Original Articles

Psych Ops: The Role of the Media in Taseer’s murder – by Abdul Basit

The following tweet by a Pakistan’s leading lawyer and rights champion provides the basis for understanding the dynamics of Pakistan and how the PPP has been and is at the wrong end of this trifecta.

 @Asma_Jahangir: Pakistan kaa masala kia — jeem jeem aur jeem (3rd January, 2012)

The murder of PPP Governor Salman Taseer came as a surprise for those elites who have no roots in the masses.  For the rest, it was another tragic reminder to the many Pakistanis who have suffered due to the military establishment’s policy of strategic depth.  This continued policy has been reinforced by Sherry Rehman’s JI report and directly leads to the patronage of extremist militants who are used as Non-State actors in Afghanistan and Kashmir.  They are also used as a street force for undermining democratic governments, especially the PPP.

As always, the two organs of the State, the media and the Judiciary, that are ideally expected to safeguard and protect democratic and progressive norms failed once again. In most countries, these two institutions have played a vital role in highlighting the ills of society and solving problems via the courts. In Pakistan, however, they are part of the 3-Jeem alliance that have, with a few honourable exceptions, always worked hand in glove with the military establishment.

Prominent journalist/analyst Nasim Zehra represents all that is wrong withPakistan’s media. In the weeks leading upto Taseer’s murder, the media played a vital role in galvanizing the rabid, right-wing Taliban apologists and providing their intolerant frothing fatwas with precious air time. Instead of educating the public on the developments that were taking place on the streets, as part of senior management at a major private corporate media channel, Duniya,  she was culpable in the the dangerous, misguided bigotry that lead to Taseer’s killing. After Taseer’s killing, Nasim’s channel Duniya  hired ex-Samaa employee, Mehr Bokhari.  This after her performance at the Samaa channel where she instigated for Taseer’s murder:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwccoYD4sUE

In a follow up show on DAWN, Nasim was unusually defensive and does her best to deflect attention away from the horrible role played by the media in Taseer’s murder. Instead she dishonestly blames the victim, the PPP, for the murder of their own senior leader. Blaming the victim tactic is a sure indication that in the absence of any arguement in defending the indefensible, Nasim Zehra dishonestly diverted the growing attention away from the media and onto the PPP Government which had just lost senior leader and Punjab Governor and which would go on to lose another leader and minister with the killing of Minorities Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti.

What Nasim Zehra and other journalists deliberately omit from this debate are the crucial developments that were taking place then.  Most crucial amongst these developments was the estrangement of both Brelvi (Kazmi) and Deobandi (Fazlu) clerics from the government coalition and their growing alliance with other pro-Taliban parties like the JI, JUI S, SSP/ASWJ, PML N, PTI. These groups were whipping up public sentiment against any changes to the blasphemy law.  Nasim then used the CFD platform to develop the dishonest “PPP-abandoned-Taseer” narrative even further.

She conviniently omitted the actual opposition to the Blasphemy Law amendment by other political and religious groups and shifted the entire blame of Taseer’s killing on to the PPP. In disaffected PPP MNA from a reserved seat, Sherry Rehman, she found a willing collaborator. On the CFD website and platform, only the PPP was abused and slandered as the party that was responsible both for Taseer’s murder and for failing to amend the Blasphemy Act. Omitted from this fake discourse was the crucial fact that PPP didn’t have the numbers and with the MQM backstabbing them yet again, were in real danger of being dismissed. What was also deliberately misrepresented was the lie that other parties known for their support to religious parties were going to support this amendment.

Using her media pulpit, Nasim Zehra was a central figure in distorting the entire scenario. The media first supported the violent religious groups in reinforcing their anti-amendment stance amongst the public. In the violent back lash that followed, they worked throught known establishment journos like Nasim Zehra in shifting the blame onto the victim.

Oh, yes, lest we forget, this elite segment of society equates Rehman Malik’s disgusting statement as representative of PPP abondoning Taseer; completely oblivious to what was said by PPP Co-Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Ofcourse, Bilawal is not an establishment-propped politician like Imran Khan and is already prepared for the same viciousness that was spewed against his late grandfather, his late mother and his father when they raised their hands for public office. However, coming back to Rehman Malik, one would wish he would be hauled before a court and asked to explain his disgusting statements. Here is the real rub though. InPakistan, the courts would have showered him with petals and treated him as a hero like they did with Taseer’s murderer; the coward Mumtaz Qadri who shot an unarmed man he was supposed to guard. In Pakistan, these same courts and most of these judges and lawyers have been venerated by the same media. And yet the blame the PPP.

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Jehangir Hafsi

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  • @Irfan, you are so right. Plus if so many forces are working against democracy I feel US’s hand can not be excluded as well.