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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Code of conduct for Pakistani media. Don't glorify terrorism.

By: Abdul Nishapuri

The following code of conduct has been designed in view of certain segments of Pakistani media’s irresponsible behavior and projection of terrorists and militants as heroes in the eyes of fellow Pakistanis and the world. On certain occasions, it is so brazen that we have to term it as a media disgrace and national menace.

Many of us are aware of how many reporters, columnists and anchors of known channels and newspapers behave. Though some of them are apparently polite and amicable but large numbers of them are rude and Over Ambitious Angry Journalists, the people who want to do something in hurry, looking for a short cut to fame and sensation. Some of them have very obvious political or jihadi inclinations.

This code of conduct is applicable to all forms of media, including but not limited to newspapers, television channels, websites, and radio.

Pakistan is currently undergoing the most difficult phase of its history. We, the Pakistani nation, the democratic government and the Pakistan Army, are fighting a war with an enemy who is hiding within our own people, and who does not hesitate from killing our fellow Pakistanis, be they Muslims or non-Muslims, Pashtun or Punjabi, Sindhi or Baloch, Sunni or Shia etc.

Our enemy uses a false interpretation of Islam to promote its international jihadi and sectarian agenda. Our enemy kills our guests, investors, aid-workers, and diplomats in Pakistan, be they from China or USA, Iran or Egypt.

It has been noticed that some media outlets including but not limited to TV news and talk-shows, newspaper columns and websites are involved in speech or activities which are either implicitly or explicitly against the national security interests of our beloved country.

It has been noticed that some writers, speakers or anchorpersons tend to glorify or justify terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al Qaeda or their associate jihadi and sectarian groups in Pakistan.

Often terrorism against the people of Pakistan, its armed forces or its government institutions is justified in the guise of what they term as a legitimate reaction to injustices in Kashmir, Afghanistan or Palestine. Pakistan is not responsible for any injustices in any form in any part of the world, nor would it allow terrorists and their mentors to brainwash and use innocent Pakistanis against their own country and its esteemed institutions.

We understand that a typical 13 to 17 year old suicide bomber who explodes himself in a mosque, imambargah, market or police station is only a foot-soldier, who has been brainwashed by such pro-jihadi anchorpersons and columnists, opportunist political leaders or narrow-minded mullahs, who have convinced the suicide bomber to direct his anger against Pakistan, its armed forces and democratic institutions.

Therefore, any anchorperson, speaker or writer, who is found guilty of either justifying or glorifying acts of terrorism, will be arrested on the charges of treason against Pakistan. Such person will be tried in anti-terrorism courts and given exemplary punishment.

As a matter of rule:

  1. All innocent citizens and members of security forces who sacrifice their lives in Pakistan's war on terror will be described as 'shaheed' or martyr.
  1. All terrorists killed in the war on terror will be described as 'jahannum wasil' or 'killed'.
  1. No interviews with Taliban leaders or their supporters will be conducted or broadcast through the media.
  1. Media will refrain from inviting those black-sheep who openly speak against Pakistan's war on terror, and try to justify terrorist activities as a legitimate reaction or jihad. Such fifth columnists will not be invited in talk shows.
  1. Those anchor persons or columnists who are known for their sympathies towards Taliban or Al Qaeda will be banned from conducting any TV shows or writing columns for newspapers.
  1. No comments from ordinary public (i.e. terrorists posing to be ordinary public) will be allowed on media, which tend to glorify or justify acts of terror.
  1. Media owners and administrators will be ultimately responsible for any violation of this code of conduct. Their media outlet will be closed down and licenses cancelled in case of any violation of the code.
  1. Channels will not go overboard in the urge to increase viewers rating. They will refrain from creating sensationalism. They will refrain from giving extensive live coverage to terrorist activities.
  1. Media will not force unwanted stories and television news which glorify anti-national elements, terrorists and traitors.
  2. Media outlets will not race after breaking news. The concept of confirmation and accuracy of news or an event from independent sources will not be ignored.
  3. Media organizations shall provide risk-awareness training for those journalists and media workers, who are likely to be involved in assignments where dangerous conditions prevail. They will also be trained on how to keep national interests in mind when reporting or interpreting news items.
  4. In order to curb sensationalism and also to reward hard working and responsible journalists, media owners will distribute 50% of their profits to their employees including full time media workers and freelance journalists, who comply with this code of conduct.

We are fighting a very sensitive war, a war of Pakistan's survival. We therefore cannot afford to remain oblivious to those who are trying to weaken the very foundations of the state and the society.

Code of conduct drafted by Abdul Nishapuri.

Signed by: 15000 members of "Terror Free Pakistan" - An association of all Pakistanis irrespective of any political, religious or ethnic affiliation.

17 October 2009


Journalists propose code of ethics for Pakistani media

LAHORE: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on Monday invited comments and suggestions on a draft code of ethics adopted at a recent international media summit attended by journalists, editors, publishers and members of the civil society.

The summit was organised by the PFUJ and the International Federation of Journalists in Lahore on August 2.

PREAMBLE: The following Code of Principles for the Conduct of Journalism in Pakistan is based upon the belief that fair, balanced and independent journalism is essential for good governance, effective public administration and the capacity of people in Pakistan to achieve genuine democracy and peace. The code recognises that the creation of a tolerant, peaceful and just society depends upon the freedom of citizens to have access to responsible journalism through media that respect principles of pluralism and diversity.

For this code to be effective, journalism and media policy in Pakistan must be guided by the following principles:

* That media, whatever the mode of dissemination, are independent, tolerant and reflect diversity of opinion enabling full democratic exchange within and among all communities, whether based on geography, ethnic origins, religious belief or language;

* That laws defend and protect the rights of journalists and the rights of all citizens to freedom of information and the right to know;

* That there is respect for decent working and professional conditions, through legally enforceable employment rights and appropriate regulations that guarantee editorial independence and recognition of the profession of journalism;

* That there is credible and effective peer accountability through self-regulation by journalists and media professionals that will promote editorial independence and high standards of accuracy, reliability, and quality in media.


1. Journalism is a profession based upon commitment to principles of honesty, fairness, credibility and respect for the truth.

2. A journalist is obliged to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards and shall at all times defend the principle of freedom of the press and media.

3. A journalist shall ensure that information he/she provides is fair, accurate and not subject to falsification, distortion, inappropriate selection, misrepresentation or any form of censorship.

4. A journalist shall avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as fact.

5. A journalist shall protect confidential sources of information.

6. A journalist shall not distort or suppress the truth for commercial, institutional or other special interests.

7. A journalist shall not accept personal favours, bribes, inducements, nor shall he/she allow any other factor pertaining to his/her own person to influence the performance of his/her professional duties.

8. A journalist shall disclose any potential conflict of interest where they involve financial gain or political affiliations.

9. A journalist shall mention a person’s age, sex, race, colour, creed, illegitimacy, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation only if this information is strictly relevant. A journalist shall neither originate nor process material, which incites discrimination, ridicule, prejudice or hatred.

10. A journalist shall not take prior advantage of information gained in the course of his/her professional duties for private gain.

11. A journalist shall obtain information, data, photographs, and illustrations only by straightforward means. The use of other means can be justified only by overriding considerations of the public interest. A journalist is entitled to exercise a personal conscientious objection to the use of such means.

12. A journalist shall avoid intrusion into private life, grief or distress, except when there are overriding considerations of public interest.

13. A journalist shall not exceed the limits of ethical caution and fair comment because of time constraints or to gain competitive advantage.

14. A journalist shall not glorify the perpetrators of illegitimate acts of violence committed under any garb or cause, including honour and religion.

15. A journalist shall never indulge in plagiarism. Using or passing off the works of another as one’s own and without crediting the source is a serious ethical offence.

16. A journalist shall strive to ensure that his writing or broadcast contains no discriminatory material or comment based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, age, sex, marital status or physical or mental handicap.

17. A journalist shall respect and uphold principles of gender equality both in performance of his/her professional duties and in his/her relations with fellow journalists. A journalist shall not discriminate and shall avoid sex-role stereotyping and exploitation in his/her work.

18. A journalist, while reporting on communal, ethnic, or sectarian violence shall not identify victims by race, ethnicity or sect unless it is in the public interest. When this is the case he/she shall ensure that information is not presented in any manner, which may incite hatred or social disharmony.

19. A journalist, when reporting on sectarian or communal disturbance, including broadcast media, shall be aware of the danger of publishing images (or words) that may incite public discontent and anger.

20. A journalist shall not publish or broadcast extreme images of violence, mutilation, corpses or victims of tragedy irrespective of the cause unless it is necessary in the public interest.

21. A journalist shall respect the rights and needs of vulnerable members of society including women, children, marginalised communities and people suffering from disability.

22. A journalist shall not identify or photograph minor children, infants who are the offspring of sexual abuse, forcible marriage or illicit sexual union, or where they are victims of trafficking or forcible drafting into conflict.

23. A journalist shall always be conscious of the need for safety and shall take no action that endangers themselves or their colleagues in their work.

24. A journalist shall at all times respect other journalists and shall defend journalists where they suffer discrimination or are victimized for the exercise of their profession.

25. A journalist shall respect the public right to know and shall always act quickly to correct errors of fact or omission.

26. A journalist shall honour the decisions of the Media Complaints Commission. pr (Daily Times)


Violence and terrorism are plagues afflicting society and state in present-day Pakistan. The media should ensure that no programme has the effect of condoning or glamorizing violent or dangerous behaviour. Militant groups or individuals who are notified by the government as terrorists should be clearly identified as terrorists. Efforts should be made to ensure that there is no live coverage which gives publicity to terrorist goals or which could endanger lives or prejudice the attempt to deal with a on going terrorist incident or investigation. Many broadcasters have already gone through the learning curve in respect of restricting graphic scenes of violence, however, clear restrictions in this respect must be guaranteed for the viewers.

Religious programming should be screened by every broadcaster to ensure that it does not deprecate the religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or sect or justifies or promotes sectarian hatred and violence. More generally, broadcasters must ensure that comment or opinion which has the capacity to incite hatred and contempt against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, caste, nation, ethnicity, linguistic origin, colour, religion or sect is not only restricted but also condemned. Mixing religion with crass commercialism has dangerous consequences. Therefore, broadcasters need to assess whether advertising sponsorship of religious programming is in larger public interest.


Guidelines (by Zafar Abbas)

There are several guidelines agreed to and published by various news organisations like the BBC, CNN and others to deal with the coverage of a range of sensitive issues. Some of them can be useful for our TV networks to evolve their own working codes.Hijacking, hostage-taking and sieges

• We must be aware that anything we broadcast may be heard by the perpetrators.

• Always report demands in context. If it is a hostage situation, mention the nature of the threat to captives in case the demand for money or release of imprisoned militants is not met.

• Consider carefully the ethical issues raised by providing a platform to perpetrators of such crimes.

• Ensure a perpetrator is not interviewed live on air.

• If possible, install a time delay when broadcasting sensitive stories live, for example a school siege or plane hijacking. This is particularly important when the outcome is unpredictable.

• When reporting stories relating to hijacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking, etc, listen to advice from the authorities about anything which, if reported, could exacerbate the situation and place lives at risk, but of course without becoming the authorities’ mouthpiece.

Reporting terror

• Acts of terror should be reported in a timely manner, accurately, fully and responsibly. But there is no value-addition if severed limbs of victims of bomb explosions or bodies are shown.

• Credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgment.

• Instead of loosely using the term ‘terrorist’, words which specifically describe the perpetrator — bomber, attacker, gunman, insurgent, militant — may be preferable.

• It is usually inappropriate to use terms like ‘court martial’ or ‘execute’ in the absence of a clear judicial process. There have been many examples in recent months of media reporting events under labels such as ‘Taliban execute American spy’. This is plain and simple killing, even murder, but not execution.

• The idea is to move away from using other people’s language, and to remain objective and report in ways that enable viewers to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.

The one rule of thumb a senior journalist used to mention was that while airing images always put your own self in the shoes of the victims’ families. Would you like to discover from a TV image that a brother or sister has fallen victim to a terror attack? And how would you feel if the broken, shattered and easily identifiable body of someone close is aired on TV without family consent?Then there are very clear guidelines for covering other sensitive issues like violence against women, demonstrations and riots, disasters and accidents. These have been adopted by almost all major media organisations like the BBC, and after every major incident some international media bodies, informed by the latest experience, usually review and improve these guidelines to ensure better and more responsible coverage.

Indeed these are challenging times for everyone, and the media is no exception. For instance, I could have lived without reading the news of a possible attack on a media organisation or press club. It provided no added information to those who are already in the news business, but could give a cue to militant groups to view the media as one of their enemies and hence fair game.

A more circumspect approach may help exclude hysteria in our news coverage, improve credibility without affecting circulation or a news channel’s rating.

(The writer is Resident Editor of Dawn in Islamabad and has also spent many years in broadcast journalism with the BBC)



Aamir said...

Journalists on Payroll

you wont even believe if names are revealed!

Pakistan’s icon of press freedom, Zamir Niazi, whose book The Web of Censorship is a prescribed read for students at Ivy League universities, is today, flying solo against the poseurs in Pakistani press.

Anticipating another labour of love, I shoot off an e-mail to him.

“It’s more a labour of anger and frustration!” he archly relies. “For the last three decades, I have fought for freedom of thought and expression. The press is really free to a great extent,” reminding me that while the newspapers of today are “better printed and better produced,” with more pay to its workers, “but look at the content…believe me, with a few honourable exceptions, the majority of reporters are on the payroll of one or another agency.”

A scholar of international acclaim, who has dedicated his life researching, analyzing and writing on Pakistani press, he now feels let down by his own ilk. “Most journalists/reporters/writers shun reading books or absorbing themselves in serious study,” he laments. “You will not believe that even senior persons, including some editors, do not read their own newspapers.” He has contempt for journalists who enjoy all kinds of “perks and privileges” and when their demands are denied, “they cry foul.”

As a crusader for this very class of people who wield the pen, Niazi, who wrote his famous book, The Press in Chains, is a bundle of angst who now wants the title changed to The Books in Chains – Libraries in Flames. [Courtesy Ms. Anjum Niaz - Daily Dawn]


Aamir said...

Kamran Khan a Correspondent for The News International/Jang Group of Newspapers’s News Intelligence Unit. I wonder why our Esteemed Journalist Kamran Khan suffer from acute Inferiority Complex to name his feature as if its a section of US Central Intelligence Agency, he should have been proud of just quoting the story as Special Report.??? What the hell is News Intelligence Unit? There must be a difference between Special Branch Report and Newspapers..

He was the One who met with Murtaza Bhutto in Damascus [on the orders of Brigadier Imtiaz, Kamran Khan was on his payroll] several times and insist him to Come back to Pakistan, he used to fly to Syria every month during those days.
Read observation of Mr Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid on Kamran Khan.

Kamran Khan, a correspondent of The News, appeared with a written request that he should be heard as a witness to reply to the statement made by the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, to clear his name, to which the tribunal said it was not holding a defamation trial. The tribunal said it was not concerned with who had said what and that the former prime minister had named 50 people in her statement and there was no time to allow all those who had been named in her statement the opportunity to hear them. “We have limited time and by March 17 the report has to be submitted to the government and we will not allow you to examine Ms Benazir Bhutto and if we allow that there will be no end to it,” the chairman observed. The chairman asked him to submit a written statement before March 17. He also observed that he (Kamran Khan) should have come forward earlier, when the messages were being sent to him. He was reminded by the tribunal that one of the reporters of The News, Maqbool Ahmed, was given the message to convey to him for his appearance when his name was mentioned in the list submitted by the PPP (SB) party counsel, Manzoor Bhutta. “You kept quiet when you knew about it through the newspapers.

You did not wake up until she came and named you by saying ‘if he could be used by me others can also use him.’ “Kamran Khan said he did not know who Maqbool Ahmed was. He said Ms Bhutto had used the tribunal’s platform to say things against him and, therefore, he wanted to reply to her from the same platform, to which the chairman said she had a locus standii, because her brother had been killed and her husband had been arrested in the case.

Aamir said...

Dear Nishapuri,

In my humble opinion Private TV Channels should put an end to several Religious Programs to end this this state backed bombardment of proselytizing a certain kind of Perverted Islam. Religion should be locked within the house, Mosques, Imam Bargahs. and that is it.

Aamir said...

Dear Moderators,

Post this on your blog.

C.M. NAIM on Pakistan’s Conspiracy Theorists a.k.a. Urdu Columnists


Admin said...

The present mess in the media is created by Shaheen Sehbai, Dr Shahid Masood, Kamran Khan and Ansar Abbasi about Kerry Luger Bill.

About Shaheen Sehbai [he is angry because he demanded the Diplomatic Position and was refused]. He is filing reprts after reports against Hussain Haqqani in The News International whereas the same Hussain Haqqani [Pakistan's Ambassador in USA] and Wajid Shamsul Hassan [Pakistan High Commission in UK] and many others used to be the regular contributor for his Internet Magazine South Asia Tribune [based in USA], Mr Sehbai often activate deactivate his deceptive internet magazine as per his interests. Read Hussain Haqqani in SATRIBUNE. The other day General Hamid Gul while talking to Sajjad Mir on NEWS ONE condemned Hussain Haqqani while quoting Shaheen Sehbai's Story published in the The News International whereas the same Shaheen Sehbai was the one who published the review on Hussain Haqqani's Book. Read complete background of Shaheen Sehbai's myesterious escpae from Pakistan under Musharraf to attain Exile in USA and his return back to Pakistan under the same Musharraf. Read the background of Shaheen Sehbai's Internet Magazine.


The Deceptive Cloak of Musharraf's Enlightened Moderation
WASHINGTON DC, June 15, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

By Husain Haqqani

WASHINGTON, June 15: The arrest in California of a Pakistani father and son allegedly linked to terrorism highlights, once again, the superficiality of the Pakistani regime’s rhetoric about changing the country’s direction.

So far no evidence has been presented by US officials of the California detainees being linked to Al-Qaeda, except an affidavit by one of the accused admitting to attending a militant training camp near Rawalpindi. It is possible that the Pakistanis arrested in California turn out to be innocent of Al-Qaeda links, joining the ranks of hundreds of Muslims caught in America’s currently over-zealous law enforcement. It is equally possible, however, that they were associated with a Pakistani Jihadi group, which in turn might be linked to the global network loosely described as Al-Qaeda.
The Pakistani Foreign Office was, as usual, quick in denying that any Al-Qaeda facility exists in Pakistan. Of course, it is the same Foreign Office that, through its permanent representative to the United Nations has been periodically debating the definition of terrorism at the UN even though Pakistan has ostensibly been a crucial ally in the US-led global war against terrorism. One could ask Pakistani officials how they can be America’s partners in fighting terrorism if they do not agree with the US definition of terrorism but that argument is not the subject of our immediate concern.

The same week that the California arrests served as a reminder of the Jihadi presence in Pakistan, the famed victim of a gang rape whose rapists had earlier been set free was detained and forbidden from traveling abroad. The “enlightened moderate” State in Pakistan chose to extend its protection to the perpetrators of the gang rape rather than Mukhtaran Mai, the victim.

With the passage of time, differences between the “Islamist” dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq and the “modernizing” regime of General Musharraf are clearly a lot less pronounced than Musharraf’s supporters make them out to be. The military regime’s priority appears to be to suppress or deny bad news rather than to change the circumstances that give rise to it.

In case of the California arrests the Pakistani authorities should have obtained full information and checked the facts on ground before setting their spin machine in motion. One of the California accused reportedly told his interrogators that he attended a Jihadi facility run by Maulana Fazlur Rehman at “Tamal in Rawalpindi.” Given that the FBI officer writing the Pakistani detainee’s statement was unfamiliar with both Rawalpindi’s geography and the who’s who of Pakistani Jihadism, it is perfectly possible that he simply failed to figure out the information he was given.

Admin said...

Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, originally of Harkat-ul-Ansar has maintained a Jihadi facility at Dhamial in Rawalpindi for many years. Had the Pakistan Government been serious in its claims of uprooting militancy and terrorism, it would have paid some attention to this possible link between last week’s arrests in California and a shadowy group that participated in the officially sanctioned Afghan and Kashmir jihads.
Maulana Khalil was one of the signatories of Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa against the United States and was reportedly in the camp struck by US cruise missiles in Afghanistan in 1998. In January 2004, the Los Angeles Times reported that Maulana Khalil remained openly active despite government-imposed bans on him and his organizations. Khalil had survived the ban in 1995 on Harkat-ul-Ansar and renamed it Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. When Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was banned after September 11, 2001, he emerged as the leader of Jamiat-ul-Ansar.

Instead of doing anything about Maulana Khalil or his followers after the publication of the LA Times report, Pakistani security services threatened the newspaper’s Pakistani reporter. The reporter’s reporting, rather than Maulana Khalil’s activities appeared to irk Pakistani officials more. Maulana Khalil was finally arrested with considerable publicity in March 2004 only to be released quietly seven months later.

He has reportedly gone underground after the recent arrests of his followers in California. Unlike Mukhtaran Mai, the rape victim, Pakistani authorities are unable to find and detain him. Ironically, the same Pakistani officials who had no qualms about keeping Asif Ali Zardari (husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto) in prison without a conviction for almost eight years have never found sufficient reason to detain Maulana Khalil – or several other militant Jihadi leaders for that matter.

It should be obvious to all but the most naïve that General Pervez Musharraf’s U-Turn in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 has been selective and aimed more at pleasing the United States than at ridding Pakistan of domestic militant groups. General Musharraf made his views clear in an interview with the Washington Post in 2002, in which he made a distinction between various elements of Pakistan’s militant problem and stressed that the militants fighting in Kashmir were freedom fighters.

“There are three elements of terrorism that the world is concerned about,” Musharraf said in that interview and went on to list these three elements. “Number one, the Al-Qaeda factor. Number two is what [the Indians] are calling cross-border terrorism and we are calling the freedom struggle in Kashmir. Number three is the sectarian [Sunni vs. Shia] extremism and sectarian terrorism in Pakistan...The third one is more our concern, and unfortunately, the world is not bothered about that. We are very much bothered about that because that is destabilizing us internally.”

Thus, in the General’s world view sectarian terrorists were the real source of trouble while Al-Qaeda’s Arab members had to be apprehended to ensure the flow of US support. Homegrown militants trained for operating in the region were the least of Musharraf’s concern at the time of that interview. But Pakistani authorities cannot eliminate the international terrorist network or the sectarian militias without decapitating the domestic Jihadi networks. All Islamist militant groups sympathize with one another and in some cases, such as Kashmiri Jihadi groups and sectarian militias, have overlapping memberships.
From the point of view of Pakistan’s Islamist militants and their backers in the establishment, Jihad is only on hold but not yet over.

Admin said...

The major Kashmiri Jihadi groups retain their infrastructure that could be pressed into service at a future date. Afghanistan’s Taliban also continue to find safe haven in parts of Pakistan as recently as the spring of 2005. Afghan and American officials complain periodically of the Taliban still training and organizing in Pakistan’s border areas but their protests are rejected summarily with rhetoric similar to the one about domestic militant groups.

The Musharraf regime has been careful to take all steps necessary to retain the goodwill of the United States and its rhetoric of “enlightened moderation” has won it America’s support. President Bush described Musharraf as “a courageous leader” who had risked his life to crack down on the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, declared during a March 2005 visit to Pakistan that Pakistan “has come an enormously long way...This is not the Pakistan of September 11. It is not even the Pakistan of 2002.”

American officials regularly express the belief that Pakistan had turned the corner and could now be trusted as an American ally. The United States sees Pakistan’s glass as half full rather than half empty. For Pakistanis faced with on-ground realities, such as militants living in their midst and the treatment of gang rape victims like Mukhtaran Mai, there is little in the glass that gives them satisfaction.

The writer is Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University and author of the forthcoming book 'Pakistan Between Mosque and Military' (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005, Title Top Left)

Admin said...

In Pakistan Its Not Rule of Law But Law of the Ruler That Matters

By Husain Haqqani

WASHINGTON DC, July 13, 2005 | ISSN: 1684-2057 | www.satribune.com

WASHINGTON, July 13: The hesitation of the Pakistani authorities in issuing a new passport to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif highlights Pakistan’s greatest weakness. Pakistan is a country run on the whims of its rulers rather than on the basis of its constitution and laws enacted by elected legislatures.

Under Pakistani law, every citizen is entitled to a passport upon presentation of proof of citizenship, usually a national identity card. There is no dispute that Mr. Sharif is a Pakistani citizen. The Government’s claim that he agreed on December 9, 2000, under a deal brokered by Saudi Arabia, to live in exile for an unspecified period is irrelevant to his right to a passport as a citizen. How can an unlawful deal between a captor and a captive trump one’s citizenship rights?
In any case, the Government has failed to produce the agreement it claims was reached between the Sharif family at the time Mr. Sharif was released from prison and sent into exile. Mr. Sharif was toppled in a coup d’etat in 1999 and imprisoned, later to be charged with several “crimes.”

If he was, as the military Government claimed, a criminal, General Musharraf had no right to release and pardon him without completing the due process of law. If, however, he was innocent, there was no justification in imprisoning him simply because the military found him to be unworthy of running the country.
In either case, where does Pakistan’s constitution (even after its many mutilations) empower the Chief of Army Staff to deprive a Pakistani of the right to return to his country or to secure a passport for travel abroad?

Even if General Musharraf’s claim is right and Mr. Sharif went into exile voluntarily, the alleged agreement was political rather than a legally binding one. If General Musharraf can go back on his political agreement with the Opposition regarding relinquishing his military uniform at the end of 2004 due to changed circumstances, what prevents Mr. Sharif from backing out of his unwritten commitment not to return to Pakistan?

In any case, what does any of this have to do with Mr. Sharif’s right to possess a Pakistani passport? Not long ago, Pakistani authorities appeared to link renewing Ms. Benazir Bhutto’s passport to knowing her travel plans.

Ms Bhutto and Mr. Sharif’s are General Musharraf’s political challengers. The General has a political interest in keeping them in exile. But the question of when and how a Pakistani citizenship gets his or her passport should be a matter of law not of political expediency.

One has read several news stories about how different branches of Pakistan’s Government, from the intelligence services to the Interior Ministry and the Foreign office, are waiting for General Musharraf’s decision on whether or not a passport is to be issued to Mr. Sharif.

This leads to a question that would best be answered by the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Sir Mark Lyall-Grant, who recently took it upon himself to declare that the current system of governance in Pakistan cannot be called a dictatorship. What other word in the English language describes a system of governance where basic decisions such as whether a citizen gets his passport or not are made by one man and not on the basis of well-defined laws?

Not long ago, General Musharraf acknowledged that he had ordered the inclusion of rape victim Mukhtaran Mai’s on the Exit Control List (ECL). Mukhtaran Mai’s passport was also taken away by officials, only to be returned to her after intervention by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. General Musharraf claimed he took these steps to prevent Mukhtaran Mai being manipulated by some NGOs into spoiling Pakistan’s image.

Admin said...

Ironically, the Exit Control List is meant to prevent criminals and those under investigation for crimes from leaving the country. Nothing in the law gives the country’s ruler the right to put a rape victim on the ECL even if the purpose of such restrictions is to protect the country’s image.

Once again, Her Britannic Majesty’s High Commissioner might care to introduce us to the political science term in the English language that describes an unelected ruler whose word becomes law and whose definition of national interest can only be changed by him.

The reluctance of the Government to issue Mr. Nawaz Sharif his passport is not the first time in Pakistan’s history that citizenship rights have been arbitrarily determined by the country’s rulers. In 1971, after the creation of Bangladesh, several hundred thousand Pakistani citizens were stranded in their country’s former Eastern wing. These people and their families had migrated from India to Pakistan at the time of the 1947 partition to become Pakistani citizens.

When the country was torn into two, they chose to remain Pakistanis and demanded the right to come to the remaining part of Pakistan. Any other country would have recognized that right without any argument and arranged for their repatriation. But successive Pakistani Governments argued that the repatriation of stranded Pakistanis from Bangladesh would upset the ethnic balance in West Pakistan and put an undue burden on the country’s economy.

In a tragic farce, General Ziaul Haq’s military regime tied repatriation of Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh to availability of international assistance. Saudi Arabia helped create a trust to fund the return of Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh to Pakistan. But since when are citizenship rights a matter of economics?

What other country has refused to allow its citizens the right to return to their homeland on grounds that the Government did not have enough money left from its defense spending to enable them to live in their own country? The Pakistanis in Bangladesh should have been issued Pakistani passports based on their citizenship and their inalienable right of return to their country of citizenship. They would have found a way of eking out a living just as tens of millions of other Pakistanis do.

The military-bureaucratic complex that controls Pakistan’s destiny saw the matter, not from the lens of citizenship rights but from the prism of its ability to manage the country. That management approach, where the boss is always right, contributes to Pakistanis having a lesser sense and feeling of citizenship than in many other countries.

Not only are Pakistan’s citizens not allowed to choose their own rulers, the country’s rulers arrogate to themselves the authority of determining whether a citizen has any rights at all or not.

The disregard for law in relation to passports, but in the reverse direction, was witnessed in 1993 when the Pakistani military wanted to install Mr. Moeen Qureshi as caretaker Prime Minister. Mr. Qureshi had lived in the United States for several decades, had taken up US citizenship and by most accounts had not regularly renewed his Pakistani passport or obtained a Pakistani National identity card.

Mr. Qureshi was issued both his national identity card and passport in Singapore so that he would not arrive in the country without these documents before becoming Prime Minister. He was, of course, entitled to Pakistani citizenship and there is no reason to impugn his commitment or services to Pakistan.

The issue is that it was not Mr. Qureshi’s right as a dual citizen but rather the desire of the army commander at the time to name him caretaker Prime Minister that secured him his passport. Had it been a matter of right, Mr. Sharif’s right to a passport would have received the same attention at the Pakistani Consulate in Jeddah that Mr. Qureshi’s did at the Pakistan Embassy in Singapore.

Admin said...

London Bombings and Pakistani Connection: A Pakistani View

By Husain Haqqani

WASHINGTON DC, July 20, 2005

WASHINGTON, July 20: The July 7 terrorist bombings in London have led to greater scrutiny of Pakistan’s role in fomenting global Jihad. The London bombers were Britons of Pakistani origin and at least three out of the four visited Pakistan recently. It is natural for the international community to wonder why so many elements of Islamist extremism have a Pakistani connection.

Pakistan’s pro-US ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has responded to the London attacks by ordering a crackdown on extremist groups. Pakistan’s suave diplomats, western educated technocrats and articulate generals can be expected over the next few days to highlight their government’s cooperation in the war against terrorism since Musharraf abandoned support for Afghanistan’s Taliban regime in 2001.

The main theme of the Pakistani establishment’s argument has already been articulated by Mr. Munir Akram, Pakistan permanent representative of the United Nations. Mr. Akram told the BBC that the UK “should try not to blame foreign countries for influencing the London suicide bombers” and that “Britain had to look at its own problems to understand the root causes of terror.” According to the Pakistani UN ambassador, “You have to look at British society - what you are doing to the Muslim community and why the Muslim community is not integrating into British society,... and not try to externalize the problems Britain faces with regard to race and religious relations.”

Of course, Mr. Akram’s argument fails to explain why other communities in Britain subjected to racism or discrimination have not turned to terrorism and why the argument about not externalizing domestic problems should not apply to Pakistan.

For decades, Pakistan’s aloof bureaucratic rulers have blamed everyone but themselves for Pakistan’s problems. “The British role in partition was unfair, leaving the unfinished business of Kashmir that Pakistan has had to resolve through Jihad; The US did not assist Pakistan in achieving a decisive victory against India in the 1965 war; The Indians divided Pakistan in 1971 and the Americans did nothing to save the country’s unity; Sectarianism in Pakistan is the result of the Iranian revolution; The Taliban rose to power because the Americans lost interest in Afghanistan; Extremism in Pakistan is the result of Pakistan’s crucial role in the anti-Soviet Jihad in Afghanistan.” Etcetera. Etcetera.

Perhaps it is time for Pakistan’s ruling oligarchy to wake up to its own mistakes and face its own history, instead of constant spin. The Muslim League’s failure to win over Shaikh Abdullah before partition probably contributed more to depriving Pakistan of Jammu and Kashmir than did the inequities of the British, who partitioned India in a hurry.

Pakistan’s generals made enormous miscalculations while blundering into the 1965 war and should have known that the US would not come to their rescue. The arrogance of Pakistan’s military-intelligence combine and the mistreatment of Pakistan’s then majority population, the Bengalis, led to the creation of Bangladesh.

Pakistan’s unpopular rulers chose to encourage sectarianism in an effort to contain the potential of popular support for the Iranian revolution.

Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan was a conscious decision of the country’s establishment but the establishment failed to match its ambitions with competence.

It is time for Pakistan’s ruling oligarchy to face its cumulative mistakes and start addressing the culture of blame and prejudice that has been part of officially sponsored discourse in the country. Of course, Pakistan has legitimate security interests and must pursue these with intelligent diplomacy. But the policies of constant invoking of religion in affairs of state, unconventional warfare against neighbors as a means of containing their power, and duality in dealing with the west have failed and that failure must now be accepted.

Admin said...

Pakistanis cannot go around seeking western aid in return for strategic cooperation while hating the west at the same time.

There is no doubt that Musharraf has selectively cooperated with the United States and other western governments since 9/11 and Pakistan has made some high profile Al-Qaeda arrests. But Pakistan has yet to acknowledge, let alone deal with, the ideology of hatred and militancy that has been cultivated as state policy for over four decades.

The threat of terrorism to the west does not come exclusively from Arabs formally affiliated with Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda, whom the Pakistan government has done much to pursue. Other groups organized to “avenge” real and perceived humiliation of Muslims are an equally significant menace, operating as “baby Al-Qaedas.” Afghan, Kashmiri and Pakistani Islamist groups share Al-Qaeda's ideology even when they have no direct links to bin Laden's network.

Some of Pakistan’s madrassas are no longer just bastions of medieval theology, which they were for centuries without giving rise to terrorism. They have evolved into training centers for radical anti-Western militancy. Pakistan’s school curriculum cultivates the sentiment of Muslim victimhood and inculcates in young minds the hatred of Jews and Hindus, in particular, and non-Muslims in general.

Admin said...

When it emerged as an independent state in 1947, Pakistan was considered a moderate Muslim nation that could serve as a model for other emerging independent Muslim states. Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was a Shia Muslim. Its first law minister was a Hindu. Its foreign minister belonged to the Ahmadiyya sect, which opposes Jihad. Although Pakistan’s birth was accompanied by religious riots and communal violence, the country’s founders clearly intended to create a non-sectarian state that would protect religious freedoms and provide the Muslims of South Asia an opportunity to live in a country where they constituted a majority.

Over the years, however, Pakistan has become a major center of Islamist extremism. The disproportionate influence wielded by fundamentalist groups in Pakistan is the result of state sponsorship of such groups.

Pakistan’s rulers have played upon religious sentiment as an instrument of strengthening Pakistan’s identity since soon after the country’s inception. Fears of Indian domination were addressed by embracing an Islamist ideology. Islamist militants were cultivated, armed and trained during the 1980s and 1990s in the Pakistan military’s efforts to seek strategic depth in Afghanistan and to put pressure on India for negotiations over the future of Kashmir. Although Musharraf has restrained some of these home-grown groups since 9/11, he has refused to work towards eliminating them completely.

In an effort to justify the ascendancy of Pakistan’s military in the country’s affairs, a national ethos of militarism was created. An environment dominated by Islamist and militarist ideologies is the ideal breeding ground for radicals such as the July 7 suicide bombers. In their search for identity, British-born Pakistanis have been drawn into the whirlpool of their parents’ homeland.

The United States and other western nations have put their faith in the promises of General Musharraf’s military to move Pakistan away from its Islamist radical past and towards “enlightened moderation.” But the London attacks point out the deep-rooted problems in Pakistan.

The major Kashmiri Jihadi groups retain their infrastructure because the Pakistani military has not decided to give up the option of battling India at a future date. Afghanistan’s Taliban also continue to find safe haven in parts of Pakistan as recently as the spring of 2005.

Western policy makers would rather see Pakistan’s glass as half full rather than half empty and Pakistan’s ruling oligarchy would like to keep things that way. This approach distracts Pakistan’s rulers, and their western supporters, from recognizing the depth of Pakistan’s problem with Islamist extremism and a violently irresponsible attitude towards the rest of the world.

The writer is author of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace book “Pakistan Between Mosque and Military.” He was Pakistan’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka from 1992 to 1993 and teaches International Relations at Boston University


Admin said...

Everyone have strong reservation on the acts and omissions (political) by very few bad individuals in ISI, in the past. But, whole institution cannot be condemned.

Now what Shaheen Sehbai did, he gave a detailed interview (while in Washington to save his skin) to one Shobha John and that interview published in Times of India dated March 18, 2002, in which he narrated and offered a painted picture of oppression and harassment by ISI people.

Minor example as to how CIA and other agencies use Journalists even Senior Correspondents like Shaheen Sehbai. Brigadier Imtiaz used to hate him when Imtiaz was NUMBER 2 IN ISI and Number 1 in IB. But same Shaheen Sehbai, Ansar Abbasi, Rauf Klasra and GEO TV give this Rascal much more importance than Imtiaz deserved.
Mr. Shaheen Shebai [Former Correspondent of Daily Dawn Pakistan, Former Editor of The News International, Ex Director News of ARY ONE TV Channel, Former Director of GEO News Network, and presently on of the many Editors of The News International, Jang Group of Newspapers, Pakistan] I hope you remember the background of Mr Shahin Sehbai [One of the Editor of The News International and earlier he was in Dawn], he had escaped from Pakistan [to save himself from the wrath of the Establishment headed by General Musharraf and Co particularly after the Controversy of Shaheen Sehbai's Story on the Murder of Daniel Pearl after the start of War on Terror] and Mr Shaheen used to run a Web Based News Service i.e. South Asia Tribune but suddenly Mr Shaheen Sehbai reappeared and closed his website [whereas Mr Shaheen during his self imposed exile in USA used to raise hue and cry against the Military Establishment that he and his family member's life is in danger] he returned to Pakistan and that too under the same Martial Law of General Musharraf and joined ARY TV Channel then GEO and then The News International [where he is presently working].

Same Shaheen Sehbai

THE ENEMY WITHIN – Peril in Pakistan Don’t be fooled by Musharraf’s nice-guy pose. By SHAHEEN SEHBAI Saturday, March 23, 2002 12:01 A.M. EST [Wall Street Journal]

The primary instrument of change in achieving this devil’s pact is Gen. Musharraf’s recasting of the ISI as a more docile institution, ostensibly purged of Islamist hard-liners and Taliban sympathizers. But buyers beware.

Over 20 years ago, another military dictator, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, created the first reign of the ISI when he empowered the agency to run a different war in Afghanistan–the one against the Soviets. Billions of American taxpayer dollars and weapons of every imaginable type flowed through the ISI into mujahedeen hands–while the U.S. government looked the other way as Zia built Pakistan’s nuclear capacity, trained Islamic militants and inculcated radical Islam into the barracks and the schools. Rogue terrorist armies were born and no one paid attention.

Admin said...

In 1985, under an absolutist formula for controlling press dissension, Zia tried to patch together political legitimacy at home under farcical nonparty elections, and by handpicking his parliament and prime minister. An August 1988 plane crash that killed Zia left a power vacuum filled by out-of-control intelligence outfits. The birth of America’s present-day nemeses, the Taliban and al Qaeda, were–in the eyes of the all-powerful Islamist generals–the ISI’s most important contributions to Pakistani national security after the bomb.

Another intelligence disaster now looms. Its similarities to the Zia days are remarkable. Gen. Musharraf, the military dictator of the day, is the new darling of the West fighting the new enemy in Afghanistan. Billions of American taxpayer dollars are again set to flow. A beautiful facade has been crafted for external consumption, on everything from press freedoms and elections to a corruption-free economy and an Islamist-free state. The reality is harshly different.

Shaheen Sehbai in 2002 [but why exile in a country who were the backers of Musharraf Regime and why and how Shaheen Sehbai turned up in Pakistan in under the same Musharraf]

Admin said...

Exile in Virginia

“If you expose corruption, you pay,” said Sehbai, who now lives in self-imposed exile in Virginia and publishes the crusading South Asia Tribune on the Internet.
He said police are harassing relatives he left behind, including several who have been jailed for questioning on what Sehbai insists is a trumped-up charge that he robbed his former brother-in-law’s house at gunpoint. A cousin’s 18-year-old son has been in jail since late August without charge. Qureshi, Musharraf’s spokesman, insisted that police are acting independently in a criminal investigation.

Sehbai fled Pakistan with his wife and four children in February, after publishing a story that said Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, convicted in the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, had admitted links to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Sehbai said he was urged to apologize to the ISI’s political and media chief, Maj. Gen. Ehtasham Zamir. But he refused.


All of the above: cited as recommended by our most dedicated contributor Mr Aamir Mughal.

Admin said...

C.M. NAIM on Pakistan’s Conspiracy Theorists a.k.a. Urdu Columnists

C. M. NAIM is Professor Emeritus of Urdu at the University of Chicago. Besides being an acclaimed columnist, he has written extensively on Urdu language and literature and has translated widely from Urdu fiction and poetry


Aamir said...

Dear Nishapuri Sahab and Team,

I am humbled and honoured.

Regards, May Allah grant you every happiness here and in the life hereafter. May Allah give your pen and brain more power to fight against Tyranny, Cruelty and Injustice. May the Lord be always with you and your team.

Anonymous said...


The current bombings in Pakistan are definitely a cause for concern. It is unfortunate that after a successful military operation in Swat and surrounding areas, these shameful militants still take pride in the loss of human lives. Then again, it is difficult to expect them to respect the value of life once they become suicidal and so keen on killing others. The Kerry-Lugar Bill is another operation that has exposed the lack of respect journalists have for others as well. From fake stories, to conspiracies and downright lies, Pakistan’s media has seen and done it all. The legal battle ensuing from the lies has only proved the malice and bad intentions with which journalists like Ahmed Quraishi pen their writings.

Unknown said...

I will read time to time that


Rabia said...

excellent work, Abdul

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