Media Must Unite To Defend Itself From Attacks

2nd December attack on Express office Karachi

Pakistan’s media freedom is the subject of frequent conversation. Whether one is of the opinion that deregulation provided fertile ground for conspiracy theories and other sensationalism, or that a truly independent media is the only institution capable of keeping a check on vested interests – whether political, military, or judicial – most agree that free media has a positive influence on the country. For a small minority, though, free media is seen as a threat, and lately, that minority has been waging a war on media freedom.

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Freedom of expression – the voices that need to be heard are ignored and even silenced

killed for telling the truth

The following statement by Asian Human Rights Commission was released on 28th November 2013. The original is available at the AHRC website here: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-220-2013

With the successive governments the reality of freedom of expression grows thinner and thinner as the right guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan is further constricted. Apart from blatant interference by the government, freedom of expression is also being squeezed by non-state actors without any hindrance from the authorities.

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Media Watch: Ghulam Nabi Fai Not Acquitted

Ghulam Nabi Fai

Ghulam Nabi Fai is an American citizen of Kashmiri descent who was arrested by the FBI and pled guilty to charges of conspiracy in 2011 for secretly taking $3.5 million in ISI funding to lobby the US government on Kashmir. On Friday, Geo reported that Ghulam Nabi Fai ‘has been acquitted by a US court‘. This is incorrect: Fai was not acquitted by any court, only he was released a few months early after US government attorneys petitioned the court. The US judge agreed to release Fai early noting that “the defendant has rendered substantial assistance to the [US] government“.

“Upon consideration of the government’s motion for reduction of sentence and the court, after reviewing the record and hearing the arguments of counsel and having found that the defendant has rendered substantial assistance to the government, it is accordingly ordered that the government’s motion for reduction of sentence is granted,” District Judge Liarn O’Gra said in an order issued on Friday.

 

Express Tribune also reported Fai’s release and did not incorrectly report that he was ‘acquitted’. However, Express Tribune left out the important detail that Fai earned his early release by giving the US government ‘substantial assistance’.

What information Ghulam Nabi Fai gave to the US government in order to earn his early release from prison is not known.

Amnesty International’s Report – Vindication or Missing the Point

Amnesty International report, "Will I be next?"Everyone from PTI to the Foreign Office has latched on to the new report by international human rights organization Amnesty International that criticises US drone policy in Pakistan calling it a vindication of anti-drone positions. In Washington, DC Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took the opportunity of the report’s release to repeat the call for end to drone strikes while media back home emphasise the report’s claim that some drone strikes could constitute war crimes. Does the Amnesty International report actually vindicate the positions of anti-drone campaigners like Imran Khan, though? Or are we once again missing the point.

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Good Taliban, Bad Taliban, and Useful Idiots

TTP media cell has been busy since the past few days. In addition to new promises to murder young girls, spokesman Shahidullah Shahid has also explained that TTP is receiving funding and sanctuary from the Afghan Taliban.

“The Afghan Taliban are our jihadi brothers,” said Shahidullah Shahid in an interview in Waziristan, the Taliban’s main tribal sanctuary in Pakistan along the Afghan border.

“In the beginning, we were helping them, but now they are strong enough and they don’t need our help, but they are now supporting us financially.”

None of this is really news, of course. TTP has been telling of their support from Afghan Taliban for long. In 2009, TTP leaders even swore allegiance to Mullah Omar.

That the idea of ‘Good Taliban’ and ‘Bad Taliban’ even exists is a testament to the effectiveness of media operations out of certain quarters who, despite being convinced of their own cunning, haven’t figured out that they’ve been had.

And so, while TTP militants are butchering innocents and giving life threats against defenceless school girls, we are served the same old reheated dishes.

Meanwhile, unable to think of how to defeat the real enemy, media gazis are shadow boxing….

…and trying to start the war they want instead of fighting the war they have…

geo

…which I’m sure Shahidullah Shahid appreciates since it makes his job so much easier.