All Pakistan’s establishment cares about is what plays out
in the Pakistani media and social media which is why they keep trying to spread
lies and then get caught.
Just the other day, this happened when the High Commission of Pakistan to Sri Lanka tweeted a press release claiming that Sri Lankan President Sirisena supported Pakistan’s position – not India’s – on Kashmir.
Screenshot of press release below
However, immediately thereafter the Media Division of the President of Sri Lanka tweeted a statement refuting what Pakistan had said and saying that Sirisena, while meeting the High Commissioner had made no comment on India and Pakistan or Kashmir.
Screenshot of statement below
Why do we these things that will only hurt our relationship
with our neighbors like Sri Lanka?
Pakistan has one of the worst records on media freedom and suppression of dissent. Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Pakistan 142 on its press freedom index for 2019, down from 139 last year.
On the occasion of Pakistan’s 73rd Independence Day on August 15, an investigative
report by Al Jazeera spoke about how in the Pakistani media the
coverage of opposition leaders and civil society dissenters has been
“’banned” by the government and the army.
In the report
“journalists in Pakistan described to Al Jazeera as a sustained
campaign of censorship that has targeted news organisations across the
board, banning coverage of opposition politicians – and dissent more
generally – under the aegis of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government
and the country’s powerful military.”
“Pakistan’s information ministry denied any involvement in press
censorship to Al Jazeera. “We do not have any instrument, law or
anything else by way of which we could apply pressure to anyone,” said
ministry spokesperson Tahir Khushnood. In response to Al Jazeera’s
questions, Pakistan’s military spokesperson said the “[media
regulator] undertakes such regulatory measures as per law”. “ISPR [the
military’s press wing] interacts with news media as official mouthpiece
of military to share military’s perspective on various security issues,”
said Major General Asif Ghafoor. The media
regulator, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA),
offered no comment to Al Jazeera.”
Further, during his trip to Washington DC, Prime Minister Imran Khan
asserted that “The Pakistani media, in my opinion, is even freer than
the British media,” he said, advocating for greater internal media
regulation. “The media in Pakistan is not just free, but sometimes out
of control.” Days later, media rights group Reporters
Without Borders (RSF) termed that claim “an obscenity” in an open letter
to Khan, documenting a series of attacks on press freedom perpetrated
during Khan’s tenure, including legal cases against journalists,
suspension of news channels and fatal attacks on
reporters. “These brazen cases of censorship, which seriously threaten
journalistic independence and pluralism, are characteristic of
non-democratic regimes,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire
in the letter.”
Ever since the Ayub Khan era Pakistan’s establishment has
built a narrative that the military is good and politicians are bad. This anger
has been cultivated by the security establishment within the average Pakistani
– both within the country and in the diaspora – using the educational
curricula, the media, social media and films.
Over the last decade or so the establishment has promoted
movies like Waar and Maalik that promote not only a jingoistic nationalism but
portray politicians as feudal and corrupt, army as pure and selfless, and
jihadis either as misguided or brainwashed by India. Waar 2013 film is focused on how
a former Pakistani officer uncovers a plot by India’s intelligence agency (R
&AW) while Maalik
a 2016 film is focused on the story of a former special services commando who
is hired to protect a corrupt feudal politician.
This anger cultivated for years was predicated on the fact
that the politicians have not only been corrupt but also unpatriotic as they
have been willing to speak to India while the army has ensured Pakistan’s
survival and continued the eternal struggle for Kashmir.
What is ignored in this narrative is that it is under army
rule that Pakistan has not only lost the wars it fought with India but also
lost half its territory and more than half its population (1971).
Ever since India revoked Article 370 and sought to integrate
Jammu and Kashmir there has been an upsurge of Pakistani anger. The inability
of the government of Pakistan to do anything much beyond speeches and news
conferences and social media hashtags has not helped.
One example of Pakistani anger was recently experience by
current Ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi. An army
friendly former journalist Maleeha Lodhi has served the establishment well for
almost two decades. She has represented Pakistan for over two decades – as
Ambassador to the US (1994-1997, 1999-2002), to the UN (2015-present) and to
the UK (2003-2008).
Lodhi was heckled at the close of an official event hosted by the Consulate General of Pakistan to the UN. In the video below a man heckled and accused her of corruption, saying “You are a thief and don’t deserve to represent Pakistan.” Lodhi is seeing evading questions raised by the Pakistan national during a UN event here. While the diplomat was apparently addressing media persons, the man, who seemed enraged, was heard asking whether she had a minute to answer his questions and then without waiting for a reply asked: “What are you doing from the last 15 to 20 years. You are not representing us.” Interestingly the person was pro establishment enough to be invited to this event.
media has been abuzz with reports that Pakistan’s security establishment is
planning another Pulwama-style attack inside Indian controlled Kashmir.
According to the social media account and reports put forth by a US-based advocate of Gilgit-Baltistan, Senge Sering, who has cited stories from the ground inside Pakistan, and analysts like Lawrence Sellin, the Inter-State Services (ISI) has helped militants infiltrate into the Kashmir valley so as to carry out a fidayeen style attack.
Since the 1970s, Pakistan’s
economy has depended heavily on remittances from its citizens working in the
Gulf Arab states. Pakistani doctors, engineers and other white-collar workers
are a key source of much needed money for Pakistan’s perilous economy.
In such a situation the news that
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain have rejected the century-old postgraduate
degree program of Pakistan — MS (Master of Surgery) and MD (Doctor of
Medicine) — removing it from the eligibility list of the highest paid tier.
This decision renders hundreds of highly qualified medics liable for
According to a story in Dawn,
“Rejecting Pakistan’s MS/MD degree, the Saudi ministry of health claimed it
lacked structured training program, a mandatory requirement to hire medics
against important positions. After the Saudi move, Qatar, the United Arab
Emirates and Bahrain also took the similar step. Most of the affected doctors
were hired by a team of the Saudi health ministry in 2016 when it conducted
interviews in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad after inviting applications
While “some of the affected
doctors and senior health officials in Pakistan blame the College of Physicians
and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) for damaging their career. A spokesperson for the
Association of University Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, Dr Asad Noor Mirza,
takes it as a setback for Pakistan’s major degree qualification and disrespect
to the highly qualified cream of the nation. He claimed that CPSP delegations
during recent visits to Saudi Arabia and some Gulf states had presented
distorted facts about Pakistan’s university program to maintain monopoly of the
CPSP-sponsored FCPS qualification.”
The government of Pakistan is
supposed to take up the matter with health managers in the Arab countries.