Okara Military Land-Propaganda against Pak Army

 By Sajjad Shaukatokara

Unlike the past wars, the arena of war has changed. In the ongoing era, lethal weapons and subversive tactics used by the terrorists are coupled with propaganda campaign which can be more harmful in damaging the interest of a target country.

In this regard, for the last few months, Pakistan’s armed forces are successfully obtaining their objectives in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) through military operation Zarb-e-Azb against the terrorists who had challenged the writ of the state, and had frightened the entire nation by their terror-acts. Besides, Pak Army has also been coping with subversive activities in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and other parts of the country including tribal areas in wake of India’s war-like diplomacy and cross-border infiltration from Afghanistan’s side. While, as part of the new warfare, foreign intelligence agencies like American CIA, Israeli Mossad and especially Indian RAW are working against the national interests of Pakistan, because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. Equally, their media leave no stone turned in distorting the image of Pakistan’s vital institutions like Army.

But, it is regrettable that by showing unrealistic approach and speaking in the tone of anti-Pakistan external entities, some media persons including those of Pakistan have started a deliberate propaganda against Pak Army. In this context, without knowing reality, and by taking advantage of the judicial activism, our own media anchors and some internal entities have manipulated various cases like Memogate scandal and Mehrangate issue and case of the missing persons.

However, vibrant and aggressive media projections enable the anti-Army elements and propagandists to tarnish the image of Pakistan’s prestigious institutions by publishing selective themes and half truths. The aim is to depict Pak Army and its different echelons in bad light, while creating conditions to build misperceptions about civil-military affairs.

In this respect, journalists and writers like Marvi Sirmed (columnist) and Bushra Khaliq (Asian Human Rights Commission–Hong Kong) through their contacts with Anjuman Mazareen Punjab (AMP) have tried to project one side of the story, as related to Okara Military Land Case, while using insulting remarks for Pak Army, and equating it with occupation forces and Israeli Army. They deliberately twisted the facts, and gave out emotional outbursts against Army, using print and social media. While Bushra Khaliq resorted to use of global platform of AHRC-Hong Kong, and accused Pak Army for assaulting the farmers in Okara, Marvi Sirmed opted to publish anti-Army articles through print (The Nation July 16, 2014) and social media. Both of them felt no shame, no embarrassment and no guilt for committing selective omission against their own Army.

The truth of the matter is that military land in Okara was leased to Mazarieen (Farmers) through a legal contract and the lessee—farmers used to work as tenants. The annual lease/rent was revised in accordance with the contractual terms and conditions, initially agreed by both parties (Army and Tenants). Mazarieen having rejected the revised rates of lease started protesting with a view to politicizing it. This was deliberately done on the instigation of certain anti-Army elements having socio-political clout in the area. Some media reporters also tried to side with Mazarieen, openly pledging to promote their stance. Driven by an inner urge to grab land and encouraged by anti-Army elements, Mazarieen resorted to violence using aggressive postures, provocative slogans and demonstrating arms including knives, daggers and guns. Army representatives tried to defuse the situation through peaceful dialogue, but due to ghastly arrogance shown by Mazarieen, all efforts to resolve the issue through talks failed. Situation became tense, as protestors disrupted water channel, flowing along Okara Cantt, blocked the main GT Road, made encroachments on military land, and made armed assembly against army soldiers patrolling the area. They fired at Army men seriously injuring two soldiers who were evacuated to hospital. Army soldiers reacted in self defense, and resultantly two of the protestors were injured, who later on died. Necessary Police action/FIR has been initiated and the case is in the District Session Court.

Unfortunately, some media reporters and anti-Army elements who are spreading disinformation, are creating speculations by projecting Okara Military Land Case with oblique-angle-vision to promote their vested interests at the cost of Army’s image, which needs to be countered through the facts.

It is notable that Okara Military Land Case is a local issue which will be resolved through court of law, and does not merit to be projected through any global media platform, as has been done by Bushra Khaliq, using Asian Human Rights Commission–Hong Kong to malign Pak Army.

By pursuing the designs of the foreign enemies, Marvi Sirmed should not use derogatory remarks against Pak Army, especially when she is aware that her article projected only one side of the story. She must feel the guilt and shame for giving misleading information to the audience.

Our own media must better counter anti-Army propaganda by Marvi Sirmed and Bushra Khaliq who have controversial background, blunt attitude and vocal propensity to accuse the prestigious national institutions like Pak Army. They failed to mention in their articles that Army soldiers were fired upon by the Mazarieen, and Army reacted in self-defense.

Particularly, journalists must follow media code of ethics in uncovering the whole truth rather than selling their write-ups for petty material gains, and promoting external agenda at the cost of Army.

Being a Pakistani national, Marvi Sirmed must review her anti-Army stance and conduct. This will enable her to become a fair and truthful media person who does not deviate in unearthing the entire truth. Presently, she seems totally biased and predisposed journalist who promotes foreign agenda. She also enjoys good clout in social circles and needs to earn respect rather than be hated by patriotic Pakistanis.

Bushra Khaliq must also reconsider her affinity with Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)-Hong Kong which is an anti-Pakistan web-site. The credibility and real face of AHRC was revealed when it aimlessly maligned Pakistan on mass grave issue, posted graves of Hazara of Quetta. Surely such tags are provided to AHRC by people like Bushra Khaliq who sell their intellect for petty gains.

In fact, neutral public of the area is of the view that some land grabbers are after Okara military land. They are using tenants of military land as a tool to achieve their goals. Independent sources confirmed that Pak Army did not torture any body and no siege was laid against any village. Even, investigations conducted by Police also confirm that Mazarieen created law and order situation in Okara, as they wanted possession of military land through violent protests.

Nevertheless, while speaking in the tone of anti-Pakistan elements, our media persons must not ignored the sacrifices of our own Army regarding the security of the country and against terrorism including services during earthquakes and floods. Biased attitude of the so-called media commentators and journalists have not only been trying to demoralize the armed forces by undermining their fighting spirit, but have also been misguiding the general masses.

Nonetheless, these hostile elements must stop propaganda against Pak Army by spreading disinformation about Okara Military land.

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