One of Musharraf’s complaints in his address to Pakistan and to world was about the Pakistani media. He made a good point that while they ought to be independent, the media ought also to be responsible. The Pakistani media have been irresponsible and even have contributed to Pakistan’s current instability. I agree with him, and allow me to provide a few examples as to how he is right.
Akbar Khan Bugti was a Balochi nationalist terrorist. His attacks killed hundreds of innocent people, destroyed vital elements of Pakistan’s infrastructure, and challenged the Pakistani government’s authority and rule over large parts of Balochistan. (It did not help that Bugti and other Balochi nationalist terrorists coöperated with and supported Islamist terrorists in Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan; nor did it help that Bugti and other Balochi nationalist terrorists used Pakistan as a base from which to attack in Iran.) After years of fighting the Pakistani military (in which the Pakistani military suffered immense losses), the Pakistani military finally cornered and killed him.
Overnight, this terrorist mastermind became a martyr, a national hero. This animal was being lionized by the media. This fact, the media’s siding with the terrorist Bugti against the government, caused a major loss of influence for the government and, even worse, emboldened terrorist movements in Pakistan. To this day, I cannot figure out why the media took Bugti’s side after his death, fanning the flames of public outrage.
Recently, the Pakistani government decided to deal with the Red Mosque (in Urdu: Lal Masjid). This was a most pernicious terrorist cell right in the heart of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. It was an indoctrinating center, weapons depot, training ground, and headquarters for terrorists. And a girls school. Because of the intransigence of its leadership, Pakistan’s government did not want to move in against the Red Mosque, hoping it would fade away with time. But the people of the Red Mosque were getting bolder and bolder, kidnapping and killing and attacking and performing other acts of violence and unrest. Despite three chances for the people of the Red Mosque to surrender and be granted amnesty, the Red Mosque persisted in its obstinancy. Finally, the government decided it had no choice but to move in. It was a bloody battle (and no one asked: why were there so many weapons in a mosque?) and the government prevailed after a Pyrrhic victory.
While this battle was going on, Geo News, a prominent independent Urdu media channel, covered the battle, showing to all the world the wanton deaths inside the Mosque. This coverage and its biased anti-government rhetoric turned people inside and outside of Pakistan against the government. All the people were seeing is that the government is killing people in a mosque. This one sidedness was disastrous for the government, which had to yank Geo off the air.
To this day, I will hear people refer to the Red Mosque incident with an anti-government bias, saying they learned their facts from Geo. No context whatsoever.
The media have been part of fanning popular flames of outrage against the government for no justifiable reason. They are biased and skewed, blatantly refusing to explain both sides of the story. For some reason, they determined that Musharraf is the enemy, the same Musharraf who granted the media unprecedented freedom and liberty, and that any cause may be embraced if it goes against Musharraf and his government. This is rank irresponsibility. All right-thinking people have become disgusted with the Pakistani media because of these facts.
This pertains to us as well. The Pakistani media are not friends of America: they are part of those people and entities who oppose Pakistani coöperation with America, who oppose Pakistan’s efforts against domestic and foreign terrorists, who blame America for all the ills of the world.