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Agenda setting theory

The Agenda-setting theory is the theory that the mass-news media have
a large influence on audiences by their choice of what stories to consider
newsworthy and how much prominence and space to give them. Agenda-setting
theory’s central axiom is salience transfer, or the ability of the mass media to
transfer importance of items on their mass agendas to the public agendas.

Agenda-setting theory describes the mass media as a tool that

influences public opinion by setting the agenda in public discourse. The theory
shows how the media affect public opinion, not necessarily by supporting one
view over another, but by emphasizing certain issues in the public sphere.
According to agenda-setting theory, the news does not tell us what to believe, but
it does tell us what issues and debates are worthy of our attention.

Explanation of theory.

A recurrent correlation has been shown between media coverage of an

issue and the perceived importance of that issue among the general public. The
theory explains this correlation as the result of “media gate keeping.” This is the
controlled, selective system for emphasizing certain stories over others, and for
allowing some issues to be discussed in the news while others are not.

There is some debate over whether media gatekeeping is simply a

reflection of public opinion, or whether public opinion is actually shaped by it.
Shanto Iyengar and Donald Kinder (1987)

have shown, in News that Matters, that the perceived value of a news
story is determined largely by certain presentation techniques. In their study, the
placement of a story among others and the way it was emphasized had a strong
effect on its perceived importance. The priming, or emphasizing of certain facets
of politics over others, has a further effect on public opinion. None of these

studies have definitively shown a direct causal relationship between media

presentation and public opinion. It is still unclear whether we shape the media,
the media shape us, or we and the news shape each other, but the correlation is
very significant.

There is a broader correlation between the agendas of the media, the

public, and policy makers (politicians and public officials). One or two often shape
the other. It can be said not only that the media can affect the agenda of public
discussion, but also that it can shape public policy.


In 1963, Bernard Cohen was the first to articulate agenda-setting theory in

its current form. His ideas were perhaps based on the earlier writings of journalist
Walter Lippmann. While Lippman did not use the words “agenda-setting theory”
in his writings, his concepts were very similar. According to Lippman, people are
more responsive to the pseudo-environment of mental imagery than they are to
reality. To Lippman, this meant that the mass media would have a greater effect
on public consciousness than the interactions and events of our daily lives


The Media Agenda is the set of issues addressed by media sources and
the public agenda which are issues the public consider important (Miller, 2005).
Agenda-setting theory was introduced in 1972 by Maxwell McCombs and Donald

Shaw in their ground breaking study of the role of the media in 1968
presidential campaign in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The theory explains the
correlation between the rate at which media cover a story and the extent that
people think that this story is important. This correlation has repeatedly been
shown to occur.

In the dissatisfaction of the magic bullet theory, Maxwell McCombs and

Donald Shaw introduced agenda setting theory in the Public Opinion Quarterly.

The theory was derived from their study that took place in Chapel Hill, NC, where
the researchers surveyed 100 undecided voters during the 1968 presidential
campaign on what they thought were key issues and measured that against the
actual media content. The ranking of issues was almost identical. The
conclusions matched their hypothesis: The mass media positioned the agenda
for public opinion by emphasizing specific topics (Hamm, 1998). Subsequent
research on agenda-setting theory provided evidence for the cause-and-effect
chain of influence being debated by critics in the field. One particular study made
leaps to prove the cause-effect relationship. The study was conducted by Yale
researchers, Shanto Iyengar, Mark Peters, and Donald Kinder. The researchers
had three groups of subjects fill out questionnaires about their own concerns and
then each group watched different evening news programs, each of which
emphasized a different issue. After watching the news for four days, the subjects
again filled out questionnaires and the issues that they rated as most important
matched the issues they viewed on the evening news (Griffin, 2005). The study
demonstrated a cause-and-effect relationship between media agenda and public
agenda. Since the theory’s conception, more than 350 studies have been
performed to test the theory. The theory has evolved beyond the media's
influence on the public's perceptions of issue salience to political candidates and
corporate reputation (Carroll & McCombs, 2003).

Important Aspects of Theory

The agenda-setting function has multiple components

1. Media Agenda - issues discussed in the media (newspapers,

television, radio)

2. Public Agenda - issues discussed and personally relevant to

members of the public

3. Policy Agenda - issues that policy makers consider important


4. Corporate Agenda - issues that big business and corporations

consider important (corporate)

These four agendas are interrelated. Two basic assumptions underlie

most research on agenda-setting: (1) The press and the media do not reflect
reality, they filter and shape it; (2) media concentration on a few issues and
subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other


Research has focused on characteristics of audience, the issues, and the

media that might predict variations in the agenda setting effect.

• Need for Orientation: Research done by Weaver in 1977 suggested

that individuals vary on their need for orientation. Need for orientation is a
combination of the individual’s interest in the topic and uncertainty about the
issue. The higher levels of interest and uncertainty produce higher levels of need
for orientation. So the individual would be considerably likely to be influenced by
the media stories (psychological aspect of theory) (Miller, 2005).

• Issue Obtrusiveness: Research performed by Zucker (1978)

suggested that an issue is obtrusive if most members of the public have had
direct contact with it, and less obtrusive if audience members have not had direct
experience. This means that agenda setting results should be strongest for
unobtrusive issues because audience members must rely on media for
information on these topics (Miller, 2005).

Various Levels of Agenda Setting

First-level agenda setting : this is the level that is most traditionally

studied by researchers. In this level the media use objects or issues to influence
the public. In this level the media suggest what the public should think about

(amount of coverage).

Second-level agenda setting: In this level the media focuses on the

characteristics of the objects or issues. In this level the media suggest how the
people should think about the issue. There are two types of attributes: cognitive

(subtantative, or topics) and affective (evaluative, or positive, negative,


· Intermedia agenda setting (salience transfer among the media)

Important Concepts

• Gatekeeping -- Control over the selection of content discussed in

the media; what the public know and care about at any given time is mostly a
product of media gatekeeping.

• Priming -- Effects of particular, prior context on retrieval and

interpretation of information. The media's content will provide a lot of time and
space to certain issues, making these issues more accessible and vivid in the
public's mind (Miller, 2005).

• Framing -- Framing is a process of selective control over media

content or public communication. Framing defines how a certain piece of media
content is packaged so it will influence particular interpretations. This is

accomplished through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion, and

elaboration. This is central to second-level agenda setting.

Usage of Theory

• political advertising

• political campaigns and debates


• business news and corporate reputation (Carroll & McCombs,


• business influence on federal policy (Berger, 2001)

• legal systems, trials (Ramsey & McGuire, 2000)

• role of groups, audience control, public opinion

• public relations (Carroll & McCombs, 2003)


• Media users may not be as ideal as the theory assumes. People

may not be well-informed, deeply engaged in public affairs, thoughtful and
skeptical. Instead, they may pay only casual and intermittent attention to public
affairs and remain ignorant of the details.

• For people who have made up their minds, the effect is weakened.

• News media cannot create or conceal problems, they may only

alter the awareness, priorities and salience people attached to a set of problems.


The Agenda-Setting Theory comes from a scientific perspective, because

it predicts that if people are exposed to the same media, they will place
importance on the same issues. According to Chaffee & Berger’s 1997 criteria for
scientific theories, Agenda-Setting is a good theory.

• It has explanitory power because it explains why most people

prioritize the same issues as important.

• It has predictive power because it predicts that if people are

exposed to the same media, they will feel the same issues are important.

• It is parsimonious because it isn’t complex, and it is easy to


• It can be proven false. If people aren’t exposed to the same media,

they won’t feel the same issues are important.

• It’s meta-theoretical assumptions are balanced on the scientific side

• It is a springboard for further research.

• It has organizing power because it helps organize existing

knowledge of media effects.


Actions surrounding the O.J. case and the Clinton Scandal are both
excellent examples of Agenda-Setting in action. During these historic events, the
media was ever-present. The placement of full page, color articles and top
stories on news programming made it clear that Americans should place these
events as important issues. Some people believed O.J. was guilty, and others
believed he was innocent.

Some believed Clinton should have been impeached, and others thought
otherwise. Therefore, the media wasn’t extremely successful in telling us what to
think on these issues, but most Americans did believe these were both important
issues for a long period of time.

Geo strategic importance of Pakistan.

Located in the northwestern part of the South Asian subcontinent,

Pakistan became a state as a result of the partition of British India on August 14,
1947. Pakistan annexed Azad (Free) Kashmir after the Indo-Pakistani War of
1947-48. Initially, Pakistan also included the northeastern sector of the
subcontinent, where Muslims are also in the majority. The East Wing and West
Wing of Pakistan were, however, separated by 1,600 kilometers of hostile Indian

Territory. The country's East Wing, or East Pakistan, became the independent
state of Bangladesh in December 1971.

Pakistan occupies a position of great geo strategic importance, bordered

by Iran on the west, Afghanistan on the northwest, China on the northeast, India
on the east, and the Arabian Sea on the south. The total land area is estimated
at 803,940 square kilometers.

US interests in the regions to counter the Growing China, nuclear Iran,

terrorist Afghanistan, and to benefit from the market of India. Security and
Business are two main US interests in the region while Pakistan is playing a front
line role against terrorism. Today the political scenario of the region is tinged with
pre emption policy and US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear
program, India’s geopolitical muscles(new strategic deal with US) to gain the
hegemony and to counter the ‘The Rise of China’ which has earned all the
qualities to change unipolar world into Bipolar world. In all these issues, Pakistan
is directly or indirectly involved, especially after Al Qaeda operations. The
American think tanks have repeatedly accepted that war against terror could
never be won without the help of Pakistan. Pakistan has rigorously fought, and
ongoing military operation in Waziristan is also targeting the suspected Taliban in
the bordering area. Baluchistan and Waziristan conflicts are posing threats to any
economic project like IPI gas pipeline. Negative role of India, US, Iran in this
conflict ridden area. Kashmir is flash point, accelerating nuclear race in the South
Asia. Instable governments in Pakistan have contributed in weakening the strong

Stephen Cohn describes this importance “While history has been unkind
to Pakistan, its geography has been its greatest benefit. It has resource rich area
in the north-west, people rich in the north-east.” Pakistan is a junction of South
Asia, West Asia and Central Asia, a way from resource efficient countries to
resource deficient countries. The world is facing energy crisis and terrorism.
Pakistan is a route for transportation, and a front line state against terrorism

Agenda setting theory in the context of Pakistan.

1. Media of any country is reflection of that country. It shows that how

person behave and live in their country. The way of expressing news, way of
talking of politicians in political debates and discussion programs shows the
behavior of people of that country. Although media’s responsibility is to spread
true stories but media should be careful in this regard. They have to adopt such a
way in which they could aware public without impacting negatively their mind sets
and make them able to protest in a true manner which could result oriented.
McCombs and Shaw assumed that “the mass media sets the agenda for political
campaigns, influencing public attitudes toward desired issues”. Hence we can
say that in Pakistan the responsibility of media is much more then any media in
the world, because Pakistan needs a big change and only media is now, as
much powerful. At present media is the only source which is easily accessible by
all walks of people through various electronic appliances i.e. TV, Radio, Internet,
News Papers and now mobile phones also used by people to aware of events
every time. Media affects people’s perceptions and priorities their thinking about
the political contents. Media shapes the public’s behavior about the issues and
plays vital role in highlighting certain attributes of issues. Gatekeepers of the
media i.e. (editors, news editors, and other journalists) they all play central role in
shaping the media agenda which becomes public agenda after sometime.

2. In Pakistan media are now independent with the emergence of new

century. There are numbered of news channels that have maximum coverage
throughout the country. Media contribute a lot to develop public knowledge but
even after years of success, media could not alter public’s attitude towards
issues. Media promulgate issues in a way that it raise public immediately just
after the news bulletin whereas public mostly do not know that what should be
their role and reaction in that particular issue. Media should discourage smoothly
such attitude of public. Demonstrations and protests are good to increase
pressure towards solution of any problem but there should be a proper way to
express which should result oriented.

3. With the passage of time reputation of Pakistan’s media have sullied

due to its failure in thoroughly comprehending affairs. It seems that media
contributes to multiply wording over issues and crisis instead of spreading true
root causes and facts of the issues. Our media coverage of political issues is
heavily episodic instead of thematic. There are numbered of political talk shows
and debates on all news channels of Pakistan. Any issue discussed in those
programs has no ending and determining words that could help people to
understand that either there is solution to these issues or not? Every political
program discuses same issue under different names of the program. There is no
difference in the information displayed by each program even the views of
politicians from different political parties give no hope and track towards the
solution of issues. If these programs demonstrate issues successfully then it
could help people to pressurize government in a right way to solve the issue.

4. Media and Judiciary are two independent pillars to save the country
from sudden slippage. Judiciary put down number of good decisions in her little
age of independence which is only one year. Whereas media is older then
judiciary and it shows no positive alterations in people’s attitude towards the
ridiculous change. Pakistan’s media should understand that it presents the
country which is of high importance not only for Islamic world but also for peace
in whole world. Media should become highly sensitive towards its responsibilities
while presenting this country to the world and guiding the people of Pakistan to
bring out the country from the sea of issues. Pakistan’s media tell the world that
what is Pakistan in fact, what think of Pakistani people towards world issue. It
depicts the culture of Pakistan. It is its responsibility to tell the whole world that
what is Islam and what are implications of Islam in Pakistan. Most of hot
channels of media are highly politicized whereas they should cover cultural and
religious norms and values of Pakistan. Some of the media channels are totally
Islamic whereas others are highly ultra mod. This shows existence of two totally
different cultures in Pakistan whereas Pakistan was achieved on the name of
Islam which has one Book, one Prophet (P.B.U.H), one Allah and one culture.

5. This type of media with totally two different sectors creating a cultural
gap in Pakistan. This cultural gap is increasing hatred groups. Our media
showing world existence of two totally different cultures in Pakistan and directs
people to divide in two groups one with fundamental thoughts and other with
secular thoughts. For a peaceful environment and a democratic culture, it is
important for all media channels to preserve real culture of Pakistan which is
neither extremist and, nor ultra mod. Francis Fukuyama, (1995) says that, “A
thriving civil society depends on a people’s habits, customs, and ethics- attributes
that can be shaped only indirectly through conscious political action and must
otherwise be nourished through the increased awareness and respect for
culture”. In Pakistan we have no independent and transparent political system
but luckily now we have the independent media. Access of media and power is
far more then political parties hence media can play major role to turn the fate of

6. Pakistan’s culture is Islamic which gives lesson of temperateness,

moderateness, rectitude and frugality. By dividing the nation in two groups of
culture we are creating cultural gap which underpins the true democratic codes.
Media could play a central role in streamlined the whole nation over one agenda
and guide it towards one particular destination. Already existing some of
extremist groups not only violate human rights but also spread wrong concepts
about Islam and develop false picture of Islam and Pakistan to the world. To
minimize such groups and to seldom the power of such hatred and extremist
groups all Pakistani media should display true culture of Pakistan. All the news
channels and drama channel should adopt national dress code of Pakistan which
is both Islamic and Pakistani. Unfortunately models, actors, reporter and anchors
of media channels follow such a way of speaking, negotiating and apparels which
are not true picture of Pakistan and Islam.

7. In the end I would like to summaries the whole discussion by

recommending the media to enhance the knowledge of public about any issue so
that they could participate shrewdly to manipulate the mess.

Further media have to develop its status in the public by touching the
invisible bonds of society means its culture. Although we have different cultures
in our country but the origin of all the cultures is Islam. Media should
communicate with the people as a part of their society. Hence our media should
take care of culture of Pakistan to integrate the people towards the prosperity
and development while living within Islamic boundaries.

State controlled media agenda.

Television was launched in Pakistan in 1964 as a state-controlled

enterprise, the immediate motive being to establish a direct channel of mass
communication for President Ayub who was due to stand for re-election.

From the outset it was meant to be a government propaganda outfit, and

to this day its character has remained unaltered despite such cosmetic changes
as the creation of a corporation governed by articles of incorporation. The
government appoints its main executives and they are replaced with almost each
change of government. Similar, though less strict, has been the state’s control
over radio broadcasting. Less than a decade ago a private television network
was created by a semi-official agent, the Shalimar Recording Company, but it
was not allowed to present news or current affairs programmes and what it was
allowed to telecast had to be approved by the official censor.

Thus, for its perception of enemies or elements hostile to Pakistan the

electronic media is fed largely by state functionaries. Of course, it is free to fall
back upon the legacy of the pre-partition politics in the same manner as official
spokesmen or the print media do.

Media agenda for muslims unity.

Two other enemy images have been shaped by Pakistan’s adoption of the
Muslim world’s causes as its own. The Crusades still provide an important theme
for fiction writers and so does the expulsion of Muslims from Spain in the 15th
century. In both contexts Pakistan is seen as part of a trans-national community

against which Christian powers have waged a ceaseless war through different
means. Quite often the hostility displayed by the colonial power against the
subcontinent’s Muslims is presented as part of this global confrontation. This
concept has lately received strength from the view promoted by religious parties,
and shared to a considerable extent by policymakers, that Pakistan is a target of
the West because the latter is afraid of the Muslim world’s unity and its potential
in both economic and political terms. It was in this context that Pakistani people’s
solidarity with the Palestinians grew and that resulted in the casting first of
Zionism and then Israel in the role of enemies.

Ptv agenda about Kashmir.

With a view to facilitating public acceptance of the enemy image, Pakistan

television has been offering, besides news items, feature productions and
discussions in current affairs programmes. The features are usually enlarged
versions of news reports of the conflict in Kashmir -- the heroic resistance put up
by ordinary and generally resourceless Kashmiri men and women against a
merciless foe, the enormous sacrifices borne by them in the cause of freedom
and justice, and the utter inhumanity and bestiality of their oppressors. The
current affairs programmes offer a recapitulation of history -- how the partition
principle, according to which princely states were required to join one of the new
dominions -- India or Pakistan --- in accordance with the wishes of the population
was subverted by the Maharaja of Kashmir in collusion with the Indian rulers,
how the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions calling for a plebiscite in
the disputed territory were frustrated by Indian obduracy, how important for
peace in the region the resolution of the Kashmir problem is, and how impossible
and immoral it would be for Pakistan to give up the cause of the Kashmiri people

Media agenda against communism.

Afghanistan appeared as a hostile country in the perceptions of both the

state and the public soon after the emergence of Pakistan, because of its
irredentist claims and its opposition to Pakistan’s admission to the United

Nations. But by the time television came to Pakistan the peak in hostility between
the two countries had passed, and references to the northern neighbour’s hostile
actions and attitudes on TV were few and scattered. Even when Pakistan
became a party to the war against the Soviet-supported regime in Afghanistan
the enemy there did not receive special attention and PTV was content with
reproducing the image that had been created by the West.

This attitude was in continuation of the somewhat ill-defined policy

adopted by the state media throughout the cold war period. Although Pakistan
belonged to Western defence pacts and TV did sometimes present foreign
features in which communism in general and the Soviet Union in particular were
treated as enemies of the 'free world', it avoided relating these enemy sketches
to Pakistani people’s concerns

Islamization slogan during Zia regime.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was opposed by a majority of the

local Afghanis who started an insurgency movement against them. Many took
refuge in neighboring Pakistan, which besides offering them shelter and food,
provided training and arms to resist the occupation forces. Pakistan’s meager
resources were insufficient to prepare the Mujahedeen (nomenclature given to
the locals who took up arms against the Soviet troops) to combat the mighty
Soviet forces. The involvement of the rival superpower, USA, was considered
essential for success.

US administration under President Carter, a democrat, did view the Soviet

aggression with deep concern and conveyed their displeasure by boycotting the
Moscow Olympic Games in 1980. They were, however, not very keen on getting
militarily involved in the region. Carter did make a few overtures to Pakistan to
help it to stand up to the Soviet might but the economic and military aid offered
was so paltry that Zia spurned it, calling it peanuts.

Since President Carter was a peanut farmer before being elected as the
US President, Zia’s unintended pun made international headlines. With the
swearing-in of a Republican Ronald Reagan as the President of USA in 1981,
US policy towards the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan hardened. The new
administration saw an opportunity to take revenge from USSR for their role in
USA’s defeat and humiliation in Vietnam. A decision to actively collaborate with
Pakistan in arming and funding the Afghan Mujahedeen was arrived at. For Zia’s
regime whose legitimacy was increasingly being questioned in both the domestic
and foreign fronts, the circumstances presented a unique opportunity to rescue
his own faltering image besides salvaging the deteriorating defense
preparedness of Pakistan.

khuda ke man!nee waloo aik ho jao.

The Soviet invasion, which sparked Afghan resistance, initially involved an

estimated 30,000 troops, a force that ultimately grew to 100,000. The mujahidin
were supported by aid from the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia,
channeled through Pakistan, and from Iran. Although the USSR had superior
weapons and complete air control, the rebels successfully eluded them. The
conflict largely settled into a stalemate, with Soviet and government forces
controlling the urban areas, and the Afghan guerrillas operating fairly freely in
mountainous rural regions. As the war progressed, the rebels improved their
organization and tactics and began using imported and captured weapons,
including U.S. antiaircraft missiles, to neutralize the technological advantages of
the USSR.

The American military assistance, the Saudi funding, the Pakistani

collaboration and the indomitable fighting spirit of the local and foreign
Mujahedeen with the slogan (khuda ke man!nee waloo aik ho jao)eventually took
their toll on the Soviet troops in Afghanistan and by 1988, a decision to withdraw
had been arrived at. The Americans had achieved their primary objective of
mortally weakening their arch rivals and with it the importance and utility of

Pakistan as an ally had faded. Pakistan was no more relevant in their world

On the 17th of August 1988, General Zia, the strongman of Pakistan was
killed in an air crash while flying in a PAF C-130 transport plane along with a
number of senior army Generals of the Pakistan Army and the US ambassador
to Pakistan. The mystery sadly remains unresolved to this day and it has given
rise to a plethora of conspiracy theories. Depending on whom you speak to
fingers would be pointed at any one or a combination of the following: USA’s CIA,
Indian RAW, Afghan Khad, Israeli Moss ad, USSR’s KGB and senior officers
within the Pakistan Army.

Production of Taliban’s.

In 1986, Karmal resigned and Mohammad Najibullah became head of a

collective leadership. In Feb., 1988, President Mikhail Gorbachev announced the
withdrawal of USSR troops, which was completed one year later. Soviet citizens
had become increasingly discontented with the war, which dragged on without
success but with continuing casualties. In the spring of 1992, Najibullah's
government collapsed and, after 14 years of rule by the People's Democratic
party, Kabul fell to a coalition of mujahidin under the military leadership of Ahmed
Shah Massoud.

The war left Afghanistan with severe political, economic, and ecological
problems. More than 1 million Afghans died in the war and 5 million became
refugees in neighboring countries. In addition, 15,000 Soviet soldiers were killed
and 37,000 wounded. Economic production was drastically curtailed, and much
of the land laid waste.

At the end of the war more than 5 million mines saturated approximately
2% of the country, where they will pose a threat to human and animal life well
into the 21st cent. The disparate guerrilla forces that had triumphed proved

unable to unite, and Afghanistan became divided into spheres of control. These
political divisions set the stage for the rise of the Taliban later in the decade.

9/11 and war on terror.

Any debate of US – Pakistan relationship in the year 2001 must start from
the events of 11 September 2001, when two hijacked planes flew into the twin
towers in New York, one slammed in the Pentagon in Washington DC and the
fourth one crashed in the fields of the state of Pennsylvania. After determining
that Al Qaeda operating from Afghanistan had masterminded the operations, the
US administration demanded the Taliban government in Afghanistan to expel Al
Qaeda from their country and hand over Osama bin Laden, the head of Al Qaeda
along with his deputies to US custody to face criminal charges. When the Taliban
refused to do either, USA began massive preparation to attack Afghanistan with
a view to remove the Taliban from power and capture or eliminate the top
hierarchy of Al Qaeda.

The territory of Pakistan provided the only viable access to the land and
air assault against Afghanistan and Pakistan under General Musharraf was put
on notice to either cooperate or be prepared to face the consequences.
Musharraf wisely chose the first option but his critics blame him for accepting all
the demands of the US ultimatum when some of them could have been
negotiated; and for not seeking more favorable terms for Pakistan. This charge is
not entirely true because not all the demands of USA were acceded to by
Pakistan. Rather than utilize the entire air space of the country as demanded, US
air power was given a specific corridor through the province of Baluchistan.

It was also agreed that the air bases being provided to USA in Pakistan
will only be used for logistics support and emergency recoveries and these will
not be utilized to conduct any offensive actions. By and large USA abided by the
ground rules that had been laid out between the two governments. Yes, it is true
Musharraf could have negotiated a better economic package for the country but
with his military background, his bias was towards the improvement of the

defense of the country, which had been buffeted by the dual blow of a weak
economy and sanctions in the last decade. Like his predecessor, General Zia,
Musharraf turned overnight from an outcast to a favourite son of USA.

Media issue priming and framing.

While Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan was in progress, the

storming of the Indian Parliament by an outfit operating from the Pakistani soil in
December 2001 brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war. India responded
aggressively by mobilising its entire forces and placing them on the border ready
to initiate hostilities at a moment’s notice. Pakistan on its part refused to be
cowed down by the Indian threat and took full defensive measures to counter any
Indian military aggression. For the next eight months the military forces of two
nuclear armed nations stood eyeball to eyeball while the rest of the world waited
with baited breadth hoping a conventional conflict that could lead to a nuclear
conflagration is avoided.this issue was of major public intrest in this conflict zone
but media kill down this issue priming war on terror as media agenda.

Musharraff a favourite son of USA.

The Waziristan military campaign was a disaster as it had practically no

support among the public in Pakistan. A truce was eventually declared that upset
the US administration, which put further pressure on Musharraf to eliminate the
Taliban sanctuaries at any cost. Musharraf was caught in the horns of dilemma.
He did initiate half-heartedly further military campaigns in the Tribal Belts without
achieving success. The charge of Musharraf playing a double game started to fly
thick and fast from the US administration and their think-tanks. They failed to
appreciate the difficulties Musharraf had to face because of the smassive anti
American sentiments prevalent not only in Pakistan but in the entire Muslim
world. The US invasion of Iraq on a false pretext and their inability to rein in the
rampant Israeli alleged atrocities in Palestine added further fuel to the fire.

Musharraf’s inability to satisfy the US dictates started to sow the seeds of

doubts among the US leadership about his further utility. His loss of control over
the country’s affairs after the firing of the Chief Justice of Pakistan on March
2007 weakened his position further. He was no more indispensable for the
Americans. The signing of the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) that in a
single stroke waived off all criminal and corruption charges against all politicians
and bureaucrats is said to have been orchestrated with the support of USA.
Musharraf was forced to resign and leave the country in 2008. Asif Ali Zardari,
the widower of the slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto is currently the President of
Pakistan. Although the power of administration is supposed to rest with the Prime
Minister in a parliamentary form of government, Zardari as the head of the ruling
party PPP and the President of the federation is the de facto ruler.

West has developed a paranoia about pakistan .

After Benazir Bhutto’s assassination targeting Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal

has turned an occasional and substantial statement given by the presidential
candidates of America. West has developed paranoia about Pakistan nuclear
installations that Al-Qaeda can get hold of them. But the Psycho-analysis of
terrorist organizations illustrate that they would prefer to use more of chemical
weapons for achieving there objectives rather than nuclear weapons.

It can be argued that the relevant strategic significance of Pakistan with

states within the region and outside the region that consider it as extra regional
power regardless of status of Pakistan’s relation with them is a strong challenge
for America to deal with. This challenge weakens America and its western ally’s
geo-strategic ambitions in this part of the globe. The witting material of US
analysts and think tanks focusing on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, post 9-11
Pakistan and most importantly targeting Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal are not
random thoughts but carefully planned long term policy perspectives aiming to
weaken Pakistan internally and use them against them with external absurdities.

In order to give physical reality to the military intervention in Pakistan,

America has initiated to create a scenario where it would rationalize its prospect
by using the feeble notion of nuclear assets against Pakistan.

The super power needs to understand the credible security provided at the
nuclear facility cites in Pakistan and not underestimate the command and control
system. The political and economic turmoil in Pakistan has surely contributed
towards such apprehensions made by different countries. But it is as clear as a
crystal ball that there is no link between Pakistan’s political turmoil and the
crashing of economy with the nuclear facilities. Glancing in the history.

American media turned their guns towards Pakistan.

After the attack on Afghanistan, America turned their guns towards

Pakistan because Pakistan is the only Islamic nuclear country. It appointed
Mehsood in Pakistan and removed Bin-Laden picture from front.

Jewish American media was constantly busy in propaganda against

Pakistan’s nuclear meanwhile former dictator Parvez Musharraf and current NRO
President Zardari enjoying their holidays in America and United Kingdom.

American media was mounting pressure on American and Pakistani

governments to start war in Swat region. Pakistani government tried many times
to install barbed wires on Afghan-Pakistan border as according to Afghan
president Hamid Karzai and American media the Taliban militants were
spreading terror in Afghanistan from across the Pak-Afghan border and hide into
Pakistan. But NATO and Afghan governments always opposed Pakistani actions
and on the contrary Afghan forces opened fire on Pakistan’s troops.

American media helped its government to engage Pakistani troops in a

war inside Pakistan against Pro-American Taliban militants. When now Pakistani
troops successfully completed their operation, the American media has again
started new propaganda against Pakistan Army.

New propaganda against Pakistan.

Now American media started a new propaganda against Pakistan’s

nuclear program and Army because U.S government is preparing to take
another step forward in their 9/11 plan and want to deploy their forces inside the
Pakistan. In first phase CIA deployed Black Water and captured a big area at
Karachi seaport because America is planning to transfer its Army equipment from
Iraq to Pakistan for their future war inside Pakistan.

One thing is very much clear that America is ready to start another war in
Pakistan. American media and allegedly few Pakistani TV channels and local
government are helping America in their plan.

Non serious Western media.

American and NATO troops killed thousands of innocent civilians in

Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan but American media never highlighted anything
because may be America enjoying Muslims massacres and its media helping to
divert the opinion of western public towards non serious issues.

United States of America is supposed to be one of the most advanced

countries of the world. It also has one of the highest rates of rape in any country
in the world. According to a FBI report, in the year 1990, every day on an
average 1756 cases of rape were committed in U.S.A alone. Later another report
said that on an average everyday 1900 cases of rapes are committed in USA.
The year was not mentioned. May be it was 1992 or 1993. May be the Americans
got ‘bolder’ in the following years.

Policemen in freedom loving country America were reported removing

dresses of women in prisons in front of camera, but American media remained
involved in highlighting fake flogging incident that never happened rather in Swat.

Media and Asif Ali Zardari.


But despite the attacks on the media in a democratic Pakistan, most of the
Pakistani media won’t be questioning these democratic imposters about their
credentials. No one will be asking them if harassing the media is democracy. Of
course this is the least of their sins and the charge sheet is long. But this is the
same Pakistani media that, three years ago, welcomed Pakistan’s current crop of
politicians as true democrats and refused to question them about their tainted

That’s understandable since the villain at the time was Mr. Musharraf.
Most Pakistanis wanted to see him out of power for many right reasons
[democracy being probably at the bottom of the list, if not there at all].

But in the heat of the excitement to kick out Musharraf, no one had time to
question if Pakistan’s tested, tried and failed political elite is the right
replacement. Anyone trying to pose this question was quickly dismissed as a
supporter of the dictator. The Pakistani media, out of good intention, promoted
these ‘democrats’ because that was the politically correct thing to do then.

Today Pakistan suffers because of this indiscretion on the part of most

Pakistanis and on the part of our media.

The point is that the Pakistani media needs to get tougher. We shouldn’t
accept a flawed democracy just because Washington approves it.

Sania Mirza marsrying Shoaib Malik.

As and when the news was leaked about the Sania Mirza marrying Shoaib
Malik ex-captain of Pakistan cricket team there was a harakiri of sorts in India
and the media coverage for this news was given as if there was an ongoing
tension between India & Pakistan, where from NDTV's Barkha Dutt went on to air
a show just on this issue and all the other channels followed, and were asking all
sorts of stupid questions, whom will you support when an India-Pakistan match is
going on and then asking some personal questions like when did you both start
to see each other.

I mean there has to be a line drawn what Media really want to show
people in terms of news, when there are so many problems much bigger than
Sania-Shoaib marriage this news bit is given way too much of importance and
are just into grabbing eyeballs than covering news.

Pakistanis Public questions about democracy.

1. Why political parties maintain secret armed armies to intimidate

and kill opponents?

2. Why political leaders maintain assets, homes and whole lives, in

some cases, in foreign countries?

3. Why no politician has been seen on the ground helping flood-hit

Pakistanis across the nation? Not a single one?

4. Why political parties have failed to produce any fresh political

talent in the past 25 years?

5. Why longtime party leaderships can’t change?

6. Why internal party elections are a sham?

7. Why fake holders of fake college degrees, murderers, thieves,

rapists, etc. continue to hold positions in most parties?

8. Why most politicians are also hoarders of basic food items and
possibly responsible for the worst inflation and food shortages in
Pakistan just over the past decade?

9. Why some of the senior most Pakistani politicians and

government officials hold foreign passports?

The list is long. But without asking the right questions, there is little chance
that a flawed democracy will survive in Pakistan. The only reason this flawed
system survives is because some Pakistanis won’t ask the hard questions. This

gives foreign powers the chance to push for their candidates in Islamabad. We
need to ask the tough questions. And media should lead the way.

But Profit hungry media mongers agenda.

Most of the Pakistani media industry is owned and controlled by private

firms and individuals, so it is not possible to access any financial information on
scientific grounds, but with some exceptions. Revenue sources, expenditures
and financial values of these media houses are an inaccessible secret which is
nothing but another ‘ugly secret’ of our society. Everyone knows something, but
no one dares talk. It is evident that a few channels are being financed by
mysterious sources else if any economic rule is applied, some of the channels
must have been closed down by now.

Issues that are more important for society and have to deal with the
masses such as water shortage load shedding public health infrastructure wages
poverty etc, should be pursued by the media to a point where a solution is
eventually reached. Flashing stories that are not pursued to the end tend to
produce no outcome in the long run. In a country where a plane crash covers up
the fake degrees issues, a shoe throwing incident puts coverage of country wide
flooding on the back burner and a bomb blast covers up everything else. There is
a dire need to set out priorities and realize how crucial the media social
responsibility is.

War of words . (Dr.Muhammad Safeer Awan, IIUI.)

Due to the myth-making capabilities of American corporate media,

September 11 has become a metaphor of war, destruction, and numbness of
human feelings, which did not end on that fateful day. It is still continuing, making
its appearance in various parts of the world, most especially in Pakistan where
September 11 happens almost every other day. These remarks were made by
Assistant Professor Department of English (FLL) of the International Islamic
University Islamabad (IIUI) Dr. Muhammad Safeer Awan

Dr Safeer said that since September 11 attacks, the Twin Towers have
gone up in flames again and again in a slew of well-regarded works of fiction,
films, documentaries and passionate prose analyses.

The impact of the presentation was accentuated due to the powerful

media images that the US media had been presenting on such news channels as
CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC and other corporate media outlets.

Dr Safeer also analysed the myth-making capabilities of the American

corporate media to show how September 11 has become a metaphor of war,
destruction, and numbness of human feelings. He said that it did not end on that
fateful day. It is a continuing present, making its appearance in various parts of
the world, most especially in Pakistan where September 11 happens almost
every other day.

Dr Safeer also questioned the credibility of the embedded journalists who

accompany US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. To him it is a strategic
ploy to control the flow of information from the conflict zones to the public, thus
raising doubts about the authenticity of the information disseminated for public


• Bernard C. Cohen, The Press and Foreign Policy, p. 120, princeton

university press, 1963

• Maxwell McCombs, Donald Shaw, 'The Agenda-Setting Function of

Mass Media', in The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 2.
(Summer, 1972), pp. 176-187.