Sunday, March 25, 2012

‘Punjabi Nationalism’ Dominates National Discourse

Pakistan’s ‘jaundiced’ media is full of terms such as ‘Baloch, Pashtun, or Sindhi nationalism’ and ‘Mohajirs’. What is missing in defining Pakistan’s ethnic groups in the mainstream media is ‘Punjabi nationalism’.
The electronic media, newspapers and communication flood on the social media had printed on the masses’ minds that demands coming from Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan are speaking of the nationalists in those provinces. However, Punjab’s gains in development, education, health, and communication infrastructure are portrayed as national achievements of Pakistan.
In politics, a term like ‘Sind card’ is widely used with PPP despite its presence in all four provinces, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan. ANP is hardly defined in terms of its secular agenda or the only anti-Taliban forces in the volatile northwest Pakistan. Political forces from Balochistan---JWP, BNP and others are presented as soft names of the Baloch rebel groups in the national media. Political parties of Sindh are paraded in the media with the available negative tags attached to their names and causes.
All national traitors Pakistanis have known so far through media are either the Bengalis of the pre-71 Pakistan or the non-Pujabis of the post-71 era--Sindhis, Pashtuns, Balochis and Mohajirs. Starting from Pakistan's latest traitor, Dr Shakil Afridi (the doctor whose small efforts had allegedly got rid the South Asian Islam off the terror godfather Osama bin Laden and Wahabism) is Pashtun. Former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Sindh), former opposition leader late Khan Abdul Wali Khan (Pakhtunkhwa), late GM Syed (Sindh), late Ghaus Bakhsh Bizanjo (Balochistan), to name a few, all are defined as traitors in the mainstream media. Altaf Hussain of MQM can’t come back to Pakistan and leaders like Nawab Akbar Bugti don’t deserve life.
Contrary to this, the Indian-specific media and text books are defining Major Aziz Bhatti, Captain Muhammad Sarwar, Major Muhammad Tufail (a total of 11) as Pakistan’s national heroes. All of them died while defending Punjab in four wars against India from 1948-1999. However, the state and ‘yellow’ media of Pakistan have yet to produce a single hero in the 10- year war against Terrorism in a comparatively tough terrain and tricky battlefield known as the Wild Wild West of Pakistan. 
Over 160 million Pakistanis, today, can’t recall a man or a woman that they know who might have been fallen against the Arab, Central Asian or Pakistani fanatics in the mountains in FATA while defending Pakistan against militancy. One apparent reason for this nation-wide apathy towards soldiers fighting Terrorism is that Pakistan not owning the ongoing war despite its claims of higher causalities at international fora.
The decades long control of the Punjabi mindset and ‘Maulvis-turned-journalists’ on media has locked Pakistani journalism in ‘Punjabi Box’. The journalists living in that particular box can hardly imagine the sensitivities of people and regions existing out of the Punjabi Box. They don’t see Pakistan Muslim League (N) or (Q) as Punjabi nationalists nor they define Sharif brothers as leaders of Punjabi nationalism when they allocate more development funds for Punjab or deny due shares of the other three provinces from the national pool of resources.
Whether it’s a political fight between PPP or Muslim League, differences on NFC award (national resources), provincial autonomy, militancy, royalty rights, blasphemy law, or women rights, Pakistani media shows Punjab’s voice as protagonist and those of other provinces as antagonist in its narration of events. 
As if that is not enough, they cover up Punjab’s causes as Pakistan hard core national interests and label others as Pashtun, Baloch, Sindhi or Mohajir nationalists in a bid to deny them a space on the minds of media viewers, listeners and readers.
The irony is that the state institutes and Pakistani intellectuals call it a ‘media revolution era’ of Pakistan though a reader of the Jang newspapers in 1970s and viewer of Geo TV in March 2012 don’t see a difference in contents and description of facts (Punjab vis-à-vis others). The media revolution in Pakistan has, unfortunately, reinvigorated the Punjabi voice and its outreach, however, and has successfully avoided the ‘Punjabi nationalism’ label for itself while defending the interests of one major ethnic group at all levels in a multi-ethnic country.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Gen Pasha the Only Competent Son?

The average Pakistani would reply in affirmative. The decades old positive image of Pakistan military and showing the ever-smiling face of the ISI chief general Shuja Pasha in media have a smoke screen effect for an open eye, hiding from it the ‘dirty job’ of the men in uniform.
That Gen Pasha will get a third extension as ISI chief is not yet confirmed. However, the possibility of that option or the chances of getting another lucrative job after his retirement on March 18, 2012 makes him the ONLY COMPETENT SON OF PAKISTAN. 
The iron hands at the back of Gen Pasha have already placed him in a first-rate bargaining position--“Give him an extension on his current post or make him the chief watchdog of Pakistan’s nukes.” A win-win deal for Gen Pasha and those who believe in his awesome competence.
The losers are a few bloody civilians. They are damn cared. The powerful establishment matters. It has the self-proclaimed authority of who to be awarded with the ISO certificate. The history tells that privilege is only for the serving and retired military generals in Pakistan. In Gen Pasha case, his lobby has one hundred and one reasons to permanently award him with what best the State of Pakistan can offer to him.
A bloody civilian in Pakistan is not jealous, though. He is simply scratching his head nonstop since May 2, 2011 and hardly asks: How on earth the world’s most wanted man Osama bin Laden (OBL) lived for about six years in a garrison city under the ever-watching eye and ever-spying instinct of Gen Pasha and his institute called ISI?
The bloody civilian asks: What makes the basis of Gen Pasha’s selective intelligence? He would go to London to meet Ijaz Mansoor to find out who in the civil government dared writing a memo to the then US admiral to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after the US raid on OBL’s mansion and would arrest Dr Shakil Afridi who US claimed helped in locating OBL in Pakistan.
The bloody civilian asks: What was the purpose of Gen Pasha visits to the Gulf states soon after the May 2nd national embarrassment? The author of the memo saga Ijaz Mansoor accused him of seeking support of the Arab sheikhs for the military coup. The military, however, believes in Mr Mansoor’s version of the memo scandal but denies his statements on Gen Pasha’s activities during his trips to the Gulf states.
The bloody civilian asks: How a few men in camouflaged uniform attacked PNS Mehran, killing soldiers and destroying the ‘parked’ plane at the base? He asks: Was it an inside job?
He asks: Why ISI is accused of protecting Afghanistan’s militant group Haqqani Network and Quetta Shura? Is it a matter of ‘national interest?
With the exception of those involved in it, everyone in Pakistan asks who is abducting civilians, Baloch nationalists and dissidents and report them ‘missing’?
The very mediamen ask who killed journalist Saleem Shehzad?
Unfortunately, all these questions have been raised since the only competent son of Pakistan Gen Pasha had got the charge of the country’s spy agency ISI.