sheikh he asked him “Do you remember your oath?” when Ahmed Sheikh nodded his head indicating a yes Osama extended him his own pistol he had in his hand, which he always kept by his bedside. By that time American Marines had reached the lower level so Ahmed fired at Osama’s chest.

Osama fell down and even with blood coming out of his chest, pointed weakly at his head to be made the target. Ahmed then fired the second shot. By that time Americans had come very near him and were asking him to drop his pistol while pointing their weapons at him. As soon as he dropped his pistol, the American Marines grabbed him and started torturing him. During this they kicked Osama bin Laden, who was taking his last breaths, with anger and hatred. At this situation, his daughter embraced the dying body of her father on which the American Marines hit her with their rifle butts seriously wounding her and now she is under treatment in a hospital in Rawalpindi.

American Marines on their way back took Osama’s dead body, Ahmed Sheikh, and that pistol which Ahmed Sheikh used to shoot Osama. According to reports at the time of this American special Marines operation, a woman, a child and 2 men died. One of these men is Osama’s son Ibrahim whose dead body is with Pakistani authorities. Among other things retrieved from the secret hideout of Osama were the corpses of an Arab, 2 pakhtoons, a woman and 2 children. According to another report, the wounded included 1 Arab, 4 women and 6 children. In a contrast to claims by American marines, reports by close “aides” to Osama also claim that Americans, along with Osama, took along his extremely trusted aid Ahmed Sheikh who shot him, the pistol that was used to shoot Osama and also took with them some women and children.

Along with other things that were recovered from Osama’s house that are still there, in bad condition, is a sports cycle, an exercise machine that according to the survivors was used by Osama and his sons, computer, hard disk, printer, 42 inch LCD and a mixture machine used for construction of houses. Other than this, all the rooms have beds in conditions that show that sleepers woke up in a condition of panic. These rooms show signs of hand fighting and resistance.

The picture of the house has been painted as that of a fortress type house that was constructed on 6 Marla created in 2 pieces. This seemingly ordinary house from outside is clearly divided in 2 parts from inside. In a smaller area, a small house was created alongside 3 bedrooms, which, according to the statements of the survivors, was residence of Charsaddah and Swat natives Arshad and his cousin Tariq Khan. Tariq Khan was unmarried. Arshad had one wife and 4 children. His oldest son Asif’s age is reported to be around 8 years and the age of the husband and wife themselves to be roughly between 40-45.

American Marines, upon entering the house, targeted this part first, in which Arshad and Tariq were residing. This part clearly shows signs of resistance, by Arshad and Tariq and hence American Marines killed them all. Along with Tariq and Arshad, his wife and 4 children were also killed in this attack. The other portion was residence of Osama Bin Laden and his family. Next to it was a big lawn in which the cattle were tied. Rabbits were pets too and there was small room created separately for the dog. There was a guest room created in the area where Tariq and Arshad lived where foreign guests came and stayed who according to survivors never stayed for more than one night and when such guests came, Osama Bin Laden didn’t sleep throughout the night but stayed awake chatting with guests all night long.

According to reports created by national agencies, by the end of 2002, Tariq Khan came to Abbotabad and contacted Fazal-ur-Rehman son of Hajji Ahmed Zaman, who was a farmer and owner of this land in this new city. Tariq Khan bought 3 Canal land from him and then he would visit the land from time to time. After some time Arshad came along with him and made a deal with Fazal-ur-Rehman once again for 3 Marla land. And this is how in the cover of the 2003 earthquake reconstruction in this area, the construction of this particular house was also started.

A native of this area Zain Mohammad, son of Ameer Husain Qaum Abbasi was appointed the watchman for this house. And he stayed the watchman for this till the construction of this house was completed. He said in his statement the 25 to 26 people participated in the construction of this house on a daily basis and great attention was paid even to minute details. These people say that now they realize this house was being created for someone important that is why the security point of view was given utmost importance in its construction. During this time, Arshad often used to come from Peshawar. He used to make payments to the local contractor Gul Ahmed constructing the house. Gul Ahmed is told to be a native of the village Laryan near Abbotabad. Watchman Zain Mohammad was let go after the construction of the house was complete and after that no one was allowed to go inside the house.

Reports also mention that the house had two main gates and both had been installed with automatic locks and these automatic locks had the characteristic that they opened and closed themselves after the specific security codes were put in. Arshad and Tariq lived together in one part of the house with their families. Arshad had a French cut beard. He used to go to the nearby mosque regularly to offer prayers. He often gave charity for the construction of the mosque. He often also took his children and walked around the village or went to specific shops in the village for supplies. He also took care of feed for birds and animals kept for Osama bin Laden.

Reports also mention that 2 helicopters belonging to the Marines operation team reached on top of Osama Bin Laden’s house at approximately 11:45 and about 11 or 12 commandos repelled down from one of the helicopters and jumped on the rooftop. After that one of the helicopter returned and the other increased its altitude and started monitoring the operation. After approximately 10-15 minutes 3 more helicopters arrived. Now 4 helicopters were hovering above Osama Bin Laden’s house. Then suddenly one of the helicopters tried to land in the yard of the house, which according to report gatherers is because of wanting to transfer Osama’s dead body to one of the helicopters. Because of this helicopter tried to land in the narrow yard and crashed.

Later on Obama’s dead body and some people were put on helicopters by attaching ladders. Then these helicopters, after the completion of a 40-minute duration operation, headed towards an unknown destination. Because of firing and cannon shots from the helicopter, both the gates and eastern walls of the house have collapsed and the roof has also sustained heavy damage. Just like this, another source claims that American Marines have used an airbase connected to Tarbela dam for the operation and then later on Osama’s dead body along with the captured people were first taken to a NATO cantonment connected to Kabul airport and then to an airbase carrier in the Arabian ocean.

Big difference, isn’t it?

Agha Khalid is very careful to humanize Osama from the very beginning, describing his livestock and pets as if Osama were any common man. The reporter describes in fine detail the style beard worn by Osama’s trusted aide Arshad and his charity works. The families of Osama and his aides are noted by counting the number of women and children. And there’s more here than will be readily apparent if you can’t read the original Urdu. For example, Agha Khalid uses terms like “thay” and “unhoon” and “un” “gaye” etc that imply respect for Osama. Reading Agha Khalid’s description, one gets the impression that Osama was a simple villager and not a billionaire international terrorist responsible for countless deaths hiding from every intelligence agency in the world.

Agha Khalid goes on describing the brutality of the American Marines (actually they weren’t Marines but Navy SEALS according to US reports) as kicking bin Laden while he’s laying on the floor dying. He describes quite dramatically Osama’s daughter rushing over to embrace her dying father and, once again, American Marines brutally attacking her while she mourns. Throughout the piece, Agha Khalid counts the number of women and children he claims were killed, making it seem like a ruthless massacre. The entire drama is perfectly concocted to arouse the sympathies for Osama bin Laden as an unjustly abused martyr and the Americans as vicious attack dogs.

But the level of detail given to this piece also gives it away as pure fiction. In order to describe the scene such as this, the author or his source would have to be present in the room from before and after the Americans arrived. As the saying goes, ‘dead men tell no tales’, so how is this possible?

Since this piece by Agha Khalid must be pure fiction, then it naturally follows to ask what purpose it is intended to serve. The immediate answer is troubling – a sympathetic tale filled with honourific terms suggests that the intention of the piece is to stoke the flames of anti-Americanism and favour for militants. A further question that must be asked is whether such reporting represents the intentions of Jang Group or whether they were put up to this task by someone and who that someone is.

The problem with two-faced media could not be more boldly illustrated than in the comparison of these pieces by the same reporter carried in newspapers owned by the same media group (Jang). The single paragraph printed in The News is little more than a questionable report that an aide and not American troops killed Osama. But behind the veil of Urdu, away from Western eyes, Jang Group paints a sympathetic portrait of a simple man and his family brutally attacked and murdered by a nameless, faceless invading force from the West.

The nation is struggling to answer difficult questions such as how an international terrorist like Osama bin Laden could be hiding in plain sight of Kakul and how a team of American commandos entered Pakistani territory and left without being detected. The people are confused and puzzled about what has happened on that fateful day and the several years leading up to it. As we look for answers, we are being hand fed propaganda by a schizophrenic media that chooses its tales to suit its audience.

Why is drone data missing from Daily Jang?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

This blog has mentioned before the issue of media priorities – the decisions by editors and producers about what stories are important and what stories are not important enough to include in the day’s discussion. We have also explored the way that issues are reported differently between the English language and Urdu language media. Today’s story involves how these issues two issues can intersect to create a division among the people in how they understand important issues facing the nation.

The News (Jang Group)Tuesday’s edition of The News includes an article by Farrukh Saleem that gives some very interesting statistics about drone strikes. The author takes careful consideration of the history of terrorist violence till date and compares to the violence from drone strikes. While the author does not claim that drone strikes are justified or not justified, he does provide careful research that counters many of the myths and assumptions that dominate debate on this controversial topic.

Despite the facts and figures appearing on page 2, the editorial writers for The News on page 7 repeat the disproven claim that drones kill more innocents than militants. Data collected and made publicly available by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann’s drones database at the New America Foundation shows that drone attacks kill significantly more militants. This view was also recently given in a public briefing by General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood. Additionally, a recent article by Omar Waraich recounts a discussion among top military officers who also contend that the drones have some use.

For example, on March 23rd, Gen. Kayani played host to a clutch of senior retired generals and, amid the tea and collegial bonhomie, the conversation casually turned to Kayani’s statement a week earlier. Some of the visitors wondered why he had adopted such a sharp tone, describing the March 17 attack as an “unjustified and intolerable” violation of human rights. “These drones do have some use,” one of the retired generals said, according to someone present. “Yes, they do have a use,” Gen. Kayani was heard to reply.

Therefore is should be considered that the issue is more complex than is often allowed in media discussion.

Here it should also be noted that Farrukh Saleem’s article appears only in the English language newspaper of Jang Group, but not the media group’s Urdu language daily Jang. Though The News should be praised for including Farrukh Saleem’s article as it provides important context that is not often included in the discussion, we would still be justified in asking why certain statistics only appear in English media but are not published in Urdu media also.

Public opinion on issues such as drone strikes influence the core of national priorities and the way that leaders address them. In a democracy, where the people are able to influence their leaders, it is essential that the people have full information so that they can make decisions based on facts. Just as it is wrong for media to promote incorrect facts, also it is wrong for media to promote different facts for different groups in society leading to misunderstandings and divisions.

Issues such as drones should be covered objectively by news reports and not with a specific agenda. This includes making sure that whether an individual is reading English news or Urdu news, both are getting the same facts on important issues. Sadly, with the case of drones, it appears that is not properly happening.

First US Controls the Weather, Now Time Travel Also

Monday, January 24th, 2011
Time Machine

Time machine used by US Congressman in conspriracy against Jang Group?

An article by Azim Mian published in both Jang and The News claims that President Zardari has engaged in a conspiracy against the media by convincing members of the US Congress to write a letter to Hillary Clinton requesting that visas not be granted to “media men not condemning the killing of Salman Taseer”. Judging by the evidence, though, the conspiracy appears once again to be Azim Mian’s and not Asif Zardari’s.

You will recall that this reporter Azim Mian has a chequered history of ridiculous smears leveled against the president including an article of June 2010 that tried to claim a ‘well-known’ website listed Asif Zardari as a US Citizen. The website turned out to be neither well known nor authoritative, and even so by the time Azim’s article was published it did not list Asif Zardari as US citizen.

Azim Mian also reported in June that Hussain Haroon would resign his post as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations before August 2010 due to “palace intrigues and impediments in his work”. It is now over seven months since the article and five months since Azim’s prediction has proven false despite the claims of his ‘sources’. These are only two examples of the reporter’s ridiculous claims and failed predictions.

So Azim Mian has a history of making ridiculous anti-Zardari claims in apparent attempts to embarrass the government without having good facts to back up his claims. But this latest conspiracy theory is even more foolish than his past articles.

According to Dawn, the letter sent to Hillary Clinton actually requests the State Department to  “identify those Pakistani citizens that have shown demonstrable support of the assassination of Governor Taseer”.

“Some of the most prominent clerics, journalists and lawyers who have praised Mr Taseer`s death and have demonstrated support of his murderer, are people who frequently travel to the US and hold American visas.”

Obviously, this request is not aimed at “media men not condemning the killing of Salman Taseer” as Azim Mian incorrectly states. This is his first error, and probably the smallest one though it is important to note as Azim’s article could lead readers to incorrectly believe that the US is pressurizing journalists to make a statement against the murder of Salmaan Taseer which is not stated by the letter.

Azim Mian then goes on to claim that “…indications are there that the US State Department had prepared a list of journalists and others on whom entry in the US may be denied by cancelling or denying visas”. The only “list” that has been published according to our research was a group of names published by Daily Times on 20 January. But this list is unsourced except to anonymous “sources in Washington” and carries a dateline of Lahore, as Azim Mian admits in his report. Furthermore, Azim claims to have spoken with a source at the US State Department who indicated that no list of Pakistani journalists had been prepared.

If Azim Mian was simply questioning the validity of the list published by Daily Times, he might have a point – it seems suspicious. But Azim did not stop there. Instead, he added to his growing portfolio of baseless speculation and misinformation.

According to Azim, the letter to Hillary Clinton is part of a conspiracy by the president against media freedoms. Azim claims that when Zardari went to Washington to attend the funeral of Richard Holbrooke and met with US officials, he spent his time referring negatively about Pakistan’s media and specifically Jang Group. Azim claims that:

It was in this scenario that the aides of the Zardari-Gilani government taking notice of the sentiments, perceptions and also complaints of their boss lobbied with the anti-Pakistan congressmen and made them to write a letter to Secretary Clinton.

Please recall that this is the same visit termed ‘mysterious’ by Jang Group because the president did not take a large government contingency along with him. If this trip was so mysterious, one might ask, how does Azim Mian know what Zardari said in these private meetings? What is the evidence to support this conspiracy theory? Actually, there is none.

In fact the only basis for Azim Mian’s conspiracy is his claim that “informed circles are of the opinion…” This is not fact by his own admission, but merely the opinion of some people who do not even want their names associated with it. It seems Azim Mian’s anonymous sources are as trustworthy as his colleague Ansar Abbasi‘s.

This brings us to the final point, the one that does away with this foolishness for good. It turns out the error of Azim Mian is quite obvious and an easy one to prove. In fact it is telling that the reporter and his editor gave so little thought to this story that they could not realize it before they published it in two newspapers. You see, President Zardari met with US officials on 14 January during which time they discussed pressing issues, according to reports from both The White House and Ambassador Husain Haqqani who was present for the meetings.

How do we know these meetings didn’t include discussions of Jang Group followed by lobbying US Congressmen for a letter to be sent to Hillary Clinton? The letter to Hillary Clinton was written on 13 January 2011 – the day BEFORE the meetings.

letter to hillary clinton

First page of the letter to Hillary Clinton dated 13 January 2011

second page of letter to hillary clinton

According to The News Zardari was driving from New York to Washington during this time because he is afraid of heights – a ridiculous assertion, but one that shows just how desperate some people are to smear Zardari at any cost. Actually it was reported by APP that Zardari did not arrive in Washington until Thursday evening. Furthermore, if the letter is dated 13 January, it means that the Congressmen would have had to begun coordinating even before that date. Not only was Zardari not in Washington before the 13th, he was not even in the US.

If Azim Mian’s conspiracy theory could be true it would require that Asif Zardari complained about the media in his meetings with US officials on 14 January, and then some unnamed “aides of the Zardari-Gilani government” lobbied these four US Congressmen and convinced them to travel back in time to write a letter to Hillary Clinton. It simply defies all reason.

Tension between the media and the government has been present since day one. Jang Group in particular has been a loud voice accusing the government and President Zardari specifically of wanting to curb media freedoms, but certainly not the only one. And yet it is now three years into the government’s term and still these voices continue to make such accusations freely. If President Zardari intends to curb media freedom, he is doing quite a poor job of it. And I understand that some of our esteemed colleagues in the media believe that the US has a machine that controls the world’s weather, but now we are asked believe that they can travel through time also?

The government has a responsibility to be honest and forthcoming with the people and not to attempt to curb the media’s ability to inform the people. But the media has a responsibility to be honest and forthcoming with the people and not spread baseless accusations and ridiculous conspiracy theories also. Three years into the government’s term and the media is still free – how long until the media will accept their own responsibilities and stop wasting everyone’s time with such nonsense?

Ansar Abbasi's Bizarre Performance on Dunya Today

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Ansar Abbasi on Dunya TodayAnsar Abbasi appeared on yesterday’s episode of Dunya Today to discuss Wikileaks. What could have been an informative and productive discussion of an important event in both national and foreign policy turned into something of a circus, though, as Ansar Abbasi began reciting conspiracy theories instead of actual facts. And from there, his performance only got more bizarre. But where this episode was unfortunately not as informative as it could have been about the topic of Wikileaks, it was quite informative about the guest Ansar Abbasi.

About 5 seconds into the second video clip, Dr Moeed Pirzada asks Abbasi, “You said in our last program that Wikileaks is a conspiracy against Pakistan and the Muslims of the world.” Ansar Abbasi replies, “I am still saying the same thing, the exact same thing.”

This claim that Wikileaks is a conspiracy against Pakistan and Muslim countries is being passed around the media by the usual cabal of factless conspiracy theorists. It should be noted also that this line is being spread mostly Urdu media, not English-language, though it was published by The Nation last week also. Like most conspiracy theories, it seems that people believe that it is sufficient evidence to keep saying it.

Pressed by Mosharraf Zaidi to explain how this is a conspiracy, Abbasi simply says that “they use people, not just journalists; they use entire governments for their conspiracies.” Again, he makes this claim by simply stating it, presenting no actual evidence or proofs to back up his claim.

To his credit, Mosharraf Zaidi presents an important counter weight of reasonableness to Ansar Abbasi, terming it a “poison that we have in our nation that we look at everything as a conspiracy theory.” Zaidi goes on to explain:

All I am saying is that we don’t need to start scratching on every surface just to say there is a conspiracy brewing. There are so many other things that have come up here which can promote freedom, democracy and the truth. We should concentrate on those things instead of painting everything as a conspiracy theory so that we don’t ignore the guilty (as well as the innocent) involved here.

Mr Zaidi’s statement should be printed and hung on the wall of every Editor’s office in the country. Editing in journalism is about more than looking for minor grammatical or spelling mistakes. It is supposed to be about ensuring that the media is providing what The New York Times famously calls, “all the news that’s fit to print”. The operative word here being “fit” not “all”.

But I want to mention something else that may have been overlooked by casual viewers. A few minutes after Zaidi states his comments about how conspiracy theories are a distraction from real problems, the conversation took a turn for the bizarre as Abbasi began rambling about religion, saying:

Allah says the enemies of Islam do a lot of planning but Allah is the biggest planner of all. Americans can think of plan whatever My Allah has a plan for them.

This was so bizarre that even Dr Pirzada asked what he is talking about. However, I was immediately reminded of Ansar Abbasi’s recent fatwa against Fashion Week (again published in the Urdu-language Jang as if to perhaps hide it from his English-language audience) in which Mullah Abbasi wrote:

But the real sadness is over how, despite the clear instructions of Allah and His Prophet (PBUH), and despite the promise of the Constitution of Pakistan that an environment based on religious values and Islamic teachings will be created in Pakistan so that Muslims can live their lives according to the Quran and Sunnah, there is no one to stop those making fun of Islamic values. I don’t know who allowed such a fashion show to be held. This trend of fashion shows and catwalks began in Pakistan a few years ago and because of a lack of any controls, has gone, as in the West and India, towards obscenity.

Ansar Abbasi is clearly speaking to a particular audience here. He is repeating conspiracy theories about Wikileaks being an anti-Muslim plot without providing any proofs or facts to support his claim. He is making religious judgments about punishments for acts that he determines to be un-Islamic. This is all fine for Ansar Abbasi the Mullah or Ansar Abbasi the entertainer – but Ansar Abbasi is supposed to be Investigative Editor for one of the largest news organizations in the country. Ansar Abbasi can believe whatever he wants, but it does not make it news just because Ansar Abbasi thinks it.

Ahsan Butt writes an excellent question about the exchange on his blog Five Rupees:

The thing is, I completely agree with being reasonable and tolerant of other people’s opinions, and I am pretty tolerant for the most part — being at grad school sort of forces this upon you, even if you are not personally inclined that way. However, there is a big difference between respecting other people’s opinions (which I think I do) and respecting other people’s facts (which I do not and will not).

Mosharraf Zaidi and Ahsan Butt are correct. Each person is entitled to his own opinions. Nobody is entitled to his own facts. Ansar Abbasi is supposed to be an investigative journalist. He is supposed to ‘investigate’ – to find facts and report them. Perhaps he thinks he can hide from the rest of the world by behaving this way behind a veil of Urdu, but the world is not so divided as he might like to think. By spreading unfounded conspiracy theories and playing on the religious sentiments of the people, Ansar Abbasi is doing a disservice to his readers, his reputation, and his profession.

The Intransigent Talat Hussain

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Syed Talat HussainTalat Hussain, a man who has (or should I say had) a reputation for being at least bearable among the insufferable lot of TV anchors, has done it again. The anchor, on his struggling-for-rating program “News Night with Talat” recently attacked Husain Haqqani, ambassador of Pakistan to US questioning the ambassador’s loyalty and motives.

He took a couple of Haqqanis quotations out of context from Bob Woodward’s book “Obamas Wars” and directly attacked Haqqani saying that these types of comments should make us reconsider the type of people representing us. Talat Hussain has picked up two things that Woodward has quoted the Ambassador as saying in the context of Pakistan and US relations; one where the Ambassador talks about “carpet merchants” and the other where the Ambassador talks about the need to “woo a woman” and importance of giving an engagement ring.

The first quote which Talat talks about out of context as directly taken from Woodward’s book, is as follows:

He [Haqqani] also warned that the Pakistanis would always ask for the moon as a starting point in negotiations. He compared it to the salesmanship of rug merchants. “The guy starts at 10,000 and you settle for 1,200″ Haqqani told the Obama team. “So be reasonable, but never let the guy walk out of the shop without a sale.”

It is important to mention here that ambassador Haqqani was talking about how people and nations negotiate. Each side always starts with a long list of issues and then as you keep discussing and negotiating you come down to the bare essentials. And what is important, as the Ambassador emphasizes, is that you need to know what it is that you want. One also needs to make sure that you never let the negotiations break down so much that you have to let go of the one or two absolutely essential items that you need out of the negotiation.

If you’ve ever been on the streets of Saddar where rug merchants are trying to sell their merchandise, you can see that they start their sales pitch from an outrageous price and come down to a much more reasonable one. That is what the norm traditionally is for selling rugs. It is a noble and respectable profession that helps people provide for food and shelter. Talat Hussain was not only taking Haqqani’s words out of context here but was also belittling rug merchants by implying that selling rugs was beneath any respectable individual and that using such an example is shameful.

The second quotation that Mr. Talat Hussain talks about clearly out of context, from Woodward’s book where the ambassador talks about “wooing a woman” is:

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, a key go-between, tried several times to explain to the Obama administration how to court Pakistani leaders, comparing the dynamic to “a man who is trying to woo a woman.” “We all know what he wants from her. Right?” Haqqani said in a meeting with Jones, Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and the NSC’s Gen. Doug Lute. “But she has other ideas. She wants to be taken to the theater. She wants that nice new bottle of perfume,” Haqqani told them. “If you get down on one knee and give the ring, that’s the big prize. And boy, you know, it works.” Haqqani said the “ring” was official U.S. recognition of Pakistan’s nuclear program as legitimate.

It’s actually quite clear that the ambassador was explaining Pakistan’s complaint against US and using an example Americans can understand. Did you notice how Talat partially explained the ambassador’s statement and left out the part about presenting of the “ring” to the woman being wooed and the part where Husain Haqqani says that the ring represents America’s public acceptance of Pakistan’s nuclear status? The ambassador was defending Pakistan’s nuclear program and trying to help Americans understand how important it is for Pakistan’s security and existence and that Americans need to accept it and learn to live with it. Listening to Talat Hussain, though, a viewer would come away with a different impression than the truth.

Talat Hussain conveniently pulled out the complete opposite meaning of what the ambassador was trying to say and started implying that Pakistan is a woman and US is a man, bringing forth his sexist nature, trying to rev up his listeners emotions without real reason.

On Hillary Clinton’s latest visit to Pakistan, our ill-informed anchor who was working for Aaj TV at the time, wanted to embarrass Hillary by proving that she was wrong and U.S did not give Pakistan enough money compared to Kyrgyzstan. He kept insisting that U.S. was paying Kyrgyzstan $640 million as rent for a military base in that country. Hillary corrected the self-righteous anchor but Talat Hussain insisted he was correct. Hillary Clinton remained polite and did not pursue the whole debate further but as it turns out, Talat was incorrect and had little regard for facts.

It is also important to point out that not too long ago Talat Hussain in his column in the Urdu daily Express News targeted the famous Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie in his shameful effort to attack the present civilian government of Pakistan. He caused an uproar among most of those people who read it not because of the just the message he was trying to get across, but in how he viciously maligned Angelina Jolie’s character to build his case. His article was condemned by majority of his readers and what he actually ended up doing was show to the public his own bigotry, his sexist attitude and his own racism (he actually called Jolie’s children as “rang barangay yateem bachay” or multi-colored orphan kids). He also showed how some hypocrites in the media write in one style for the Urdu-reading public and maintain quite a different persona for the English readership.

Playing the Machismo card to rouse the emotions of viewers is the strategy of drama serials, not series news programmes. And playing fast and loose with the statements of government officials is a style of ‘hit-and-run journalism’ that may score a short-term boost in ratings but does long-term damage to national security by giving other nations the impression that we do not even respect our own representatives so why should they. All of this together suggests a disturbing trend in Talat Hussain’s reporting – a willingness to sacrifice the truth for some cheap ratings.

Ansar Abbasi's Alter Ego

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Ansar AbbasiTalat Hussain found himself the subject of outrage recently after he wrote a scathing article attacking Angelina Jolie for failing to live up to Talat the conservative Islamist’s ideal of the proper role of women. While some were upset with his point of view, most were upset with his blatant hypocrisy, seeing this as another example of two-faced journalists who are not honest with readers but only playing to the crowd. Another journalist has revealed his forked tongue by writing an article that attacks not a foreign woman but our own daughters for failing to observe modesty enough to satisfy his taste. Again, this journalist claims to be a liberal and of course he is only writing this column in Urdu.

The article under discussion is Ansar Abbasi’s column for Jang which takes aim at Fashion Week. Cafe Pyala provides a translation of the article for those who do not read Urdu. The blogger also makes the excellent point that regardless of one’s personal attitude towards fashion week, this is another glaring example of media hypocrisy – journalists and media companies who write in one way for English readers and another way for Urdu readers.

Below is a translation of his Urdu op-ed piece published in today’s Jang (thanks to @tazeen for drawing my attention to it). It is worth a read, not only because it provides a window to the mindset of Abbasi and possibly many, many others. But also because it draws attention, once again, to the linguistic divide that separates the English reading public and non-English reading public, a divide that is not only tolerated but pandered to. (It is extremely unlikely you would ever read anything like this article in the Jang group’s English paper The News or any other English-language paper for that matter.) This article serves to remind you, if anything, that all those post-modernist assumptions about progress in how the role of women in society is discussed, are merely hollow assumptions. Or at least that all those debates have passed Abbasi by without disturbing even a hair in his beard.

I have also yet to understand the mindset of the Jang Group, which launches Amn Ki Asha with great fanfare on the one hand, and has no qualms on the other in making petty-minded jabs about Gandhi and India on Geo on the other (see their coverage of US President Obama’s visit to Gandhi’s samadi). It will willingly tone down the anti-West moral brigade in The News or on Geo, but allow them free rein in Jang. It will make Geo a media partner of the Fashion Week and provide it wide publicity and, at the same time, run such incendiary pieces about it in its publications (and make no mistake, this article is a call to disruptive action)… Do they really think this is what is meant by ‘letting a thousand flowers bloom’?

Perhaps it’s time for Jang Group to change its name to Janus Group. It is clear that the organization is showing two faces – one to English readers and one to those who prefer Urdu. Of course anyone may have their own opinion on social issues, but it should certainly raise eyebrows to know that some of our esteemed journalists and commentators have every opinion on an issue, only reciting what they think their dear readers want to hear. If that is the case, what is the point?

Daily Nawa-e-Waqt Publishes More Taliban PR

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Daily Nawa-i-WaqtWe have shown previously troubling examples of both English language and Urdu language media publishing what is little more than PR for banned organizations including militant organizations like Taliban. Another glaring example of this behaviour has appeared this week in Nawa-i-Waqt.

On 27 September, Nawa-i-Waqt published the article titled, “Afia’s sentence is a challenge to Muslim Ummah’s honor” which appears to be little more than Taliban PR. The story by correspondent Haji Pariz Gul quotes the spokesman of Taliban Azam Tariq who termed the sentence of Dr Aafia Siddiqui in a US court as an insult to Muslim Ummah’s honor and lamented the government for being a puppet of the US. Taliban spokesperson Azam Tariq then urged the government to join the Taliban.

Strangely, Haji Pariz Gul is supposed to be a news correspondent but he did not ask investigative questions or provide any comments from government or military officals. Rather, it appears that he had called up the Taliban spokesman to have him give a statement to be printed in the newspaper.

In fact, much of what is stated is stated without attribution, blurring the line between what is being said by the Taliban and what is being said by Nawa-i-Waqt. It is as if Nawa-i-Waqt has become a Taliban newspaper in this article.

Original article is here:

Taliban PR published in Daily Nawa-i-WaqtTaliban PR published in Nawa-i-Waqt