Every action has a reaction. The reaction can differ from person to person and party to party. The media especially some elements in it, like the Jang Group and now ARY, with its change of guard, have been targeting the PPP and its leadership without fail. Be it the restoration of judges, carbon tax, NRO, Kerry Lugar Bill, 18th Amendment, and now the visit of the President to France and UK, floods in the country and “shoe-attack” by a “patriotic” Pakistani, the target has always been the person of President Asif Ali Zardari. Whether one as a party supporter likes the person of Mr. Zardari or not, but one thing is for sure: the PPP continues to remain united under the banner of PPP led by the President. Detractors can claim that the party has been divided ever since Mr. Zardari took over, however, I fail to notice one instance where those not agreeing with his policies have resigned from the party given seat as a Senator, MNA or MPA or for that matter left the PPP as member. Dissent is one thing, which is the democratic right of every party member while division is totally different.
Having been unable to dent the party like they were able to in 1990’s when we saw at least three splinter groups (Murtaza Bhutto’s group, Shaheed Bhutto group under Dr. Mubashir Hassan and then Sherpao Group) emerge, the media follows both intense and subliminal attacks on the leadership of the PPP to make the party workers and supporters disgruntled. When the news of “shoe-attack” on the President was aired, my little brother and some other friends who are known supporters of the party were thoroughly disappointed. In one way or the other their suggestion was “President should resign and leave the party” after this ignominious incident. My response to them was by making you disappointed and disgruntled, the media is making inroads into the party. When the party cannot be defeated in elections, the party needs to be divided to be made ineffective.
On one hand, we have been seeing scathing attacks on the party and its leadership from the media while on the other, the media expects there to be no reaction. Does the media expect PPP and its workers to remain under the influence of general anesthesia that you pin and poke us the wrong and hard way but expect the party and workers not to respond? I have tried to find out from my friends in Karachi if GEO and ARY News were not being seen on their cable network? The answer was in the negative. I asked them whether they received Jang or The News (if they are subscribers), the answer was “yes, we did”. So where is the attack on media when the media keeps on plying its trade of criticism?
If elements of Jang/Geo/The News, ARY and others claim attacks on media, then why are they able to disseminate anything and everything that comes to their mind?
Let me remind all our readers of effective media gagging in Pakistan’s history. I hope these three instances should be enough for people differentiate between gagging and freedom of press:
- During General Zia’s martial law, news that didn’t use to comply with their standards used to be deleted. The result was parts of the newspapers used to be blank. Hundreds of journalists were arrested while reporting.
- MQM effectively boycotted Jang on 10th March 1989. The MQM announced boycott of the newspaper by not only not buying the newspaper but also ensuring that its delivery was blocked. Thousands of copies of Jang were burnt. Result has been that during the last 21 years, Jang publishes the press releases of MQM verbatim. Also negative reporting of MQM has been shunned. Now that is what is called an effective boycott.
- In 1998, Jang Group and PML-N led government were in tussle for newsprint quotas and taxation demands. The resu
lt was an acrimonious relationship between Mir Shakil ur Rehman and Senator Saif ur Rehman. MSR was forced to come out in public with tapes of threats by Saif. At the same time, Jang had thinned to become a 6 page newspaper on very poor quality newsprint. And off course, government advertisements were stopped to the group. For all details of the “War on Jang” please see this link:
My question to the media is: are you seeing any of the above three actions against you? Moreover, can’t I as a PPP worker say enough is enough? Am I not permitted to react?
It is high time, the PPP rethought its media strategy and come up with out of the box thinking to counter this unleashed media.