Sabir Ali Fakhir Marghoob Luqman Saqib adan200311@hotmail.

com AN ANALYTICAL OVERVIEW OF PAKISTANI MEDIA INTRODUCTION: Media has assumed a very significant role in today’s modern world. Ever since the electronic revolution and the advancement in technology in telecommunication sector, an unprecedented growth in electronic media has seen an increase in the ability of the government and political parties to reach to the masses whether it be through the radio, TV, or the internet. This enhanced the ability of preaching out to the people has given tremendous power and influence to those who control the communication channels between the rulers and the ruled giving them the unique power of influencing both the masses and the government. However, it would be incorrect to assume that this influence goes both ways, as we would discuss today, this communication in generally unidirectional which serve the interest of those powerful lobbies that control the media. Today media is a powerful tool for international and regional diplomacy shaping the conditions for achieving maximum advantage in diplomatic maneuvers and negotiations. The US used her powerful media to shape the global public opinion against Iran’s nuclear programme, to brand it as an axis of evil and to rally the world behind her(the United States). This helped the US to achieve her strategic objectives in the Gulf and to launch a diplomatic offensive where she was able to ensure that her interests are safe. Another example of how the media aided the government in her diplomatic maneuvers in the recent tensions between India and Pakistan after the Mumbai blasts on 26th November. American newspapers, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times together with Indian newspapers, the Times of India and the Hindu, ran a successful campaign to have the Pakistan based militant group Jama-ul-Dawa banded by the United Nations Security Council. In fact the political crisis in south Asia has further demonstrated that when guided by their respective

governments and the powerful lobbies. Media is a powerful tool for propaganda purposes. Increased importance of media: However, the best example to demonstrate the influence and usefulness of media is the Bush Administration’s propaganda against Saddam Hussein’s regime, where American used the media to prepare a global public opinion against Saddam Hussein. Where the media didn’t just propaganda half truth or twisted facts but rather fabricated invented false changes of Iraq processing weapons of mass destruction, a basis which was used to legitimize America’s invasion of Iraq. The same exercise of using selective stories, partial facts and of demonizing the enemy was and is being carried out by western governments to fight the war on terror. The Iraqi example further demonstrates, the power of media, when the British and the French used the Arab media, Aljazeera for example, to expose American atrocities in Iraq and Guantanamo bay, Cuba to internationally embarrass and humiliate America and robe her off her moral authority in the world. Something which has contributed greatly in the weakening of American political power around the globe. These are but a few examples of how media has helped redefine the way international struggle proceeds, of how international politics and diplomacy is carried out and how wars are fought. All of this is related to relationships between states; however in the modern polity media has a critical role in the domestic working of a state. It is the primary tool for changing hearts and minds of the people, affecting the dominant thoughts and emotions of the society and shaping the course direction of domestic politics. Furthermore, in modern societies media has taken central position in accountability of the rulers and the incumbent government to an extent where media is termed as the fourth pillar of a democratic state together with the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Reform of Pakistani media: The Pakistani state saw an explosion of private electronic media since 2002, followed by a reshaping of the domestic political

infrastructure and an increase in the awareness of the general public. The role played by the private electronic media, especially in influencing local politics and the opinions and emotions of the masses since then, compels us to understand the circumstances and the dynamics which led to the setting up of these new media outlets to correctly and fully compared the role they have played and will play in the future in influencing the lives of the people of Pakistan. This understanding will help in making correct political opinions. The military government of General Pervez Musharaf established the Regulatory Authority for Media Broadcasting Organization (RAMBO) in April 2002 and renamed it to PEMRA in January 2001 to regulate electronic media in Pakistan. It was however in 2002 that PEMRA started issuing licenses to private TV and radio channels. Since then according to PEMRA it has issued 64 licenses to private satellite TV channels and 116 FM Radio stations. This is apart from the foreign channels which were being aired in Pakistan before the establishment of PEMRA and issuance of licenses to local broadcasters. This move followed months of speculations that Pervez Musharaf plans to allow private electronic media outlets. At a meeting at the reorientation of the information Ministry, on 16th January 2001 General Musharaf said: “Pakistan’s national strategic interest in the international media should be projected with particular focus on our principled stand on Kashmir. We should not be lagging behind in responding to stories that may be carrying a slant or tilt or whatever. We should rather encourage a pro-active approach in responding”. Such statements followed by a number of steps like the inauguration of Current Affairs and News Channel of Radio Pakistan in April 2001, the establishment 7th Wage Board Award which regulates the salaries of the journalists, the declassification of the Hammod ur Rehman Commission Report, the establishment of the Press Council, a journalistic body which devises the rules and regulations for the press and which does not include representatives from the government, NAB’s announcement that it won’t investigate judges and journalists and

hosting of regional conferences and local workshops on press freedom were some of signals which the military regime sent to the media as good will gestures and to show the government’s willingness to be more tolerant of criticism by the media and the government’s desire of establishing private media outlets. It seemed that through such actions, the military regime wanted to achieve the following objectives:

military objectives: • Increase the credibility of the government by establishing private media outlets, at a time when the government was under criticism from the segments of the society for forcing in to exile the heads of the two largest political parties, the PPP and PML-N. • The Pakistan Military establishment’s realization that India had the upper edge in the propaganda war and the shaping of the international public opinion due to private media outlets. This feeling was exaggerated after the Kargil conflict in which Pakistan military desperately felt that she was forced to abandon the Kargil conflict due to the political weakness of the civilian government and the lack of support internationally. The military wanted a similar tool at its disposal to counter Indian propaganda internationally and to make sure that she was not snubbed off by the civilian government in the future. Direction of media: It was not however until in May 2002 that Pakistan’s first private satellite channel GEO started transmission and it was towards the end of year 2004 when electronic media started having a major influence in the Pakistani society. The privatization of media in Pakistan however seems to have more than just local motivation of seeking domestic credibility and protection of strategic interests. Several local and international factors point towards this direction:

The media was privatized during the reign of Pervez Musharaf, America’s most loyal agent, who blindly followed American dictation on even the most controversial issues like establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, pledging to send troops to Iraq at the height of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, carrying out raid on Islamabad’s Red Mosque and twice removing the former chief justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Choudhary from his office. The establishment of private media outlets followed the adaption of a hawkish foreign policy the neo-conservatives in the American administration and followed America’s launch of the War on Terror after September 11 attacks. As various American think tanks, officials of the State Department and Pentagon and that of the Bus Administration have stated the US plans to fight the war on terror for decades to come. This strategy required redefining the geo-political landscape of South Asia. As we would discuss later privatization of media in Pakistan, and then controlling it, was and is one of the tools by which America seeks to secure its interests in the region. The launching of the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq by the US suggests the American desire of being physically present in the Muslim world. Establishing so called independent media outlets is part of cultural invasion. American Guidelines to Pakistani Media: Let’s look into these points in detail. Richard Hass, Director Policy Planning Staff in the US State Department in his speech titled “Towards Greater Democracy in the Muslim World” delivered at the powerful American think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations on December 4, 2002 mentioned eight guidelines which would help promote democracy and liberal values in the Muslim World and one of them was the establishment of independent and responsible media. He said, “The media has a critical role to play as a key element of civil society. In democracies, the media is free, and is not under the state control. This allows for multiple views, ideas, and perspectives to be aired in the free marketplace of ideas. The best protection against the media promulgating views that people do not agree with is the proliferation of more perspectives, not the squelching of voices.” Richard Hass was the

head of the policy planning team in US State Department at the time when media was privatized in Pakistan. In 2002, at a time when US neo-conservative hawks were more focused on invading Afghanistan and Iraq, the then Security of State Collin Powell launched the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) Program to focus on what has come be called softer elements of the US foreign policy, promoting Western values in the Muslim World. Although the program initially received a small amount of funding and was aimed at the Arab world, the model strikingly resembles the US policy towards Pakistan for the last eight years. Moreover the program has been quoted as a role model for many future proposals to the US Congress and the US administration with regards to formulating a policy towards the Muslim world. The MEPI was designed to achieve four objectives in the Muslim World: political reform, economic reform, educational reform and cultural reform. IDEOLOGICAL CATEGORIZATION OF MEDIA: Nationalistic: The first category is that of the nationalist which is led by Majid Nizami’s Nawaiwaqt group. This group derives its ideology from the Two Nation theory presented as the basis of the partition of Pakistan. They believe that Pakistan should be a parliamentary democracy with Islam as one of the source of legislation. They are conservative Islamists and recognized the 1973 constitution as a legitimate document. They are opposed to a secular outlook for the country and presented a formidable challenge to the Musharaf regime’s campaign of enlightened moderation and of presenting a soft image of the country by adopting liberal values. However due to their staunch and rigid nationalistic viewpoint and strict adherence to the ideas of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and other leaders involves in Pakistan movement they accept the right of the majority to amend the constitution even if the amendment is against the Islam and other nationalistic ideas which they adhere to. They consider the resistant movements in occupied Muslims territories in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir as legitimate. Due to their deep commitment to the two nation

theory, and there nationalistic ideals they advocate a firm and strong policy against India and America. Nawaiwaqt aggressively challenged Musharaf’s policy of normalization with India and putting the Kashmir cause on backburner. They however failed to pressurize the government in going out of the modernization process and giving concession to India. Nawaiwaqt also put up a strong challenge to the Musharaf regime’s incrimination of was due to the pressure created by the Nawaiwaqt and the Islamic elements in the Pak army which forced Musharaf to refuse American access to him after Musharaf successfully removed him as the head of Pakistan’s nuclear program. The Nawaiwaqt is opposed to the War against terror and does not view jihad as terrorism. However due to international public opinion it has been forced to abandon openly calling for it although it still has sympathies for jihad and does not these sympathies. It openly calls for jihad as a solution of Kashmir dispute; however it may be forced to abandon this policy in the wake of Mombai blasts. The Nawaiwaqt considered itself an umbrella organization for all Islamic parties. The Nawaiwaqt considers the Taliban insurgency against the Pakistan army as anti Pakistan however they advocate a negotiated settlement between the Pakistan army and the Pakistani Taliban. When ascertaining the blame on the lawlessness caused in FATA, they are reluctant to blame the Taliban and support the viewpoint that Americans and Indian secret Agencies are behind the mayhem in NWFP. Unlike the secular media outlets, who blame the Taliban on the lawlessness in the tribal areas .Nawaiwaqt considers the Americans presence in Afghanistan as the root cause of the problems which Pakistan faces in Northern areas. It is critical of Western backed NGOs and generally adopted a very aggressive stance towards government’s anti Islamic policies. Secular nationalistic: The second category is that of secular nationalists. No single newspaper or media group exactly falls into this category however different writer like Sherien Mazari and Ayaz Ameer who writes in daily news or Talat Hussein who hostess a private TV show falls in to this category. Newspapers like the Frontier Post

and Observer who have a secular outlook tend to take strong nationalistic position. The Urdu press with the exception of Nawaiwaqt and newspaper associated with religious parties generally adopt a secular nationalistic posturing. Secular nationalistic believe in liberal democracy however they are ready to compromise on it in the favor of national interest. They, together with the Nawaiwaqt group were one of the harshest critiques of Musharaf regime’s handling of the reform and women empowerment. These are the same lines America worked in Pakistan. Whether it is the repealing of the Hudood laws, the Mukhtaran Mai case, the Red Mosque or building the case for Madrassa reform and change in the educational curriculum in Pakistan, the media played an important role in achieving these US objectives in Pakistan. Privatization and its objectives: One example of how the privatization of Pakistani media has provided more access to the US to influence the Pakistani society is that of the Hadith Wars. In the report “Civil Democratic Islam” the researchers of RAND Corporation proposed starting Hadith Wars in the Muslim world to confront the interpretation of Islam presented by fundamentalist like Hizb ul-Tehrir. The idea is that there is a universal agreement on Quran being beyond criticism; however the authenticity and interpretation of Hadith can be challenged which would create confusion in Islam. Javed Ahmed Ghamidi has been provided unprecedented access to almost all major private media outlets to spearhead the Hadith War in Pakistan. Challenge to Social Bases: Another objective of privatizing the media in Pakistan is to challenge the conservative structure of Pakistani society and the deep rooted ethical and moral values held in high esteem in Muslim societies like Pakistan. The approach is specifically targeted towards the Muslim youth. Promotion of events which encourage free mixing and socializing between men and women are seen as antidotes to radicalism. In the name of providing entertainment the radical and conservative opinion of the society towards different social

practices are softened. The US hopes that this softening of opinion towards western values would eventually lead the youth to adopt these values. These entertainment channels like AAG and MTV have been set up to present an alternative of life to the Muslim youth in Pakistan. Fashion and game shows, musical nights, Valentine’s Day, romantic screen plays, liberal advertisements, chit-chat radio talk shows and co-education at the college and university levels are redefining the moral fabric of the Pakistani society and weakening its Islamic emotions. Before further analyzing the role media played in executing American plans in the region let’s first have a look at the ideological composition and political affiliations of the media in Pakistan. The Pakistani media and intelligentsia can be categorizing into three broader categories on the bases of their viewpoints towards foreign policy, relationship towards the West and the domestic politics. Diverse views on different issues: They opposed Musharraf’s policy on the Kashmir dispute. Secular nationalists accept that terrorism is home grown problem of Pakistan and believe that limited military operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas can be carried out to eliminate militancy. On the other hand they are opposed to using brute force to curb the challenge of militancy in the tribal area of Pakistan. Their view point on the war on terror and military operation by the Pakistan army in its tribal belt is not guided by any ideology, they rather see the issue as the threat to Pakistan and are willing to accept any solution which would solve the problem are limit the disastrous consequences faced by the Pakistani state as a result of this problem. Similarly, the secular nationalists view the Baloch insurgency in a pragmatic manner. The blame the Govt. for depriving the Baloch people for their rights on the other hand they criticize the Baloch insurgency as anti Pakistan. Due to their liberal ideas the secular nationalist view the repealing of the Hudood Laws and changes in the educational curriculum as necessary steps in the direction towards separating state and religion. They criticize the Islamist for their opposition of western backed NGO’s and mixed Marathon races.

Pro-Western secularists: The third category is of pro Western secularists. The DAWN, The Daily Times, and The Friday Times generally fall in this category. This group believes that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who is credited by them to be the founder of Pakistan, envisioned Pakistan to be a liberal secular democracy. They staunchly opposed to the rule of religion in public life and hate those who want to bring the religion in to public life. They aggressively opposed the military dictatorship of Zia ul Haq and his Islamization drive. They term Zia era, which saw an increase in the rule of religion in Pakistan’s public life, as darkest period of Pakistan’s history. They were the first one to embrace Musharraf’s regime’s U Turn on Pakistan’s Afghan policy after 9/11. They owned the War on Terror as their own war and aggressively supported in the hope that this will force the Pakistan Military to abandon its ties with the Jihadi Organizations and Islamic political parties. Pro Western secular is harshly opposed to the rule of Military in Pakistani politics. They were the biggest hurdle for the Musharraf’s Regime and were at the for front of turning public opinion against him. They consider the Western ideology and values to be far better than any other ideology. They are convinced of West’s Moral, political and military superiority. Hence they see West’s interference in the Muslim World, especially Pakistan as help towards liberalizing Pakistan from conservative Islamist forces. Therefore they are ready to provide ideological support to any Western plan which is aimed at promoting Western values in Pakistan. They idealize the Democratic Models present in India, Turkey and Eastern Europe as they consider that these states have been able to establish liberal Western style democracy with the help of the West and they hope that they would be able to do the same If they corporate with the West. Pro Western secular advocates of friendly policy towards India and want peace between India and Pakistan. They reject the Idea of India being a rival state and are ready to accept Indian hegemony in the subcontinent. Their stance on issues:

They are generally Anti American whom they see as a guarantor of Pakistan Military’s influence in the region and who is ready to compromise democracy and promotion of Western values for political gains. The 1973 constitution is sacred document for them. They bitterly opposed the 8th constitutional amendment made at the time of Zia ul Haq and the 17th amendment and the removal of Supreme Court judges by Pervez Musharraf’s. Pro Western Secularist realized that they are in minority in Pakistan. They think nationalism and Islamic Ideas complement each other the weaken their influence in Pakistan. Therefore they avoid taking hawkish stance and advocate avoiding war and term themselves as “peace doves”. They supported western pressure against the Pakistani State on the issue of nuclear proliferation by Dr. A Q Khan although they were careful not to be labeled as anti Pakistan given the popularity of nuclear scientists. They advocate a negotiated settlement to the Kashmir dispute and are in the favour of having good relationship with India and are against the idea of Kashmir centric Indian Policy. They strongly opposed the military operation in Baluchistan and term it as army quest of power and influence. They advocate the idea that Baloch insurgency is a result of injustices carried out against the Baloch people by subsequent civilian and military regimes. They however stop shot of supporting the demand of independent Baluchistan. Pro Western Secularists aggressively support the promotion in liberal values in Pakistan. Attitude towards Government: They ran passionate campaign and pressurized the Govt. to repeal the Hudood audience and carry out Military Operation against the Red Mosque Clerics. They supported and adopted Musharraf’s theme of “enlightened moderation”. They supported the de radicalization of the education curriculum in Pakistan and campaigned for bringing Madrassah Reforms. They consider it as their moral personality cover atrocities committed against women non Muslims and blame them on Conservative Muslim majority. They have high regard for human right groups and view them as promoters of liberal values and thus extended and every possible support for them.

Political categorization: After analyzing the ideological divisions within the Pakistani media and those who influence it lets now have a look at the political affiliation of different media outlets. To fully understand these affiliations we first need to know the stakeholders involved. These can be divided in to two groups: • International players: which includes America and Britain • Local players: which include mainstream political parties the PPP and PML-N International Powers’ disputes and Media: In order to determine the political affiliations of private electronic and print media outlets both with the local and international players we need to understand the difference in policies which these different players have with regard to different policy matters. America and Britain disagree in Pakistan on the following policy matters: • The War on Terror: The War on Terror is American’s War aimed at securing Americans interests in South Asia. Britain is opposed to increased American influence in the religion and their fore opposes the War on Terror in the hope of weakling American’s influence in the region. • The Kashmir Dispute: America wants to de link the Kashmir issue from Pakistan India rivalry and makes it irrelevant. Britain wants the issue to be addressed through the United Nations and seeks to maintain the dispute in order to frustrate the American plans. • The Role of Military in Pakistan: Military is the primary institution which guarantees and secures American influence in the region. America has long worked to consolidate Pakistan militaries influence in the country, although the policy may be changing now. Britain seeks to weaken Pakistan military in the hope of weakening American influence in Pakistan. • The Baloch insurgency: Britain has long supported the Baloch insurgency in order to weaken Pakistan’s military and hence American influence in the region.

• Strong State Institutions: Britain being old colonial masters Pakistan has considerable influence on Pakistan’s bureaucracy and judiciary. America has never allowed these institutions to become strong enough to challenge the Pakistan military. PML-N and affiliated media: The PML-N is the party loyal to Americans, while the PPP has been historically close to Britain. The PML-N and the PPP has the same difference which Nationalist Islamist has from Pro Western Secularists. Having said that such differences are cost aside for political expediency and for the sake of colonial Master. Now that we are aware of differences between American and the British and between the PML-N and PPP it’s easy to determine the political affiliations of various media outlets. Let’s discuss each of them one by one: The Jung group which includes THE NEWS, The Daily Jang and the GEO TV Network. This group is owned by Mir Shakeel ur Rehman and is loyal to the American’s and supports the PML-N. Its agenda is openly Pro Western and is at the moment dominating by Pro Western Secularists. It receives funds from America and toes the American line on all policies matter. It was very close to the Musharraf regime but developed personal enmity towards the military dictator in the last year of his Military rule due to a personal dispute between Mir Shakeel ur Rehman and Musharraf. GEO TV Network has the largest viewer ship amongst private satellite channels and together with ARYONE Group and AAJ TV has helped America transform the political infrastructure of Pakistan from that of street politics to media centric politics. They have helped redefined political struggle in Pakistan with media being at the centre stage and made it easier for America to strengthen her grip and influence on the Pakistani politics. DAWN GROUP The DAWN GROUP which includes the Dawn newspaper, The Herald Tribune and DAWN NEWS Channel. This group is owned by the family of Mehmood Abdullah Haroon and is loyal to the British. The haroon family has strong ties with Britain since before the

partition of Pakistan. They support the PPP with many loyalists of Zulifqar Ali Bhutto and Benzir Bhutto and Pro British bureaucrats writing for the newspapers. They are very close to the British. Its present and former editors like Zafar Abbas and M.Ziauddin used to work for the British Broadcasting Corporation. Irfan Hussain one of the most influential columnist who writes weekly in Dawn was a former speech writer for Zulifqar Ali Bhutto. Ayesha Siddiqua, The other Pro British academic also writes regularly in the newspaper. The newspaper can be considered the guardian of British influence in the region and is amongst the most influential groups amongst all of the media outlets. NAWAIWAQT Group The NAWAIWAQT Group, which includes The Daily Nawaiwaqt, The Nation and the Waqt TV. This is owned by Majid Nizaami and is perhaps the only media outlet in Pakistan which is independent of foreign influence. It pursues its own policies and supports the PML-N. It is the most powerful voice of Islamist in Pakistan and has given tremendous resistance to American plans for the region.

PPP loyalist group: The Daily Times, The Friday Times, The Business Recorder and The Daily AAj Kal. This group is owned by PPP loyalist and the Governor Punjab Salman Taster. Its group editor Najam Sethi is also Pakistan’s correspondence for the influential British Newspaper, The Economist. He has been awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom Award 2009 by the European Agency the World Association of Newspapers. The group is loyal to the PPP and according to some reports have strong links to the British Secret Service the MI5. The Frontier Post is owned by Rehmat Shah Afridi who is loyal to the PPP and the British. Rehmat Shah Afridi was sentenced to ten year in Jail by the Nawaaz Sharif Govt. in 1988 on the charges of drug trafficking when he refuses to testify in different cases

against Benzir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari. Asif Ali Zardari, in one of his first action after the February 18th Election secured the release the Rehmat Shah Afridi on bail. ARY Group The ARY Group. This group is owned by Haji Abdur Razzaq. It is close to the MQM. EXPRESS Group: The EXPRESS Group which includes the Daily Express and EXPRESS NEWS Channel. This group is owned by Sultan Ali Lakhani. The group editor who is loyal to the PPP. The group maintains a high standard of reporting and gives ample space to independent reporting.

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