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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The U-Turn Hype: Anti-PTI Media twisting words yet again?

News Analysis |

Prime Minister Imran Khan is once again in the news for a statement attributed to him. According to some media outlets he said,” A leader who does not take “U-turns” according to requirements of the situation is not a real leader.”  In addition, comments were made by him regarding Hitler and Napoleon as leaders who suffered because they had not made u-turns. He stated this while speaking to some media persons at the Prime Minister house.

PM Khan also cited an example from his cricket days when he led Pakistan’s national team, saying, “We used to make strategies for matches but if those plans failed to deliver then we would make new strategies.”

The PTI government since its inception has been the target of a campaign of misinformation.

At once, some local media organisations took this news and ran stories suggesting Pakistani PM had considered it lawful for turning one’s back on stated positions or goals. Pakistani media stories were then taken up by international media including Indian media to criticise the PM. Others began to fan conspiracy theories that as the ‘PTI governments 100 days’ were fast approaching the PM was trying to lay grounds for justifying dismal performance.

These reports were then taken up by opposition parties who criticised PTI for doing a U-turn. Ironically many among them belonged to the PML-N whose own leader was busy disavowing everything he had said before in court.

So what did PM Khan actually say?

The PM, unlike PM Nawaz Sharif, has had numerous meetings with media persons to personally explain his approach on many issues to them. When asked about the contradiction between his statements before elections – that he would not go to the IMF and his recent attempts to court it – the PM clarified his position.

PM Khan was focusing on a single point when he stated ‘the leader is one who changes plans and strategies to counter the emerging circumstances’. “If you are walking and there is a wall in front of you, then you will have to find another way around it,” In this context he went on to add that “a leader who does not know how to take U-turns is not successful.”

Ironically among them was the PML-N whose own leader was busy disavowing everything he had said before in the court.

He also talked about Nawaz Sharif and his recent and latest statements in the National Assembly and judiciary. He said that “what Nawaz did in court was not a U-turn but a lie”. Nawaz Sharif, the ousted PM, gave a contradictory statement and was unable to justify his assets beyond known sources of income. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared him a dishonest and untruthful person in Panama Paper’s judgment.

Read more: PM Khan on U-Turns: What he said and what he meant?

He stated that when one is achieving his goals and reaches a stumbling block, it is a sign of good leadership to rectify and modify one’s own strategy to reach that goal. His overtures to the IMF were in line with his stated position to build a new stronger Pakistan for which he had to modify his earlier approach.

Moreover, PM Khan referred to Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte and said, “Hitler and Napoleon suffered huge defeats and caused losses as they did not take U-turns.” PM Khan’s reference to Hitler and Napoleon were also lapped up by hostile elements who sought to portray the reference as a sign of reverence to two militaristic dictators. The reality was that the PM was simply giving examples of bad leadership.

He stated that when one is achieving his goals and reaches a stumbling block, it is a sign of good leadership to rectify and modify one’s own strategy to reach that goal.

Why the Media Hype?

There has been a recent trend in the media to convey negative news and sometimes even resorting to spreading false news about the PTI government. The reasons lie in the corporate structure of the media as well as recent financial woes of the media industry. The information minister, Fawad Chaudhury, has stated several times that the government will not use tax payers money to subsidise private news organisations through releasing government ads as was done in the past. The PTI government and PM Khan in particular has condemned wasting the publics money in this manner. Earlier governments, in fact, since the inception of the print and electronic media, kept media organisations happy with them via this ‘legal’ mechanism of distributing government ads. Private profit making media institutions have been kept ‘aligned’ with governments through using such funds.

So after announcing such a policy it is no surprise that the PTI government, is being made the target of pressure tactic campaigns. Recently, several media organisations have been taken to PEMRA due to their inaccurate reporting of facts. The cost of upgrading and payments made for the state Minister Shaheryar’s house being one recent instance.

Read more: PM Khan under fire on social media for his “U-turn” statement

PTI CM of Punjab, Usman Buzdar was portrayed by media outlets as a murderer while in reality he had no connection to the case. Another recent example is the Supreme Court’s grilling of Geo News for its false attribution of a remark. Analysts claim this increasing web of misinformation being spread to be the handiwork of those collaborating with the PTI’s political rivals in order to pressure the government.

Others state it to be the race for ratings which cause media outlets to use sensationalism to sell their stories. However, in the present scenario, taking such comments out of context has embarrassed not only the PM or PTI but affects Pakistan’s standing and once again points to the importance of media personnel being taught media ethics. Misinformation is more damaging than no information. Given that this is the era of information war, it is the time media start acting responsibly rather ‘creating’ news for winning the corporate rat race.