Do not Discourage the Security Forces
After accepting the demands of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the present government has decided to release some prisoners of the militant outfit in exchange of those Individuals who were kidnapped by the Taliban. But as part of its double game, the TTP has been employing shrewd tactics in order to distort the image of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and the security forces through false propaganda.
In this regard, the TTP claims that their families including women and children have been kept hostage by the Armed Forces are not only fake, misleading and baseless, but are also tarnishing the image of these forces.
Such propaganda gimmick tends to make an emotional appeal to the people to feel sympathetic and develop a sense of compassion for the TTP. On the other hand, thoughtless statements by political leaders, especially Professor Ibrahim of Jamat-e-Islami (JI), repeating TTP demands regarding women and children create false perceptions.
Unfortunately, print media including a report published by the daily, “Nawa-i-Waqt” on March 7, 2014, quoting Information Minister Pervez Rasheed said that Army will have to be included in dialogue process as some important matters, referring to women and children are known only to Army—are totally misleading and confusing. The very idea that Army is holding families of militants as hostages is negative and injurious for Army’s prestige. In fact, militants’ families (women and children) are not with Army.
Ignoring the moral codes of journalism, most of the media reporters, analysts and anchors have adopted negative techniques and unscrupulous practices in their coverage and reporting because they have developed the habit of challenging the prestige of sensitive institutions of the state such as Army, ISI and other law-enforcing agencies.
Since the Supreme Court of Pakistan took notice of various cases, without grasping realities, some politicians and media persons have manipulated every issue and case like the Memogate case, Mehrangate verdict, NRO case, missing persons’ case, law and order situation in Karachi and Balochistan, undecided military operation in North Waziristan, incident of Malala Yousafzai etc., to malign country’s key security intuitions, and to create a rift between Pak Army and general masses. In this context, the leaders of Jamat-i-Islami and PTI have perennially been criticising the Pak Army and ISI in one way or the other, so as to increase their vote bank by misguiding the common men. While our media anchors and so-called human rights groups also disrepute country’s security agencies by exploit one or the other issue. In these terms, political leaders become unintentional victim—benefiting the external plotters, while some of our media commentators are on the payroll of anti-Pakistan powers.
Let us take the example of the missing persons. While anti-Pakistan foreign elements have accelerated their conspiracy against Pakistan to complete their hidden agenda by supporting subversive attacks inside the country through their affiliated militant groups, especially the TTP, but by showing unrealistic approach, Pakistan’s NGOs, human rights organisations and media started a deliberate campaign against country’s law-enforcing agencies, ISI and Pak Army about the disappeared persons.
But, fact of the matter is that majority of the missing persons have been killed in bomb blasts, target killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in various places of Pakistan, arranged by the foreign-assisted militant outfits, particularly TTP. In case of Balochistan, everyone knows that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support anti-Pakistan secret agencies. These terrorists abducted and killed many innocent people and the security personnel in the province, while claiming responsibility in this respect. And since 2001, a majority of Pakistanis also left for Afghanistan for Jehad purposes, without informing their families, while many people joined the Jahadi groups.
On the one side, Pakistan’s Armed Forces are engaged in tribal areas, and the Rangers in Karachi. These security forces are coping with the external-backed terrorists, on the other, due to the pre-information of the ISI; Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies have thwarted many terror attempts of the insurgents through pre-arrests, discovery of weapons and huge explosive material, suicide jackets etc.
It is owing to a wave of ‘pessimistic emotionalism’ instigated by the negative media criticism, pseudo-intellectuals and political activists—stereotypes and prejudices have been created by them against the Armed Forces in such a way that the people should set aside innumerable services and sacrifices of the armed forces, as noted in relation to the Swat and Malakand military operations—resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), floods, desilting of canals (Bhal Safai)—particularly during the Earthquake of 2005, entailing restoration of law and order on many occasions. In the recent past, armed forces were in the frontline for people-salvage from areas of earthquake which hit Balochistan. Since the independence of Pakistan, military personnel saved the countless helpless people by sacrificing their own lives.
It is mentionable that during the previous regime of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, when WAPDA was going to be bankrupted, he had invited the army to manage its affairs. By collecting the electricity bills impartially, even from the influential persons, army’s personnel had saved WAPDA from bankruptcy.
It is notable that during the recent flood in Balochistan, the emotional episodes and heart-shaking stories, covering tragic scenes of rescue missions undertaken by troops of Pak Army are still haunting us all.
Similarly, everyone knows that drought in Tharparkar in Sindh, which was going on for the last three years, has been worsened recently to a dangerous level, raising the death toll of starving children. It has adequately exposed the real worth of the rulers, uncovering their verbal assertions to reach the poor masses in order to save their lives. But Pak Army quickly reached out to victims of the famine with rations, medicines and clothes. Teams of dedicated doctors and specialists established camped in the deserts and offered quality services to save lives.
Besides, army is called in aid of civil power to conduct counter-insurgency operations and maintain order. And countless nation-building projects undertaken by the armed forces speak of their commitment and devotion towards national cause and sense of duty. Soldiers have done great service in the uplift of people of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Balochistan, Gigit-Baltistan, and other far-flung areas of Pakistan by completing development works well in time. They deserve appreciation for all these good deeds.
As regards deliberate criticism, it is easier to engage in a censure and a disparaging discussion, while sitting in a cool-air-conditioned environment away from operational areas where bullet, bombs, rockets, suicidal attacks and terrorists dictate the rules of business. But actual participation in such operations demands strong mettle. Our soldiers can face the enemy under adverse environment, but they cannot digest the comments directed against them by their own media anchors, writers and politicians.
However, TTP’s emotional appeal about their women and children is, in fact, part of propaganda techniques, designed to gain sympathies and develop a sense of compassion for the militants by damaging the prestige of Armed Forces.
Print media must maintain a positive approach in defending own Armed Forces. Their media reports must not dispute the reputation of Pak Army.
Media must realize that quoting Information Minister in publishing incorrect and skewed reports may create sensation, but it will be at the cost prestige and image of Pak Army. At the same time, it also glorifies the cause of the militants, particular of the TTP, who are involved in criminal acts of violence under the pretext of peace dialogue.
To counter such propaganda, one needs additional media efforts with supporting themes that there is no truth in such propaganda, particularly in wake of peace talks between the government and the TTP.
So, instead of discouraging our security forces like Armed Forces, ISI and law-enforcing agencies through false propaganda, our media and other similar entities must encourage these soldiers including security personal who are actively engaged in fighting the war against terrorism. Media must itself realize and also provide true information to the general masses. Their anchors and commentators must indicate that while facing the enemy along borders, our soldiers are committed in counter-insurgency operations, fighting the menace of terrorism—and engaged in rescue missions like flood relief and earthquake-salvage duties. Thus, they are doing a great service to the nation. They deserve admiration and the nation must not hesitate in boosting their morale by encouraging them. In this respect, positive media projections will enable the armed forces to maintain their real potential and deliver at an opportune time. Otherwise, negative criticism will help the enemy to achieve its goals of demoralizing our armed forces and reducing the combat efficiency of the soldiers.