By Dr Shahid Qureshi:
The recent exposure of India run media networks by EU DisinfoLab, a Brussels-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) rocked the whole world. The findings detail how 10 defunct but U.N.-accredited NGOs were “revived” in order to influence the EU and the U.N. Human Rights Council. It also uncovered over 750 fake local media outlets used to spread disinformation. The EU DisinfoLab report, entitled “Indian Chronicles,” said the operation was led by the Srivastava Group, a business conglomerate that came into the spotlight in India after organizing a visit to the disputed Kashmir region for far-right members of the European Parliament in late 2019.
The PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s recent launch of Media attack on Pakistan and its army seems to have roots in the strategy adopted by India backed media houses, NGOs, ‘Bankers and International financial mafia’ to question the legitimacy of the elections on 25 July 2018, being conducted by the interim civilian government as per constitution.
The fact of the matter is that over 70% of the negative news items published in international media has its origins inside Pakistan via journalists, academics and NGOs. What was pakistan and its establishment doing when all the above was going on? It is very fashionable to bash Pakistani military, security institutions and demonise military leaders as Maryam Nawaz, Nawaz Sharif both convicted criminals are doing.
The write-ups by Bloomberg, Economist, Financial Times, New York Times, Foreign Affairs have single tone agenda presenting former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as victim who is a convicted criminal by court of law after a prolonged trial and hearings and Pakistan Army Bashing’. The BBC program anchor of Hard Talk aired on 12 July 2018, Stephen Sackur, really grilled and dressed down Hameed Haroon CEO ‘Dawn Newspaper and Media’ Group last week. This group is also known for infamous ‘Dawn Leaks’, by Maryam Nawaz Sharif. The narrative of Dawn Leaks was to create split between Military and Civilians as well as bashing Pakistan Army. It was the same anchor who interviewed Nawaz Sharif’s some Hassan Nawaz about his apartments. BBC Hard Talk also recently grilled and roasted London based Isahq Dar former finance minister of PML-N regimes. Mr. Dar was used to scripted interviews by Pakistani media. It is highly likely that there will be an investigative documentary on ‘Sharif’s Corruption’ is in the making or already made.
Pakistani media exercise its ‘freedom of speech’ option selectively for example it did not properly cover Malik Riaz’s plea bargain with the British National Crime Agency (NCA) on money laundering. A large section of Pakistani media was partner in land mafia’s criminal activities by advertising its illegal projects and especially targeting overseas Pakistanis.
In recent years Pakistani electronic media has expanded like wild bushes as they have over 20, TV channels and over 120 newspapers. There are over 150 million mobile phone users targeted by marketing companies by sms and text messages.
A senior UK journalist and writer told me that: ‘A UK body has done its research project on how to influence people using mobile phones by sms marketing’. Pakistan has over 30 million daily Facebook Users, 51 million daily WhatsApp users, and 10 million Twitter users. In this situation local TV channels and official channels have narrow margins to kill or downplay stories as social media is overactive and too resilient. That also kills the narratives toed by the so-called international media and its stingers in Pakistan.
“Arl Bernstein is the American reporter who exposed the Watergate Affair and thus brought about the resignation of US President Nixon. Bernstein is a Pulitzer prize winner. He is a “heavyweight” in the field of journalism. After he left the Washington Post in 1977, he spent six months working on a single text: an article on journalists’ cooperation with the CIA.
His report was published in Rolling Stone. In that article, Bernstein revealed that around 400 American journalists were actively working with the CIA. The New York Times even had a contract with the CIA under the terms of which journalists could be “loaned” to the CIA at any time. The best-known lead article writers and commentators in the US were thus on the books of the CIA, including publishers and top editors – and also foreign journalists. At the latest since this revelation in 1977 it has been clear that the CIA recruits, journalists and leading staff in media companies worldwide or employs them as informants. What does that mean for us in Germany?” Excretes from book “Bought Journalists” by Udo Ulfkotte delayed “Journalists for Hire” English edition.
Europeans, Americans, and their media never accepted anything which goes against its agenda and desired results in the democratic process. They never accepted Egypt’s elected president with over 60% and HAMAS in Palestine as legitimate elected parties by the people. These powers installed SISI who got 5% votes as President.
Highly paid and very costly Pakistani press officers and ministers based in London, Washington and New York must have written their rebuttals as well as letters to the editors by now? I contacted the one based in Washington who was going to call me in 15 minutes, never called back and the one based in London could not answer phone because he was at an event as he sent me a late-night message. The reason being as the stories are written by local, regional writers, for example, Ahmed Rashid for Foreign Affairs, Abbas Nasir for New York Times, Mihir Sharma for Bloomberg etc. It is a common courtesy to contact the writers and clear the doubts and request for the addition of facts in their stories. It helps developing personal relations as well as providing both sides of the story.
Both Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are ‘golden boys’ bringing in wealth in post-colonial period after 1947. Politicians of both Pakistan and India have stolen more wealth in 70 years than British did in over 200 years colonial rule. The European and American feels their ‘pirates and bandits’ Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari need to be rescued. They both looted Pakistani wealth, deposited into European and American banks as well as burdened Pakistan with over USD 38 billion loan in just 10 years from 2008 – 2018, following international mafia plans. Nawaz Sharif USD 38 billion in five years 2013-2018, and Asif Zardari 2008 – 2013 USD 18 billion, on the other hand Gen Musharraf’s period from 1999 – 2018 loan was USD. 4 Billion and, 50 years period loan from 1947 – 1999 was USD 34 billion.
It does not cost a lot of money to hire a PR or Lobbyist firm in London or Washington depending which colonial region you are from. For example, former French colonies in north Africa and Africa as whole would go to Paris for lobbying. The recent attack on Pakistan and its ongoing election process by US and UK media clearly seems paid and planted. The writers or sources are based in Pakistan and are usual suspects in Pakistan bashing. Obviously, the editors or owners of these US or UK media outlets had some wink from somewhere. According to media reports Nawaz Sharif group hired a US based lobbying firm recently as Asif Zardari hired Washington based Jonathan Stember’s firm “Gunster Strategies Worldwide” for one month in February 2018 this year and paid $100,000 fees for setting up meetings and media interviews for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Pakistan as a state need a robust and active press officers equipped with knowledge, skills and 21st century techniques. The current press officers based in the embassies at the important stations are mostly corrupt, incompetent, self-serving as well as unprofessional. They don’t know that they are contractually on duty for 24 hrs in time of peace and crisis.
What Pakistani media with foreign links doing to its public in the words of Lords Nelson, “if you cannot baffle them with brilliance than dazzle them with bulshit”.
(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and chief editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), LBC Radio London. He was also international Presidential election observer for Kazakhstan, 2019, 2016 and 2015, Azerbaijan 2020, 2018 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He did his MA from Government College Lahore. He wrote his MA thesis on ‘Political Thought of Imam Khomeini’ and visited Tehran University. He is PhD in ‘Political Psychology’ also studied Law at a British University. He also speaks at Cambridge University and visiting professor in Hebe University in China.)
Views expressed are not of The London Post