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World’s ‘deadliest place’ for journalists

Each and every Mission has its unique features and a career diplomat is required to adapt his work ethic. Any Indian diplomat would agree that the first 2 hours at home in the morning before setting out for work in Islamabad is invariably, any single day, devoted to a cover-to-cover reading of the Pakistani press. Urdu press was sheer delight to read and for a South Indian like me, the Urdu translator in the High Commission was a valuable colleague in the Mission. His daily digest of the Urdu press would literally open a whole new world in Pakistan that otherwise eluded a foreigner.
Why was the Pakistani press so important? First, information was hard to come by in Islamabad as we were constantly under ‘surveillance’. Second, interlocutors working in the media media were chary to be seen with us Indians as it would land them in trouble (including physical). Third, put simply, Pakistani newspapers gave valuable clues to official thinking because they could not take an independent line on sensitive areas of foreign and security policies. Many journalists were known to be on the payroll of the Pakistani security agencies.
I thought things had changed since that time in 1992 when I left Islamabad. Certainly, Pakistani newspapers are lively things to read. But the more things seemed to change, the more they seem to remain the same. A commentary by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (incidentally, a US govt-funded media setup headquartered in Prague) has torn the Pakistani media culture to pieces. Its findings: a) The “scope of coverage continues to be narrow, the reporting of sensitive security and human rights stories is limited, and coverage in general tends to follow the official line”; b) Pakistani army “dictates… what Pakistanis can read and watch”;
c) ISI has separate media wings for TV channels, FM radio stations, etc. and “has become quite a sophisticated kind of machine dealing with the media.”
But why is RFERL wasting money to expose the Pakistani media and ISI’s propaganda machinery? It’s Raymond Davis, Stupid! The Americans are livid that the ISI gave them hell by orchestrating the Pakistani media and ‘planting’ stories through the 8 or 10 weeks that the Davis affair was unfolding, which made CIA look utterly foolish and inept. I think ISI won hands down in the media war. The American commentators like Christine Fair were livid with anger that they had been had in such a sophisticated way by the ISI. The funny thing is the Americans probably thought their embassy in Islamabad  had the Pakistani journalists eating out of their hands – only to realise that  South Asians are adept at occasionally eating the very hands that feed them.

Posted in Diplomacy, Politics.

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2 Responses

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  1. ajaykmathur@rediffmail.com says

    Will the Americans ever learn?
    Will we Indians never realize that in a crisis the Americans would not even think twice before abandoning us. Though we are one of the greatest democracies in the world, the Americans have always supported a military regime that is fighting a proxy war against us. Our colonial past probably makes us believe that the policy being followed by the western world over the years is in our interest.
    The present American policy owes its genesis to the cold war, when Jawahar Nehru’s policy of non-alignment was percieved by the American ‘think-tank’ to be a proclamation of alignment to the Soviet Union. The cold war is over but nothing has changed. The threat of a nuclear war in South Asia is now touted as the reason for support to a military regime rather than a democratic republic . American presidents over the years have voiced their support for us but stood by the military regime aligned against us.
    The survival of a failed military regime responsible for indiscrimate acts of terror against can be attributed only to military and financial support from the Americans.
    The worlds ‘deadliest place’, for journalists journalists is the result of an inflexible American policy

  2. tainted barkha says

    Barkha Dutt Case Study and Petition – Read case study on corrupt media. Google Barkha Dutt case study and check first link. The site is also running a petition asking for Barkha Dutt’s resignation and taking back her padma shri. 315 people have already signed petition so far. Their comments are so interesting and are a must read for any one who cares about india. Barkha Dutt will be recognized as most corrupt journalist in the history of journalism and only traitor employed by NDTV.Therefore, please become a part of history by participating in this case study and signing the petition.

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