Original Articles

This is not the 90’s

It seems the Pakistani politics and the powers in the background still rely on the proverbial “masala formula” followed by Bollywood and Lollywood movies. The “masala formula” of Pakistani politics involves two main political parties along with a few who want to be in the big league, have the Pakistan Army that plays the role of a disapproving family head and the ISI as the villain that tries to create storms and create alliances and uses the media for propaganda purposes. Other institutions that also have a starring role is that of a judiciary that provides entertainment ala Johnny Lever or Ismail Tara style. The formula worked at least four times in 1990s and with a little bit of changes, it did deliver the goods in the first decade of the 21st Century. The success of Pakistani politics “masala formula” was not that all lived happily ever after, but that the politics moved from one pole to another with not many ends being achieved.


Things are not the same anymore. One should give credit to the slowly but increasing maturity of the main political parties in the country i.e. PPP, PML-N, MQM and ANP and also to General Pervez Musharraf who did at least three things right: hold elections in 2002 on time (at the culmination of 3 year period by SC), allow for the parliament to complete one full term even though we saw three prime ministers in office and then also hold the 2008 elections on schedule. With one parliament completing its full term, and another almost four years into its term, we are seeing a major shift in attitude. At least the politicians are realizing that completing terms isn’t bad, in fact it is good. It gives you a moral high ground and you can ask for reciprocity from other parties in the pool. If this parliament completes its term (InshaAllah), our belief in the adage  “Winning once is a fluke, Winning twice is a streak”, will get stronger. The parliament needs to win. Parliament wins, democracy wins.


In our opinion, there are two groups which are not understanding this changing reality and we don’t blame them because they stand to be the losers because of this change. We are talking about our dearest ISI and the Media.


Height of being a Smart Alec

The notorious ISI comprises of proverbial “Smart Alec(s)”. They think of themselves to be very smart and intelligent, which unfortunately, they aren’t. 2011, has been a manifest year of their smart and intelligent operations.  From security lapses that have led to killings of important political personalities like Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti to the Raymond Davis Saga to the mother of all lapses Osama Bin Laden operation in Abbottabad to the Mehran Base capture, to humiliation from a local government in China that blamed Pakistan for terrorism in restive town of Kashgar,  the list just doesn’t end. On top of this, our ISI organizes demonstrations with placards like “ISI is the best agency in the world”, “We love Pak Army and ISI” and uses their influence in the media to face-save themselves. Realizing that their smartness and intelligence is too much for their own liking, they revert back to what they are doing best. Creating discontent in the political system. From building up a paper tiger in the form of Imran Khan  to creating discontent in parties ranks, this is what ISI does best. The recent Husain Haqqani-Mansoor Ijaz Saga is yet another manifestation of the intelligence of our ISI. They are using a bigger and well documented foe (Mansoor Ijaz) to get rid of a lesser and under control adversary (Husain Haqqani). A lot has been written about this issue, so we don’t want to waste our time further. The reason why it would stand to lose from the continuation of the system and completion of terms would be the dilution of their influence. If everyone starts waiting for “Saadi baari” and is content with the electoral system and its results, then how will they create discontent?


The media is in our opinion a bigger evil! It comprises of “nadaan dosts”, who have no clue about the realities of a changing world and still rely on using slander and sensationalism for their popularity and eventual blackmail. Though it can’t be proven, but the media’s rank and file does comprise of people who toe the line of the ISI. The modus operandi is simple: get leads from the ISI, create propaganda and then create discontent. The Media Military Alliance is at times more dangerous than the Mullah Military Alliance. We also believe that continuation of the system and completion of parliamentary terms will help in diluting the media’s influence in Pakistani politics. All through 1990’s and between 2007 and 2009, they were the king makers and breakers. Remember Kamran Khan was the most influential “Investigative Journalist” in the 1990’s? Shaheen Sehbai’s pieces were most read. Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami’s columns were read by opinion makers and made case against the political class. If this parliament completes its term and the daily painted doomsday scenario doesn’t arrive, who will then believe them. This is the biggest fear facing our media. One never knows, they may even resort to an “aayat-e-kareema khatam” to get rid of this parliamentary system.


Though a lot of people are talking about change, it is wishful thinking rather than objective analysis. Any change that comes in on the back of ISI and Media circus is no change at all. People also have to realize that the times have changed. We are no more in the 1990’s. The people have much more access to information and propaganda can be seen through. If the current parliament completes its term in 2013, we shall be inclined to write a detailed“Obituary of the Media-Military Alliance”. Look for this space in the end of 2013.

About the author

Ahmed Iqbalabadi


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  • Officail statement to Sack Haqqani, to have fair, objective and without bias investigation.
    So if this trend is starting may we ask for Army Chief or ISI cheif to resign too for “Osamagate” or “MehranBaseGate”
    or Chief Justice for “SonGate”…

    Wayward thoughts…

  • Actually, I’m glad that you noticed that the PML-Q parliament also completed its term and passed the baton onto an elected government, albeit under the shadow of a miilitary government and the murder of a former Prime Minister.

    I look forward to a purely civilian transfer of power come 2013. This shall be good.

    You also forgot to thank General Musharraf for unleashing the Pakistan media; now Pakistanis could have the pleasure of confronting the underlying psychosis that their Middul Class society is built on.

  • @TLW, that is where we see the importance of civilian politician’s vision. When MBB launched the liberalization of the media in 1990, she didnt want to give licences for TV and Radio channels to owners of newspapers. NTM was given to Interflow and FM 100 was given to the company that ran DC Pagers. What Pervez Musharraf did was to appease the newspaper owners. Newspaper owners apnay maa-baap kay nahee, what to talk of a dictator.
    You must also clarify that you miss the 90’s because there was less media and there was Benazir

  • @Ahmed Iqbalabadi

    There was also something related to the MQM in the 1993-1996 period. Benazir’s second government did what it could. President Zardari has taken some lessons from the time but adapted them to the needs of the policy of reconciliation.

  • Ahmed sahab, I don’t need to clarify, because you’ve actually bought up a point that I thought was extraneous to the debate but must be added. I absolutely loved NTM.

    One reason I am an NFP fan is because he drew in my two loves Pakistani Pop music and politics together. The mid-90’s were when the second wave of Pakistani music exploded (Abrar, Awaz, Yatagan/Fakhr-e-Alam, and many more I can’t name right now). These men (and few women) were products of NTM, specifically their pop shows, and I value the knowledge you’ve given on the ownership of NTM & FM 100.

    Cross ownership is the real issue you’re addressing and we can witness on our television screens & in our newspapers what happens when little Pakistani minds try to play Rupert Murdoch (facing scandals) through the miracle of cross ownership.

    I had no idea about Interflow itself being the company that ran NTM, but I did recall the one specific owner of the company who was named as NTM’s owner.

  • Off course, NTM (Network Television Marketing) was promoted by Interflow Communications which was owned by Tahir A Khan (now owner of TV One, News One, Waseb etc) and a Faisal Shirjan. Interflow competed with MNJ Advertising which was owned (partly I think) by Javed Jabbar. The decision to give Interflow caused Javed Jabbar to leave the PPP.

    The reason why NTM was successful was because it was purely entertainment and not a news machine. It was not competing with PTV across the country but in certain urban centers.

    Pakistani media has no ethics at all. They are all treading the path which the News of The World was going all.

    There is need for consolidation in our electronic media. It will happen one day. InshAllah

  • all treading the path which the News of The World

    Indeed. There is a very strange similarity in the loose way that the British press defines press freedom and the way Pakistanis do. Its to be expected I guess, since we have not only British colonisation as a past experience but also the number of British Pakistanis that reside in the UK. And expecatantly, a Pakistani, Mazhar Majeed, with a father who printed Urdu newspapers in Britain, was the dirtiest of the NoTW lot.

    The deep pockets of Britain allow it it’s pseudo-free press + libel law haven, but in Pakistan, one is not sure what check there can be on the press.

    I doubt there will be consolidation, but there certainly can be one effective way to stop the press. Stop any discussion of religion.

    Anybody mentions religion on a private channel, slap a fine on the channel, and threaten a night in the cooler. Shut down Madni TV, Peace TV, Haq TV and all these commercial religious outfits. And strengthen and use the libel and defamation laws like a stick.

  • Nice suggestion but religion is just never going to be banned in our media. Infact the use of religion in media has gone out of hand. I am sure, if you look for tag about Jang Group on LUBP you will see so many articles about the use of religion in their group yet they have nothing with the religion.

    The only way to go forward is to have strong libel laws and implement them. We see threats of use of defamation and libel law but nothing happens in court. Fauzia Wahab filed a case against Ansar Abbasi for defamation and got stay order against him. So was the case of Riaz Laljee taking injunction against the Jang Group. It did stop them from targeting these two people. I hope more and more people take these blackmailing journalists to task.

    BTW, have you read the article of Qamar Ahmed in Dawn about Mazhar Mahmood (the fake sheikh) and his father? http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/23/fake-sheikh-man-behind-the-smoke-screen.html

  • A successful use of the threat of the libel law would be where Ambassador Husain Haqqani threatened I think, the Nawa-e-waqt group. That stopped them for a while, but maybe a libel/defamation section in LUBP would help. If Jang use abuses religion, I seriously think some sort of ordinance banning its use, via PEMRA (?), like the PTA list of Banned words might work. Also I’m trying to make sense of this sentence, please help “you will see so many articles about the use of religion in their group yet they have nothing with the religion”.

    Am reading on Mazhar Majeed now, and wow.

  • Haha ! Who’s from Karachi Grammar? Sherry’s old classmates. They must be happy 😀

    Reading. It’s a lot. By the way, Mazhar Mahmood’s father being a stringer for Nawa-e-Waqt. That is dirty. Really down and dirty.

  • And at the end of the day it was a Pakistani (Mazhar Mahmood) doing a sting operation on a Pakistani operative (Mazhar Majeed) involving Pakistani cricketers (Salman/Asif/Aamir) on a game loved by Pakistanis. Yet we have a guts to say that we are honest people and the world conspires against us!! We conspire against ourselves and then axe our own feet!

    for sure, Sherry’s friends must be very happy. DC, here they come

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