Geo Media’s Veiled Campaign against Army and ISI
Undoubtedly, media is a powerful instrument to build perceptions and promote ideologies. Media houses like Geo and Jang Group, due to their area of influence, wealth and
assets inland and abroad, have become a monster in Pakistan. By acting upon the anti-Pakistan propaganda for the sake of money, this Media Group follows its own peculiar agenda,
and keeps its financial interests above the national interests of Pakistan.
Since the government through Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) failed to check the negative media trends, Geo Media Group got encouraged and ultimately used its bashing campaign against the Armed Forces and secret agencies. The contents of their tirade are analogous to propaganda products of India, US and other anti-Pakistan elements. PEMRA’s psychological fixation on freedom of expression encouraged Geo and Jang Group to openly criticize the Armed Forces and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), thereby, facilitating promotion of foreign agenda.
The TV anchors, commentators and writers of the Geo Group manipulated different vulnerabilities of Pakistan, during global war against terrorism, instigating separatists in Balochistan, creating lawlessness in Karachi, muddling in the affairs of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, tribal areas, war against the militants, and other issues like dialogue with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and military operation against the Taliban including externally-backed sectarian violence in various cities of Pakistan. But, the collaboration between Geo Media Network and particularly India has been exposed, as 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 in the aftermath of Hamid Mir episode which was manipulated by this Media Group.
Every thing became crystal clear when foreign media, NGOs and human rights groups reactivated their campaign against Pakistan, its Army and ISI by favoring the so-called propaganda of the Geo TV, and misconceptions of Hamid Mir. Particularly, India availed the opportunity, and under the pretext of false accusations, its renowned newspapers, TV channels and high officials maligned ISI. In this connection, Geo Network which enjoys support of external enemies, itself indicates proof that it follows India which wants to destabilize Pakistan. In this context, on April 28, this year, voicing his support for the Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha called upon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif through a letter to stop ISI from suspending Geo TV license.
But, countrywide protests and rallies in support of Armed Forces and Pakistan’s prime spy agency, ISI accelerated against the Geo Group after its channel showed blasphemous content on May 14, 2014 in its entertainment morning show. Even general masses of the country were raising slogans that Geo and Jang Group has been fulfilling foreign agenda, and it should be shut down permanently. Especially, Chairman, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), 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, 2014, while displaying documentary evidence, Imran Khan, revealed, “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 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 added, “Media trial of ISI and its chief by Geo TV is extremely condemnable.”
Imran Khan also criticized the said TV channel’s “Aman Ki Asha,” campaign (For peace) in the eastern border and “Jang Ki Asha” (A campaign for War) in the western border which shows its double standard, while rejecting foreign allegations that ISI or Army is supporting militancy in Afghanistan. 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.”
Now, Geo and Jang Media Group is acting upon a veiled campaign against Pak Army and ISI. This Media Group is being projected by different segments of public opinion, building mechanism, using electronic and print media, as a victim party, while suggestions are being made to national institutions to show magnanimity, and let Geo do its business. Obviously, these opinion builders—being effective key communicators have been approached by owners and leading employees of Geo including resident editors and others, having financial powers to run and conduct a media campaign favoring Geo Media Group, disregarding the fact that in return, Army and ISI would automatically become the object of their criticism.
For the purpose, Geo employees like Ansar Abbasi, Omer Cheema, Ahmed Noorani and Amir Mir have ganged-up against Army and ISI to save their employments and perks offered by Geo. They contend that Geo has been punished for its misconduct and has extended an apology. No doubt, this is an indirect strategy of Geo Group to pursue its anti-Army and ISI media campaign with avenging venom and wicked assertions. They are virtually following an anti-ISI and Army agenda and leave no stone unturned in showing these national institutions in bad light. Public perceptions that Geo is being supported by powerful quarters of the government, and would not mend Tariq Ismail Sagar way get strengthened. Regrettably, certain elements are presenting Geo Group as a subdued victim without realizing the damage being done to the national institutions like Army and ISI.
However, it is suggested that the certain media anchors, writers and key communicators must remain neutral in their objective reporting, and must inform people about ground realities and facts rather than spreading mistrust through prejudiced views, jaundiced mind-set and oblique-angled-vision. It is obligatory for them to follow the ethics of journalism. They must critically observe the elusive conduct and disparagingly insulting attitude of the Geo Group to mend their ways and stop trading national interests. Media analysts will have to develop the strength of character to show respect for the Armed Forces and ISI, and discontinue media exploitation of these national institutions. Besides, creative thinkers like Ayaz Amir must also show farsightedness and refrain from becoming an instrument of Geo’s indirect strategy, designed to defame Army and ISI. Perhaps, in order to fulfill the anti-Pakistan Agenda of the external entities, Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman stands by his pledge that he will teach Army and ISI a lesson.
Nevertheless, other media groups, particularly TV channels must make concerted efforts to counter veiled propaganda campaign of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman and Geo Group, indirectly directed against Army and ISI. In this regard, strong suggestions must be made to Geo and Jang Media group to show positive signs in their behavior, and stop defamatory campaign against Army and ISI. These national institutions simply look after the larger interests of Pakistan and have no grudges against any media group.
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