Zarb-e-Azb and National Media

By: Sohail Parwaz  j

Soon after the 9/11 debacle the things started taking a weird turn. People started smelling a conspiracy against Pakistan but it wasn’t even in the wildest imaginations of the analysts that the ground is being prepared for making Pakistan a scapegoat. Everyone was happy and contended that nothing to worry since Delhi is still far off. Although actual game was to be played in Afghanistan however the cover story was prepared for staging in Iraq. It reminds me of Martin Niemöller’s famous quote, that:

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Exactly the same thing happened with us the Pakistanis. By the time we realised there was no one to stand by our side. We the inopportune were right under the scorching sun. Slowly and gradually things started slipping out of the government’s hands. Pakistan had not only to face the direct fallout of Afghan war but also the budding mushrooms; the product of terrorists’ nurseries, quietly spreading and influencing the innocent minds, throughout Pakistan. Ever since the apocalyptic attacks on the World Trade Centre, so far around 60,000 Pakistanis have lost their precious lives as a result of terrorist attacks, suicide bombing and other attempts while approximately over 16000 soldiers have laid their lives in the line of duty.

These anti-state activities, destruction and havoc caused by the terrorists’ attacks not only ruined the economy but also changed the psyche of the nation as well. The demoralizing factor was prominently dominating the national behavior and that was certainly quite disastrous. People were not feeling safe. Neither personal nor their social lives were secure and safe. Hence the situation was definitely demanding the immediate remedy.

The government decided to give a try to peace negotiations. Despite the fact that the previous attempts to engage the Taliban in dialogue had failed, yet the fresh attempts were made and the first session of the talks, between committees appointed by the government and the Taliban, was held on 26 March 2014 in Islamabad. The talks made no headway although the Taliban were categorically warned that in case of any miscarriage a straight caesarian would be imminent. Unfortunately, these talk too, had good Taliban and bad Taliban ordering as a reigning factor. Most of the groups were willing to give peace a chance, nevertheless, few strongly believed in locking on horns with the government. Sadly, the negotiations collapsed after the execution of 23 Pakistani Frontier Corps soldiers by the Taliban. These soldiers had been held by the insurgents since 2010. Another main factor that impeded the peace talks was a terrorist attack on Karachi Airport for which the Taliban claimed responsibility and which killed 28 people (including security personnel). Soon these parleys met their Waterloo and time came for the only option left available and that was military action.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched to eliminate terrorists destroying their sanctuaries in North Waziristan Agency. The entire nation including media, civil society, political parties, social workers, intellectuals, and general masses appreciated the decision about going after terrorists.

The most heartening thing is that the domestic media is all along playing a constructive role in highlighting the achievements of Armed Forces in wiping out terrorists from North Waziristan Agency. The enduring wish of Pakistani masses to exterminate terrorists from North Waziristan Agency and FATA has been optimistically projected by national media. Almost dominating section of the domestic media showed sense of responsibility, maturity and high esteem for national interests in covering operation Zarb-e-Azb, for which media rightly deserves to be respected. The noteworthy point is that while covering operation Zarb-e-Azb, Pakistani media conducted itself with pride showing greater sense of mellowness and devotion for the Armed Forces. The media reports pertaining to military operation in North Waziristan Agency have been utterly impartial and evocative. Media exercised extreme caution and farsightedness while reporting events of Zarb-e-Azb. Irresponsible reporting and signs of sensationalism were kept totally out, thereby, attaining credibility and earning appreciation of the nation. Media also denied slots to militants and their standpoint during operation in North Waziristan Agency. There was no opportunity for terrorists to get glorified through direct or indirect media means as it has been happening in the past. So far, national media vis-à-vis operation Zarb-e-Azb is proudly standing tall as a patriotic with leaning towards national cause and it’s rightly expected that the media will never disappoint the people. It’s an important war where media is expected to act as cavalry.

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