Aman Ki Asha: A Big Tamasha
A couple of years back some media brains planned to opt for track three, apparently for the most friendly relations between Pakistan and India. The planners never had the diplomatic or political objectives; rather they were aiming on a gigantic business empire. Hence an idea of ‘Aman ki Asha” (Hope for Peace) was conceived. The puppeteers were sitting somewhere else but the puppets in Pakistan were none other than media tycoon group GEO/ Jang. As far as the Indian business agents were concerned, they came, they saw and they captured (Pakistani market) since they were being provided a strong foothold here by their allies. While on the other side the Pakistani business class was being treated as the step sons on Indian soil and they were tempted to make wild goose chase besides humiliation that came as part of the package deal for them.
The then Pakistan government and the Jang Group, while apparently daggers drawn against each other, were hands in hands behind the closed doors to ensure success for the juicy project. On the GEO’s front the core issues like Kashmir and water accord were thrown on the backseats while the business safeties and securities were pushed into the limelight. Few sumptuous corporate dinners, photo shoots and some melody nights on the pole position while unnoticeable and unconvinced business deals in the backstage were in brief the ‘Aman ki Asha’; a so called peace campaign that was in fact a joint venture of the Times of India (TOI) and the Jang publishing group of Pakistan. Interesting thing is that the TOI had a national objective behind this deal while their Pakistani counterpart had a personal motive in their satchel.
Both the giant groups were working on this plan for last many years and were looking for the right time for the curtain raising. The tyrant Times of India is known for its anti-Pakistan pieces and analysis; hence the alliance of both not only promoted misgivings but confirms their vested interests as well. However the TOI was one step ahead in a way that the group was going into this joint venture for a national cause for which the paper had and will always have his government‘s and the secret agency’s full support and the backing. The corroboration between the TOI and the Jang Group was in a way Track-Three diplomacy which the owners of these two joint ventures had floated for the prosperity of their business empires. There were authenticated reports that the TOI had signed in to this joint venture for; pure national interests, to put the Kashmir issue on the back burner, create misunderstanding between the political class and the establishment of Pakistan, categorically the armed forces and finally a full throttle to the cultural invasion to brain wash the Pakistanis.
For these obvious reasons the Times of India doesn’t enjoy favourable reputation in Pakistan due to its negative and radical policy towards Pakistan, while on the Pakistan side people have started asking too many pricking questions about the Jang group also and that’s putting the group in a tight corner. People still wonder that how come the Jang group’s GEO channel sustain a long shut down, forced upon it during General Musharraf government’s tenure? According to the Jang Group’s own sources, it suffered 40 million dollars of advertisement losses, during the independent Judiciary movement and was shut down for 3 months. Prior to that, the group suffered 20 million dollar worth of losses when it fought for an independent editorial policy during the previous Nawaz Sharif government and amazingly it’s still on its feet.
The GEO programs are well researched and scientifically and psychologically planned; harmless overtly but carries lethal messages covertly. The recent past’s popularity of the GEO channels had out rightly changed the psyche/ taste of the viewers in particular and the masses in general. The format of GEO’s programs clearly indicates its inclination towards the Indian cultural heritage which was and which is discreetly being indoctrinated by them. The channel was eager to take lead seat and dominate the media policies at a later stage which after the government’s backing to Jang Group, are being proved right now. Those who had the love for the motherland, including the armed forces and the majority of Pakistani public, and were concerned, did convey their displeasure but the group’s authorities were probably flying sky high, hence considered it as poking the nose. This provoked the mighty Mir to move a step ahead. He otherwise had the angsts and anxieties that the ISI was sponsoring a new television station, Bol, to dilute his commercial and political clout; hence his newspapers ran hostile reports about Bol. The muck didn’t stop there. The group started a deliberate and well planned character assassination campaign of the armed forces and their secret agencies through the talk-shows and several other programs. The tensions remained underground for quite long, however erupted publicly when after attack on Hamid Mir his journo sibling Amir Mir, without wasting time, accused the ISI of orchestrating the shooting in an emotional accusation that was broadcast for hours on Geo, often against a backdrop of a photo of the ISI DG, General Zaheer ul-Islam.
The Jang group has some of the journalists (not all) aboard with dubious loyalties and sympathies for the foreign agencies who are known for their skill to exploit and flare up the issues. Seeing the Times of India’s track record it is too hard to believe that they would do some constructive thing to improve Indo-Pak bilateral relations. As a matter of fact the cooperation crave by the Jang group is its business objectives while the TOI has the same for further penetration in Pakistani media and political ranks for their ulterior motives and some signs were quite evident after a couple of forums held in Pakistan.
Interestingly, in recent past the TOI and the Jang group planned to have their headquarters at Dubai, where GEO’s godfather, an antisocial, multi-married editor-in-chief lives and keeps a tight grip on a media empire that includes Geo News, several sports and entertainment channels, and a heavy sack of newspapers in Urdu and English. Nevertheless, they had to drop the idea with a heavy heart after the Indian government’s red signal to the TOI group since the Indians wanted to keep this joint venture directly under their thumb at all cost. Unfortunately, the Jang group has left no stone unturned to make efforts for; friends without borders, frequent visits to India, criticise Pakistani armed forces and the defense budget at every forum but if the Jang group is asked that what steps they have taken so far to highlight the burning Indian issues like Kashmir, Maoist movement, Naxalite movement, atrocities towards Dalits and discrimination towards the Muslims, Christians and the women folk then they have no answer to it. GEO’s role post November 26, 2008 massacre remained very dubious. Especially the hype created by this channel about Ajmal Qasab raised many eyebrows. The channel in the name of the freedom of press left no chance to malign Pakistan by trying to confirm that Ajmal Qasab was actually a Pakistani.
The slogan ‘Aman ki Asha’ gives impression of a Hindi catchphrase and reflects Indian dominance. Interestingly, if carefully observed, the doves in the logo are of Indian flag ‘Taranga’ colours and logo also has been designed in such a way that it looks as Lotus, which is Indian national flower used as symbol by some right wing extremist parties of India like BJP too. The likely reasons for kicking campaign Aman ki Asha off are; efforts to negate the two nation theory, to weaken the Pakistan politically and ideologically as Pakistan is the only country India fears, to keep Pakistan busy with GWOT and carryout nefarious designs under that cover, play the blame game at the fastest pace, create rift between the political hierarchy and the army command, to convince Pakistani public that Kashmir is not at all jugular vein for which both the nations are daggers drawn and last but not the least is to blow Balochistan issue out of proportion to put Pakistan on back foot. Currently a limited section of Pakistani media is more like disoriented and directionless, clearly violating all sorts of norms and ethics and professional codes while the Indian media on contrary behaving very responsible and standing beside their government in their silent war against Pakistan at every hole-in. Those who do not want the friendly relations with the Indians, under the current status-quo, are unfortunately being labelled as extremists; a dangerous practice which will have serious ramifications in near future, if not checked timely. It should be remembered that the Kashmir issue is still unresolved and would always remain a litmus test to gauge the Indian sincerity and as long as Kashmir and water issues are not resolved, peace in the region cannot be erected on the puny pillars of ‘Aman ki Asha’, cultural exchanges and MFN (Most Favourite Nation) statuses. Aman ki Asha is in any case an endeavour to give boost to an egoistic man’s business empire and give an upper hand to the Indian Masters and not for the peace in the region. In current scenario it’s nothing more than a big ‘Tamasha’ (game/ fraud) and that needs to be checked timely. The muck should stop right here and right now.