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North Waziristan Blackout: Media Credibility Damaged Beyond Repair

Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar
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Murtaza Solangi argues that by coercing the local media into silence, the authorities have empowered the same foreign and social media that they abhor so much.

Since the tragic incident of Sunday in North Waziristan, the credibility and the reputation of Pakistani media have stooped to new lows. After the news of the death and injuries of PTM workers and arrest of MNA Ali Wazir, the national media represented by screaming news TV channels and newspapers have only pushed the narrative of the ISPR and mainly blocked the point of view of PTM and their supporters.

All reports suggest that the area after the incident is under curfew, internet and phone lines are not working and the independent journalists are being barred from reaching the area.

It is clear that Pakistani media has adopted this policy of blacking out PTM point of view under coercion by the state authorities. The PTM point of view is only available on social media. Only the international media looks balanced as it carries the perspective of all sides in the conflict, the military authorities included.

The authorities have forced the national media to carry just the ISPR version of events and hence hurt the credibility and reputation of the national media by blurring the lines between the military press release and independent reporting. The media by acquiescing has shot itself in the foot and damaged its credibility beyond repair. The authorities have also done a great national disservice by damaging the image of the national media and thus giving international media the power to shape the narrative, as people interested in knowing the facts are tuning into international media for reports.

This is reminiscent of the martial law days when people would throng to tea-shops at night to listen to BBC London and VOA to know what was happening in their own country. By forcing the media to carry only the version of the ISPR, the people wanting to know what happened there were left with no option but to rely on the international media to find the truth.

Veteran journalist Muhammad Ziauddin, who has headed two of Pakistan’s most prestigious English dailies, Dawn and Express Tribune, said, “It is clear, the coverage of the tragic incident is nothing but the self censorship under coercion and it has tarnished the credibility of Pakistani journalism built over decades”.

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Former Editor of Dawn Abbas Nasir sounded the same. “The way the media blacked out coverage [of the North Waziristan incident] was evident of military pressure amounting to censorship. Sad day for [Pakistani] media”, he said.

Now the politicians from the opposition, and also some from the ruling coalition, besides the human rights bodies, have demanded impartial probe into the incident to find out the truth. In case the truth negates the state narrative of the incident and supports the claim of the PTM that peaceful and unarmed protesters were fired upon, killed and injured then, it will be a mortal blow to the reputation of the Pakistani media.

One thing is clear: The Miltablishment and the #SethMedia have hurt each other by one-sided and lopsided coverage of the tragic incident and will end up on the losing side at the end of the day. Despite the tirade of the Miltablishment against the foreign media and the social media, they have actually ended up empowering them beyond their imagination.

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15 Comments

  1. Hassan Nazeer May 29, 2019

    All over the world starting from the pentagon to European countries where democracy is most developed, the state narrative is pursued on mainstream media? How come official media presser of ISPR is dubious and that of other parties so holly? FATA had been a war zone and there is military deployment there, any incident is reported by ISPR and it should be taken as a news source, the military is part of state apparatus, and its statements are official state narrative, this is how it works all over the world?

    Reply
    1. Amjad Malik May 31, 2019

      Strongly disagreed with Hassan Nazeer who hints from Pentagon and European countries where democracy is most developed , may I ask him how many telephone calls CNN and DW receives from their Armies information departments…is there any general like Gen.Asif Ghafoor who glorifies himself by creating thousands fake social media pages and twitter handles most of them were had been deactivated recently by social media owners but they again flourish like grass after rain. There is no comparison between international media and duck paki media. If American media highlights state narrative , it also provides other opinions and facts. When US and Britain were loudly talked about Iraqi WMD, it was western media who contradicted it just like recently it counter American stance about Iran. So people like Nazeer are not presenting correct analysis. I appreciate Murtaza Solangi for this factual writing. Hope state organ will consider positively it and will not hurt by truth. Democracy and free media are ingredients of development. Army should take some rest now in barracks and must give chance to its selected civil government to tackle politically motivated issues and should not handle them by force. It will destroy all efforts made in that inflamed area which requires some ice on burns rather than bullets.

      Reply
  2. Yousaf May 31, 2019

    Is free press is only for pakistan? Thay are using freedom of media to abuse pak army. Do western media abuse their armies? What their armies did in Afghanistan,Syria and Iraq? Why this media is not speaking about pelistine?

    Reply
  3. Rahman May 31, 2019

    So sad that rather than supporting this decade long active war against our country, no opportunity is left by the corrupted media to spread further discord and promote anti state elements and thoughts…

    Reply
  4. Aarifa May 31, 2019

    As a Pakistani we have to do whatever is good for our country. This is what whole world is doing. The comments on the matter by few politicians, NGOs and other persons,seem more to be enemies narrative.
    We should not forget sacrifice of Pak Army in keeping peace in those areas and should have faith in our Army. Those who speak against Pakistan are traitors and they should be blackout.

    Reply
  5. Ch Irfan May 31, 2019

    A true perspective indeed …

    Reply
  6. Usman Dar May 31, 2019

    Our Army is doing the right steps in favour of Pakistan.We stand by our Army

    Reply
  7. Habib khan May 31, 2019

    Dont protect these rubbish people like wazir pashteen and dawar these are our Pakistan and army enemies

    Reply
  8. Abbas May 31, 2019

    Clearly the writer is delusional and talking realities that only RAW and NDS have made…. No one should be allowed to challenge the state when they are discharging its duties legally… These ptm goons call themselves afghan… How can u wish for them to be treated as Pakistanis….

    Reply
  9. Qahir khan May 31, 2019

    Unfortunately, in the past religions ‘church, mosque, temple were used for political agendas by the masses. Now due to the development of media ; print, electronic, and even social media the service of religious institutions not required as it used to be. Now media is the best source to promote their propaganda. Where is this foreign media in kashmir, where is this foreign impartial media in Iraq and Afghanistan, where is this foreign independent media in palastine. The players of the foreign media which blames local media is actually the mind behind the unrest in Ex Fata. The law and order under command of Pakistan authorities is against their agenda not only in Pakistan, but alaso in the region. This used to be a safe heaven for them and their likely minded from where they could launch any terrorist activity in the region. The smuggling of norcorics and arms, the manufacturing of arms and explosive materials, the training of terrorist and suicide bombers, kidnapping for ransom, and other many more. Now when the area came under control the have started plan B which is the launch of sold puppets in the name of PTM, previously ISIS, BLA, TTP and the list goes on.

    Reply
  10. Ali Hassan May 31, 2019

    Mr Solangi I think it’s looking for a foreign investor (CIA, RAW etc). It is obvious that every unknown unqualified so called journalist targets the state apparatus to gain fame and makes money. Even prostitutes have a character. Shame on u

    Reply
  11. Sohail pasha May 31, 2019

    What utter nonsense. If this writer had any journalistic ethics. Or national pride he would realize that we as a nation are in a state of war and under these conditions Pakistan comes first. We did give this treasonus group to bring there grevencies to the Parliment floor but they chose to attack the. Very foundation. They have colluded with our enemies. And for that there is only one thing.. Death for these snakes and for there sympathizers. One more thing this idiot who calls himself a writer/ journalist needs to educate him self. Go and look at Guantanomo Bay and see how anti state eliments are treated. And most of them have done nothing just on the flimsiest evidence they are put through years of hell. Pakistan Zindabad

    Reply
  12. Faysal shah May 31, 2019

    Solangi sahib every where in world specially western democracies and in Asia state narratives are being followed may it be pulwama in IOK or elsewhere.Pakistan is at war and in war Main stream media follow state narratives may it be imbeded correspondents of Media,take examples of first and second wars of Gulf by US and NATO and there Muslim Allies…….FATA like Afghanistan is still war zone…..like IOK is for India…..Democratic norms in Media has boundaries ……a still young Media in Pakistan still has to learn a lot ….please do not brush away the integrity of State,it is is and always will be Supreme..

    Reply
  13. Waqas Ahmad May 31, 2019

    Mery khayal my ptm k sath Jo sab sy bara masla hy WO unky kol or fail my tazad hy WO keh rhy hain k masail ka puraman hal chahty hain lekin Nara WO laga rhy hain pak foj murda baad or israil zindabad or j Jo dahshat gardi hy is k pechy wardi hy logo ko barka rhy hain kia asy hota hy masail ka hal

    Reply
  14. M Fahim Abid May 31, 2019

    Ptm Pakistan ki dushman hai ye ghairon k hathon mein khel rhe hain in sha Allah bahut jald hum Pakistan se ghaddari krne walon ka khatma krenge

    Reply

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