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The “FREE” Taliban Apologist Media – by M Ilyas Khan

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Islamabad

A man reads an Urdu newspaper reporting the capture of top Taliban  commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi on February 16, 2010

The arrest did not receive extensive coverage

The Pakistani media’s response to the arrest of top Afghan Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been surprisingly muted.

Mullah Baradar was arrested near Karachi in a joint raid by the CIA and the Pakistani military’s intelligence service on 8 February.

The arrest made international headlines throughout the day on Tuesday.

But Pakistani newspapers and television channels barely covered the news, with some completely ignoring it.

Analysts say the blackout was because Pakistan’s government and the army are wary of being seen as an American poodle.

‘Ignored’

Most newspapers on Wednesday morning relegated the story either to the lower half of their front page, or to the back page.

And all confined themselves to excerpts from the New York Times report – which broke the story on Tuesday – and the curt reactions of US and Pakistani officials.

The only exception was the Dawn newspaper which carried a detailed follow-up of the story, explaining when and where Mullah Baradar was captured – information that the New York Times report did not include.

The electronic media, which has greater outreach in a country like Pakistan with its low literacy rate, totally ignored the news except in their early morning bulletins which broadcast the news quoting the New York Times report.

There was a complete blackout of the story in all the top-of-the-hour bulletins after midday on Tuesday.

This has surprised many in Pakistan, given that a vibrant private-sector electronic media has lately shown itself to be aggressively competitive in digging up important news and follow-up stories.

Because Tuesday was otherwise a slow day for news, journalists cannot argue that they did not have enough time to examine the implications of the arrest.

Many believe that their muted response is indicative of the extent to which the Pakistani security establishment can influence the media.

The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which helped the CIA arrest Mullah Baradar, is widely understood to be well outside the control of the government and is more directly linked with the military.

Analysts say the story was downplayed because it would have raised uncomfortable questions over the military’s collaboration with the US, especially at a time when the army had not yet confirmed the arrest and had not formulated its public response.

Any collaboration with the US in its “war on terror” in Afghanistan has become increasingly unpopular since an elected government took power in 2008.

Some of the criticism has emanated from the military itself.

Observers feel that there would have a been an uproar in the media had the arrest taken place with the approval of the political establishment.

Source: BBC

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  • ا جنوبی افغانستان میں برطانوی فوج کے کمانڈر میجر جنرل نک کارٹر نے بتایا ہے کہ مرجہ میں منگل کو ایک گھر پرگرنے والا راکٹ غلطی سے نہیں بلکہ اپنے ہدف پر لگا تھا کیونکہ ہلاک ہونے والوں میں تین طالبان بھی شامل ہیں۔

    اس سے پہلے یہ اطلاع ملی تھی کہ راکٹ ایک گھر پر گرنے سے چھ بچوں سمیت بارہ شہر ی ہلاک ہوگئے اور یہ کہ راکٹ اپنے ہدف کے بجائے بھٹک گیا تھا۔

    جنوبی افغانستان میں طالبان کے مضبوط ٹھکانے مرجہ میں منگل کو ایک گھر پرگرنے والا راکٹ غلطی سے نہیں بلکہ اپنے ہدف پر لگا تھا۔ کیونکہ ہلاک ہونے والوں میں تین طالبان بھی شامل ہیں
    میجر جنرل نک کارٹر
    اس علاقے میں افغان فوج کے ایک سینئیرکمانڈر جنرل غوری نے الزام لگایا کہ طالبان لڑائی میں شہریوں کو اغوا کرکے انسانی ڈھال کے طور پر استعمال کر رہے ہیں۔ انھوں نے کہا کہ افغان فوجیوں نے خود یہ دیکھا ہے کہ طالبان جنگجو گھروں کی چھتوں پر عورتوں اور بچوں کے پیچھے سے فائر کر رہے ہیں۔

    ایسوسی ایٹڈ پریس نے افغان جنرل کے حوالے سے لکھا ہے کہ خصوصاً مرجہ کے جنوب میں جنگجو جس احاطے سے فائرنگ کر رہے ہیں وہاں کی چھتوں اور کھڑکیوں میں عورتیں اور بچے واضح طور پر دکھائی دے رہے ہیں۔ یہ ہی وجہ ہے کہ نیٹو اور افغان فوجی جوابی کارروائی سےگریز کر رہے ہیں جس کے باعث یہاں پیش قدمی کی رفتار سست ہے۔

    واضح رہے کہ نیٹو کے اس علاقے میں کمانڈر جنرل نک کارٹر کا کہنا ہے کہ فوج شہریوں کو جانی نقصان سے بچانے کی ہر ممکن کوشش کر رہی ہے۔ اسی لیے ہوائی حملوں میں بہت زیادہ احتیاط کا مظاہرہ کیاجا رہا ہے۔

    اسی دوران صوبہ ہلمند کے گورنر کے ترجمان احمدی نے بتایا ہے کہ مرجہ سے نقل مکانی کرنے والے کوئی پندرہ سو خاندانوں کو صوبائی دارالحکومت لشکر گاہ میں مدد فراہم کی جا رہی ہے۔

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2010/02/100217_us_marines_mah.shtml

  • Baradar’s arrest

    After Pakistani officials first dismissing the reports
    of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar’s arrest from Karachi as propaganda, DG ISPR has finally confirmed The New York Times report in a press conference yesterday. Baradar is the head of the Quetta Shura of the Afghan Taliban and the second most influential member of the group. This arrest, which was carried out with the collaboration of the CIA and ISI, is being hailed as a sea change in the attitude of the Pakistan military establishment towards the Taliban, for whom it was accused of having a soft corner. The news was not released until a week after the arrest took place.

    This significant capture should be seen in the context of the Marjah Operation by the US and NATO forces in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. The strategy of the US is to clear and hold the area through a show of strength. At the same time, the US and NATO sent out signals that as part of this new strategy, they want to rehabilitate lower or mid-level Taliban, who may not be as ideologically committed as the core leadership, and who may be willing to abandon the life of a guerilla, whose harshness demands nerves of steel. It meant that instead of chasing shadows, they wanted to deal with the concrete task of giving the Afghan people something to believe in, in order to wean them away from militancy and the Taliban. In the same context, President Karzai extended the olive branch to the Taliban leadership, which they rejected out of hand. However, moves have been afoot behind the scenes to bring this about through Saudi mediation. All these events suggest that the timing of Baradar’s arrest and the release of its news are perhaps not coincidental. The speculations are that Baradar’s arrest may open the door for negotiations with the Afghan Taliban leadership.

    The other interesting aspect of this development is the involvement of the ISI in the capture, which has come after years of vociferous denials about the presence of a Quetta Shura, which now seems to have relocated to Karachi from where Baradar was captured. As mentioned earlier, some analysts and commentators have dubbed it as a sea change in the military establishment’s policy. However, there are others who contend that it is in line with General Kayani’s policy of becoming the main power broker in negotiations between the Taliban and the US. If the latter is correct, then the military establishment may have ordered the ISI to accelerate the process of negotiations through Mullah Baradar.

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\02\18\story_18-2-2010_pg3_1

  • Cooperation is key in ending the violence and instability caused by the Taliban and replacing it with peace and stability. The US will continue to support Pakistan in its efforts to establish security for its citizens and so they may feed their families, educate their children, and live free from constant threat.

    US Under Secretary of Defence Michele Flournoy has come to Pakistan to further negotiations:

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/19-us-wants-pakindia-talks-to-end-tensions-820-hh-02

    http://www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=96544&Itemid=2

    LCDR Bill Speaks
    Digital Engagement Team
    US Central Command
    http://www.centcom.mil

  • Beheaded body of Sikh local found in Orakzai Sunday, 21 Feb, 2010
    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/07-beheaded-body-of-sikh-local-found-in-orakzai-ha-12

    KHYBER AGENCY: The beheaded body of a Sikh resident of Khyber was found in Orakzai Agency on Sunday.

    Three Sikh residents of the area were kidnapped by militants from Tirah Valley, in the tribal area of Khyber Agency, locals told DawnNews.

    A letter, found with the body, warned his relatives and other Sikh locals against disclosing the case to the media. It said the minority faced threats of suicide attacks if the details of the beheading and kidnapping were revealed to the media or security forces.

    The deceased Jaspal Singh was kidnapped by the suspected militants along with two others and left beheaded in Orakzai.

    Two other companions of Jaspal Sing, Gorwandar Singh and Srujeet Singh are still being held captive by the militants.

    The body of Jaspal Singh was brought to Peshawar where his last rituals will be held at Mohallah Jogan Shah in Dabgari area.

    While no group has claimed responsibility for the abduction and consequent murder, sources say the Orakzai based militants are believed to be involved in the incident.

    Militants in Orakzai and Tirah Valley have been charging the non-Muslim residents Jazai or Islamic Tax on the pretext of providing security to them and their business in the area.

    A large number of Sikhs have migrated from Orakzai after being threatened by Hakimullah Mehsud led militants. —DawnNews