Saying that BBC’s report on MQM allegedly taking Indian funding put the party in a tight spot is probably a serious understatement. MQM has been facing intense pressure for some time, though, and whether this new report is a knock-out punch or just another bargaining chip only time will tell. However, there was something that struck me as odd about the report when I first read it. Not questions about sources and everything that was obvious and immediately mentioned. There was something else that I couldn’t quite place. Then I read Express Tribune’s editorial and it suddenly became crystal clear.
This is the line that struck me:
As a credible, independent news source, one is forced to admit that the BBC report carries some weight.
This line seems very straight forward, but let’s think about what it means. MQM’s accusers say the party was taking money and training from RAW since many years. These same accusations against MQM had been made already from our own security agencies, but now they have been confirmed by BBC which is “credible”. If one is forced to admit that the BBC report must be taken seriously because the BBC is “credible”, what does that say about the credibility of our security agencies who had already said the same thing but were not taken as seriously?
This actually raises another problematic point which is that the BBC report is based on statements by “authoritative” Pakistani source. If this Pakistani source was so authoritative, why didn’t he tell to someone at Jang or Express News? Why was it necessary for the story to be given to BBC instead of a Pakistani media group? Because BBC is “credible”? What does that say about our own media?
The biggest problem, though, is this: ‘Security institutions to investigate BBC report on MQM’s ‘Indian funding”. If a major political party has been secretly taking funding and training from RAW since many years, why did it take a BBC report for our security institutions to find out? What are our security institutions doing if a foreign media group has better intelligence than we do?
Actually, the last point I think is incorrect. I don’t think that our agencies learned anything from BBC. It is much more likely that our agencies informed BBC. They informed BBC so that BBC would give the allegations the credibility they needed for the agencies to proceed. This is still a very big problem, if it’s true, because it means that even our agencies know they have a credibility problem.
If MQM took any money or training from India it will go down in history as an example of stupidity of epic proportions but there will also be serious questions to answer about why it was allowed to go on for so long. If they didn’t, the allegations will still have done serious damage to party and the democratic system not to mention the credibility of everyone involved. And this is the paradox: No matter what, MQM will be damaged by this episode, but they won’t be the only ones.