The System Deceives the Public Mandate
Although some elements have been criticizing the Geo TV channel for defaming the armed forces and ISI since the day the Journalist Hamid Mir was injured in an attack by the unidentified gunmen in Karachi, yet without naming Pak Army or Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), they misconceived that the latter is backing the ongoing protest rallies, especially Chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan against the present government. Geo TV has also indirectly raised such baseless allegations. But Imran Khan has denied these false accusations, as he was already regretting the theft of public mandate in the general elections 213. Besides, some politicians and analysts are also saying that that they will not join those forces which want to derail the system of democracy in Pakistan.
However, Imran Khan who has also defended the stance of Army and ISI, announced to boycott Geo and Jang Group. In a press conference on May 17, this year, Imran Khan displayed documentary evidence, revealing that Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, owner of the Geo and Jang Group is working against the national interests of Pakistan and is being funded by foreign countries like UK and the US State Department for shaping the national narrative on foreign agendas, while there is no audit of the Geo network which blackmails those who raise question in this respect.
Imran Khan who has been protesting against the rigging in the elections 2013, repeatedly stated that PML (N) and Geo are the one team having common interests—Najam Sethi, an employee for Geo TV was made PCB chairman as a gift of Geo’s services, and rigging in the polls, while the ex-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also played his role in this regard. Imran Khan further added, “Media trial of ISI and its chief by Geo TV is extremely condemnable which was done as per agenda set by Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman.” He had also indicated that the “US and India will be gladly looking at the maligning of Pakistan’s armed forces by the country’s own TV channel.”
Meanwhile, countrywide protests and rallies in support of armed forces and Pakistan’s prime spy agency, ISI which started since the day, Geo TV channel defamed country’s security agencies, accelerated against the Geo Network after its channel showed blasphemous content on May 14, in its entertainment morning show “Utho Jago Pakistan” by playing a Qawwali (a genre of sufi music) “Ali ke Saath hai Zahra ki Shaadi” in the background of actress Veena Malik and her husband Assad Bashir Khattak’s wedding reenactment. It is a famous Qawwali about the marriage of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) daughter Syeda Fatima Zehra (R.A) with his cousin Hazrat Ali (R.A). In fact, it was part Indian cultural penetration in Pakistan through Geo Media Group. Now, besides the political and religious leaders, the intellectuals and general masses of Pakistan are raising slogans that Geo and Jang Group has been fulfilling foreign agenda, especially that of India against the country, and “shut down the Geo.”
On May 11, this year, country-wide protest rallies led by leaders of PTI and PAT, PML-Q and JI were held against the rigging in the elections, demanding a corruption-free state, instead of a system that brought corrupt politicians in parliament. In this regard, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri of PAT said in his speech that there was no parliament, and denied the presence of democracy, constituted of good governance and purity—both the ingredients are extinct in Pakistan, as the country is being ruled by some particular families, while poor people of the country are deprived from basic necessities.
Pointing out rigging in the polls and the multiple problems faced by the country as well as the people, in one way or the other, both Imran and Dr. Qadri pledged to make a new Pakistan, but they are not against democracy. Their real intent is that the entire electoral exercise is deeply flawed. Hence, they emphasized the introduction of electoral reforms in Pakistan, because the issue is that this corrupt system must go.
Now, Imran Khan has started contacting various political and religious parties like PPP, MQM, PML -Q, JI and PAT to increase pressure on the PML-N government for overhauling the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) due to the rigging in the general elections. The PPP leader of the opposition Syed Khurshid Shah also endorsed Imran Khan’s call for the resignation of all members of the ECP. In these developments, some analysts opine that a grand alliance of the political parties will be concluded for mid-term elections or a massive movement could be launched against the rulers.
Undoubtedly, democracy has displayed its success in the west, but, it has proved to be fruitless in Pakistan. Therefore, it is generally said that “any instrument can be misused.” Pakistan’s politicians and media have always claimed that they nourish democratic ideals, but, we could not establish this system on a strong footing due to irresponsible approach of our political entities including responsible media.
Past experience proves that our political parties have worked on undemocratic principles like hostility for the sake of hostility, formation of alliances and counter-alliances to win the elections. Much time is wasted in retaliation against the previous government instead of fulfilling the promises, made with the voters during election campaign. So, they forget the real aim of public mandate by resolving the economic and social problems of the masses. In this context, they also misguide the general masses by forming extreme opinion among them towards their opponents. In fact, concentration of wealth in few hands has created a privileged class of landowners and industrialists who contest elections winning the same against each other again and again.
During the election campaign, they employ all means, fair or foul to defeat their opponents and capture political power. They mislead the general masses through, false propaganda and exaggerated speeches.
Besides, various mal-practices such as horse-trading, nepotism, bribery, illegal obligations and other forms of corruption are very common among our political leaders. Past experience also shows that an alliance of different parties is formed to launch a mass movement to topple the government, which ultimately leads to military rule in the country when there is no third option, because state can not survive in anarchy.
Particularly, Geo TV conducted controversial debate between politicians and commentators by exploiting every issue without bothering for the integrity of the country. Finally, it left no stone unturned in maligning ISI and its DG under the pretext of Hamid Mir episode which was availed by anti-Pakistan powers like India, US, Israel etc. to intensify their propaganda against Pakistan’s the security agencies.
Notably, in 2011, during the Memogate case, some entities were saying that martial law will be imposed in the country. The then Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani stated, “The Pakistan Army has and will continue to support democratic process in the country.” As Army was acting upon the principle of non-interference in political affairs, therefore, the previous government completed its tenure.
While, leaders of various political and religious parties including all the segments of society have been condemning the Geo and Jang Group by showing solidarity with Pakistan’s armed forces and ISI besides condemning rigging in the polls.
Nonetheless, in case of Pakistan, it is owing to the lack of pre-conditions for the success of democracy like education, tolerance, responsible media and political consciousness that general masses become an easy prey to the system, conducted by shrewd politicians who deceive the public mandate.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations