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Why does Pakistan look isolated?

Riyatullah Farooqui

The writer is a senior journalist.

A new tradition has emerged in our politics over the last few years. Political parties and their allies are expressing their dissatisfaction with the now-ruling government, saying that Pakistan has become a victim of “global isolation”. This tradition was started by PTI in 2014. And now the Muslim League-Nawaz is following the same.

Unfortunately, it also features journalists and analysts who are sleazier. It is no secret that when a journalist reaches the category of “outstanding journalist”, journalism becomes a source of ‘income’ for him. In this regard, the journalist becomes a supporter of one of the major parties in power. He even starts doing propaganda services for this party.

Such journalists not only highlight non-exist qualities of their party leaders, but also levelled fake allegations against their opponents, who themselves aren’t aware of. There are some who butter up Army chiefs for their success. Just read the newspapers of the month following the appointment of the last four chiefs of the Pakistan Army. You will have a good idea of who are being mentioned.

The announcement of new army chief is not an unexpected move. A couple of months ago, a debate started over who would be the new army chief. So during this period, such journalists are the first to start a debate on who are the senior most four or five generals? And what positions are they in at the moment?

Then soon it is announced that so-and-so three names have been sent to the Prime Minister, then the discussion shrinks to these three names instead of senior most. Meanwhile, such journalists do not describe the supernatural qualities of any one of them.

But as soon as one of them is appointed as the next Army chief, they start pointing out the qualities of the chosen one. At the same time, they reveal that the appointed one is the most qualified among the three to become the new army chief.

Thirty-five years ago, a person wrote a book on the then DG ISI in exchange for two plots and it is mindboggling to see that the same qualities were transferred to next DG ISI who forcibly took the charge the latter on General Zia’s order. However, he retained the person as their ghostwriter after retirement.

This is not hearsay. You might be wondering why someone would like to be the penman of a retired general. So the thing is that these DG ISIs have read the profiles of everyone. They know exactly who is what.

If you look at the democratic corridors on the opposite side of it, you will find some journalists who look like journalists but do not speak or write like journalists. For example, nowadays there is a person that is making great sacrifices for democracy and freedom of expression.

He was once asked, “Why does General Hamid Gul dislike you so much?”  The person said when it was decided to remove General Hamid Gul from ISI, there were four people in the meeting: Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, General Naseerullah Babar, Defense Minister Colonel Ghulam Sarwar and me.

“It was my responsibility to spread the notification of removing Hamid Gul among the journalists after Prime Minister leaves for Turkey so that no government official would be seen to be overly active in the process. We are asked to portray the removal as a normal change. Just seeing a journalist active in spreading the news is a natural process,” the person added.

God knows best how true this claim is. But if this is true, then what is the role of a journalist in a very limited secret government meeting to remove a DG ISI? How can he be involved in the scheme? It is the right of the Prime Minister to remove the DG ISI. Why does she resort to a “secret scheme” instead of simply exercising this right? Even if there is a reaction, it should be tolerated. If you can’t stand it, why did you take power?

It is strange that a journalist is involved in government activities and that activity is also related to a high ranking military officer. Will such activities benefit civil-military relations? No, that can lead to strained relationships, and that’s what happened.

That person was also tied to a tree in Raiwind. Because he was caught taking suspicious pictures of Nawaz Sharif’s under-construction Jati Umrah at the behest of his leader Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

At that time, the person was not a “prominent journalist”, so the workers did not know. They grabbed him and tied him to a tree. When it was found out that he was a journalist, the owner of the newspaper was asked why it was necessary to take such pictures secretly. 

When the owner asked the chief reporter, he replied that he did not give him this assignment. The result was dismissal. But he never gives a reason for his dismissal. The person always said he was terminated at the request of Nawaz Sharif. Thus the listener or reader automatically assumes that the person would be punished for a democratic service.

On the other hand, there are many journalists in the history of our country who have rendered their sacrifices for the sake of democracy. But why didn’t they get these world awards? There is only one reason and that those journalists have only done clean journalism.

The criteria for winning such award is that Mikhail Gorbachev, who drowned the Soviet fleet, receives the Nobel Peace Prize. Now when such people have to be reprimanded or a government comes in which the supply line of their personal interests is cut off, they begin to see Pakistan isolated.

We are in the field of journalism for the past 31 years. But we have never seen such level of duplicitous journalism that is today. Sadly, it is not the government but the country that is being targeted for personal gain. They see the country as lonely, not an unpopular prime minister.