Media’s onslaught on Armed Forces by Mohammad jamil

Supreme Court’s verdict on Asghar Khan Case is being used by a section of unconscionable media men, palmed off anchorpersons, analysts and panelists who have started propaganda blitz against the Armed Forces and the ISI.
In the name of freedom of speech, they comment on the role of some retired generals in politics for five decades after independence, and in the process target the Army as an institution. Their aim is to tarnish the image of Armed Forces/ISI arguably at the behest of enemies of Pakistan, as defaming the military is the first phase of their sinister plan to weaken Pakistan. And in case they succeed in their nefarious designs, we all stand to suffer. One anchorperson of a renowned private TV channel, who is also columnist, has spewed venom against Pakistan military in his column in Urdu daily on 12th November, drawing parallelism with recent ouster of CIA Chief David Patreaus. He stooped so low as to cast aspersions on the defenders of the frontiers and resorted to unwarranted criticism.

Another anchorperson known for his malicious intent against military tried to poison the minds of the people alleging that recent firing incident on his residence was the act of intelligence agencies. In fact, it was an effort to improve the dwindling rating of his program that he resorted to cheap tactics and concocted this story. Just watch the comments in print and electronic media about General (r) Aslam Beg and General (r) Asad Durrani for having distributed money among some politicians, and you can observe that military and the ISI are under attack. If in the past some military adventurers had imposed Martial Law, the present military leadership is not to blame, just like the present judiciary cannot be blamed or held responsible for members of judiciary that had given legitimacy to the military dictators. The fact of the matter is that our political parties and leaders have been accusing each other of corruption and for supporting the military dictators in the past.

It was due to the conflict between the political parties, intolerance and deep-rooted hatred among politicians in the past that provided opportunity to the Generals to intervene. In 1977, it was Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) that had started agitation against Bhutto government on the plea that it had rigged elections. Before October 1958 Martial Law also, political parties were at loggerheads. As regards former General Pervez Musharraf’s military dispensation, the Grand Democratic Alliance was formed on one-point i.e. to get rid of Nawaz government. Almost all political and religious parties and their leaders have at one time or another aided and abetted military dictators and joined their bandwagons. Those leaders who were propped up by the military to become heads of the state often criticized military more than others. Anyhow, no political party could boast about its democratic credentials or impeccable character of its leaders.

Even judiciary had provided legitimacy to the military dictators and allowed dictators to amend the constitution, which right judiciary itself did not have. During the last 65 years, Pakistan has faced multi-faceted crisis, and once suffered the trauma of disintegration. Of course, one should not hold brief for the military dictator, but keeping in view the conduct of the present military leadership, the scathing criticism is unwarranted. Perhaps there is some link between Col (r) Inam’s petition and the column published on 12th November 2012. The question also arises why Col (r) Inam filed the petition in 2012 when the extension was given in 2010, and why he has chosen to pursue the case at this point in time when the media is highlighting the clash between the institutions. In fact, there was nothing wrong what COAS had said about abiding by the Constitution. The question can also be asked whether the army chief does not enjoy the same right as citizen of Pakistan.

There are quite a few countries in the world that were once ruled by kings, dictators and had military dispensations or Martial Laws but nowhere in the world have they heaped insult on their armed forces. Anyhow, since the commencement of judicial proceedings on the Mehrangate, a public debate had been triggered off. It was fundamentally flawed, as both the commentriat and the media men had it that devil in the scam was the military and the ISI. However, the apex court in its verdict on Asghar Khan Case categorically stated that two generals had acted in their personal capacity and the institution of military was not involved. Some fanatics and vested interest are also trying to take advantage of the impression that there is confrontation between Military and Judiciary. Col (r) Inam-ur-Rahim, petitioner against 3-year extension to COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Islamabad High Court, and counsel for Brigadier Ali Khan who is facing Court Martial, was allegedly beaten up in Rawalpindi the other day.

He has submitted an application in R.A. Bazar police station Rawalpindi for registration of FIR against COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and DG Military Intelligence Major General Naushad Kayani. Col (r) Inam claims to be convener of Ex-servicemen Society. However, the secretary of the society has taken exception to the news in the media indicating that he was convener of the society. In a press release, the society has disowned him, adding that there is no slot of a convener in the organization. The matter has to be investigated whether he has been beaten up due to some personal enmity or family feud. He appears to be playing into the hands of some media men who are also using his name to defame the armed forces and intelligence agencies. On 24th September 2012, Islamabad High Court had rejected his petition against the extension of service to COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, declaring it non-maintainable. On 12th November, he filed a miscellaneous petition in Islamabad High Court against recent statement of COAS, arguing that General Kayani was not entitled to remain in Office after making a political statement. Who is behind him and the journalists who denigrate armed forces?

—The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.


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