In keeping with our tradition of patting ourselves on our back, throughout the India-Pakistan crisis the Pakistani media patted itself on its back saying that we were much better than the Indian media. It should not be a matter of pride that others were worse than us. We should seek to be better in and of itself.
As many Pakistani journalists and commentators have demonstrated however this was not true. According to Taha Siddiqui, the “Pakistan media was no angel either after Balakot with its half-truths and denials.” In a recent piece Siddiqui argues that “Pakistani media’s role has been no better and was perhaps even worse, given its blatant censorship of crucial facts.”
Siddiqui points out that the “popular narrative/portrayal that has gained ground is that Pakistan’s media appears to have taken a higher moral ground by saying it stood for peace while Indian media called for war in the aftermath of the terror attack in Pulwama.” However, “the reality is a little more nuanced. It may be true that it advocated for peace, but that is the position the Pakistani military has pushed for, and has been doing for almost two decades now since both neighbours went nuclear: Fuel the conflict through non-state actors, deny Pakistan has anything to do with it, and then hide behind empty peace overtures.”
Further, “How can the Pakistani media industry be sincere and committed to peace when it has been lying to itself and the public about some obvious facts surrounding the issue of militancy, particularly about this latest Balakot strikes, for which it has been mostly regurgitating what the Pakistani state is telling it to do. One of the main facts that the local media has blacked out is the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) seminary in the area where the Indian bombs fell. Leading journalists like Hamid Mir and many more who went to the location of the bombing and did shows from the ground have not once mentioned the presence of the JeM seminary in their coverage, even though they recorded the show some meters away from it.”
Sidiqui also points out that “Mainstream newspapers in Pakistan like Dawn have published stories aggregating content from international newspapers like the New York Times, Reuters, Guardian to call out Indian claims, but these reports completely ignored the fact that international media has also linked the seminary to a terrorist group. Another thing that is conspicuous by its absence in the on-ground reporting by Pakistani media is the now-missing signboard of this seminary, which mentioned it was being run by Masood Azhar, the chief of JeM. The international media even reported how it was taken away last Thursday, after its photos went viral on social media.”
Further, “There has been a complete blackout of the February event in Peshawar city, reported by this paper, where the Jaish leadership (some of whom are under custody now) met and acknowledged that the Indian strike’s target was indeed their centre.”