Two Pakistani Officials Fired For Promoting Indian PropagandaFebruary 10, 2010
You will not believe this. But this happened in Pakistan. And two junior government officials might lose their jobs over this. But with a pro-US government in power in Islamabad, and former employees of Voice of America allowed to steer the nation’s media policy, it shouldn’t be surprising to see a Pakistani mouthpiece promoting Indian spin.
India’s Central Reserve Police Force, used by India’s government to suppress the Kashmiri struggle for freedom, killed a 16-year-old Kashmiri boy the other day.
Nothing new in that. Indians have done worse, like mass graves and genocide. What was unusual here is that Makhdoom Babar Sultan woke up one morning this week in his home in Islamabad to read a clarification in a major Pakistani newspaper issued by the chief of the Indian CRPF assuring readers that Indian occupation police in Kashmir had nothing to do with murdering the 16-year-old, who was last seen throwing stones at Indian soldiers.
Mr. Babar scratched his head. He was shocked to see who hen he tried to see who wrote the story. It was APP, or the Associated Press of Pakistan, the official news agency.
‘Wait a second’, he said to himself, ‘What is APP doing promoting the viewpoint of Indian occupation forces in Kashmir?’
Pakistanis already know that their government in Islamabad was basically tailored by the Americans and the Brits. No secret in that. The Am-Brits expect this government to push their agenda, which these days includes urgently patching up with India so that the Pakistani people and their military can be convinced to allow Indian soldiers into Afghanistan to help the Americans with their failed occupation there.
But peddling Indian propaganda? That’s going too far.
Unlike the rest of us, Makhdoom Babar is lucky to own a newspaper. So he rushed to his office in the morning to write a story on this, titled ‘APP Starts Promoting Indian Govt’s Kashmir Propaganda’.
Two APP journalists have been suspended and a probe is underway that might lead to some more job losses.
Earlier, two journalists from the state-run PTV were suspended for visiting the US embassy without permission.
When I contacted Makhdoom Babar to get his perspective, he replied with this E-mail note:
“Well, the Associated Press of Pakistan, the APP is the official news agency of the government of Pakistan. the aims and objectives behind running this State news agency is to project the Pakistan government’s view point across the globe and throughout the country as well. The Tax Payers’ money is spent on the functioning of this agency because it is supposed to promote and project national interests. Especially when it comes to the very sensitive issues like Occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by Indian Forces, the role of APP becomes very important and sensitive as well. it is supposed to confront the media propaganda of the Indian government that New Delhi continues to carry on with to cover up the gross Human Rights violations in the Occupied Kashmir by its brutal Forces. Now if APP releases a news item that actually contributes to the promotion of Indian view point over the Kashmir related matters, particularly the HR violations related matters, it is really alarming for every Pakistani and for me, as an Editor, it becomes even more worrying. That is why we published this as a major news so that such things should be taken care of in future and are not repeated. We have not been officially made known about any action taken by the APP over this issue however unofficial channels say that APP has suspended 2 of its workers over the matter and the Managing Director of APP is reported to have ordered a probe to dig out as to how it did happen. We appreciate the action taken by the the head of APP as a responsible head of an institution but at the same time we expect that no one should be made a scapegoat and only those should be warned or punished who were actually responsible for this blooper, deliberately or un-deliberately. It was very important for the head of the APP to have taken an action over the matter so that everyone stands warned and alarmed regarding such matters.”
At least two senior members of the incumbent Pakistani government are former VOA employees who served in Washington, D.C. Both are directly involved in how Pakistan’s official media outlets operate. Informally, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington is also considered to have a say in the government’s media strategy, according government officials.