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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Assault on (foreign funded) Journalism in Pakistan.

Is journalism under threat in Pakistan? The author seeks to clarify the difference in 'organic' journalism and foreign-funded journalism.

The statute of limitations has expired on this untold yet widely known truth to be told. Therefore, I am going to discuss it. While journalism should be suppression free, it must also be strings free. If someone is pulling its strings, there would be pressure from the opposite direction. You can go all the way back to Isaac Newton for this.

Maria Abi-Habib wrote an article in The New York Times titled Abductions, Censorship and Layoffs: Pakistani Critics Are Under Siege. It is one of the myriad self-congratulatory writings by highlighting the imperfections and corruptions of another society while patting oneself on the back. Matiullah Jan, a Pakistani journalist, was abducted and then released after the build-up of pressure over the social media. Let me confess: it was a tactless move. Within minutes, the entire noise shifted to how journalism is under assault in Pakistan.

Hypocrisy in American media?

It reminded me of a blunder I had made as a kid. In 5th grade, a classmate kept stealing notebooks, pencils, and so forth from my bag all the time. But he did it secretly and quietly. The day I found out, I yelled at him and broke his geometry box. The noise muted the real story. Everyone saw it. At the end of the day, I was the culprit and that thief kid was the victim. The topic became my bad behaviour instead of his theft. Moral of the story is: round up these Kordoglus and Kocabashs of Pakistan with airtight evidence of their corruption and then chop their heads instead of abducting them for 12 hours.

Read more: India attacks journalists in Kashmir

For the American media to make noise about Pakistan’s treatment of journalists, my reply would be to remind them of why they impeached their President recently. President Trump was impeached because he sought foreign help to shape the election outcome at home. Before the impeachment, the Trump White House was rendered airless by the Mueller investigation, which was trying to establish whether or not there was a link between Trump and a foreign country (Russia) that helped him win the 2016 election. So, if it is so sinful to be in bed with a foreign power, why are the Pakistanis subjected to a different standard.

Foreign-funded journalism

Organic journalism is never devoid of love and hate but this is a whole other game. The problem is not journalism but rather funded journalism. What foreign-funded journalism can do inside a nation is more sinister than a standing army at the border. When dissent is manufactured by foreign cash, it is not dissent but rather a performance. And we, the people, do not like foreign-influenced journalism wrapped in a nice-sounding label such as brave journalism or activism. Foreign-funded journalism should be a cause of concern for all.

Read more: Pakistan’s resilient Christians: Kamran Michael

The time tested method of propaganda is to label one’s nefarious work as the pursuance of some noble cause. If you pay attention to Adolf Hitler, he also said that he was protecting his people and his nation while pursuing a hegemonic and racist agenda. Zbigniew Brzezinski stood at the Afghan border in 1979 near Khyber Pass and told the Mujahideen, “your cause is right and God is on your side.”

Modi following Bush tactics

Truth be told, the purpose was not the liberation of Afghanistan from the Soviets but rather taking the revenge from the Soviets for the latter’s role in killing American soldiers in Vietnam 2 decades earlier. Another aim was to stop the Soviets from advancing toward capturing the Strait of Hormuz, which would have given the Soviets the ability to choke the global oil supply at will.

Read more: Pakistan military hits back at criticism as elections loom

Similarly, President Bush invaded Iraq but labelled it as a just war to protect America against the weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda. Modi also claimed to have annexed Kashmir to make it a more secure place with better digital communication. Ironically, the region has been rendered incommunicado. Military occupation has been labelled as prosperity.

My dear American friend and a great intellectual David Barsamian has an interesting title for such corrupt journalists. He calls them Presstitutes.

Imran Jan

The writer is a political analyst. Email: imran.jan@gmail.com. Twitter @Imran_Jan.