Human Rights Watch launches campaign against media
By: Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: Human Rights Watch (HRW), the leading human rights organisation of the world, has launched an offensive against the media instead of responding to journalistic criticism by ‘The News’ on its World Report-2013.
HRW director in Pakistan Ali Dayan Hasan, in different media interactions, instead of elaborating the points of HRW World Report-2013 regarding Pakistan or discussing the points of criticism in ‘The News’ story, has started attacking the newspaper and leveling different baseless allegations.
The News has discussed with the leaders of the religious and political organisations about the findings of the HRW World Report-2013 regarding Pakistan and journalistic objections raised by the newspaper.
HRW, in its present report and the earlier testimony before US House committee working on Balkanisation of Pakistan, has held that there is Shia-Sunni infighting in Pakistan and Sunni militant groups are killing Shia Muslims.
HRW has also held that it is believed that Shia Muslims, especially Hazara community in Balochistan, are being killed at the behest of Pakistan Army.
After The News article, Dayan is now holding the government responsible for such killings in his recent media interviews but, in his report, he never held the PPP government responsible and never discussed the government’s failure to control these terrorists.
It is yet another fact that when more than 100 people of Hazara community were killed in a major terrorist attack last month, Hazara community protested with bodies of 86 martyrs and whole country without any discrimination of sect or cast supported the Hazaras. It is important to mention that major demand of Hazara community was to hand over Quetta/Balochistan to Pakistan Army and an army-led targeted operation against terrorists Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and SSP.
To differentiate facts from fiction, The News especially contacted the Shia Ulema. Allama Ameen Shaheedi, president of Majlas-e-Wahdat-ul-Muslameen, a leading Shia organization of the country, when approached by The News and was asked about HRW finding that “Sunni militant groups killing Shia Muslims”.
Shaheedi said in categorical words: “Use of these Sunni-Shia infighting words is a conspiracy of America and West against Pakistan. Some NGOs and even some elements in media which are aligned to the West or Americans repeatedly use these terms to fuel sectarianism.” Shaheedi said that sectarian violence in Pakistan is not at all a fight between Sunni or Shia. “It is, in fact, a fight between terrorists and the Muslims,” Shaheedi said.
Shaheedi said that terrorist elements and groups are not at all representatives of the Sunni Muslims. He repeated that these terms are used by pro-West lobbies to escalate sectarianism in Pakistan. Regarding the question on HRW finding that Shia Muslims and Hazara community is being killed at the behest of Pakistan Army, Shaheedi said that the government is primarily responsible for any violence and terrorism against Shia Muslims responsible for all this mess merely for the reason that they are unable to control all this. “But, holding only one institution responsible is insane,” Shaheedi maintain.
Abdul Khaliq Hazara, who heads Hazara Democratic Party in Quetta, while talking to The News said that terrorism incidents and killing of Shia and Hazara community people could not be termed as “Shia-Sunni infighting”. He said that whole country and the world supported Hazara community during its recent protest after killing of 106 people in a terrorist attack without any division of sect or nationality.
Abdul Khliq said that the Balochistan government was primarily responsible for the worst terrorism against Hazara community during last more than four years. He maintained that his party has demanded during the January sit-in an army-led targeted operation against the terrorists in Balochistan. “Still Pakistan Army is our last hope against the terrorist, and we still army operation against terrorists in the province,” Abdul Khaliq Hazara said.
He said that our community has doubts that some elements in FC, which has been given ‘police-powers’ since long have links with terrorist, but we never ever held any institution responsible for the terrorism.
In a Tuesday programme, when Ali was confronted by a senior journalist as to what was written against him, Ali Dayan said; 1) They wrote I am a traitor, 2) I should be booked in treason case, 3) Contempt proceedings should be initiated against me, 4) I am a ‘kaafir’ (non-believer) 5) They published my personal phone number.
Amazingly, Dayan said and anchorperson of the programme endorsed that “a media group is running a campaign after HRW report to kill a human rights activist (Dayan)”.
However, factually, ‘The News’ and ‘Jang’ were the only newspapers which published the entire HRW report and also published one ‘News Analysis’ criticizing HRW’s praising of the PPP government and giving clean chit to government for many real human rights violations.
Ali Dayan and anchorperson, who is known for her emotional approach, termed this single article “a campaign” without telling the viewers that complete HRW was also published by the same newspaper.
The anchorperson crossed all limits of decency and journalistic professionalism by alleging that the newspaper published the “analysis” as a ‘news story’ on the front page. However, the article was published as “News Analysis” and was not on the front page. The News article “Let’s see what HRW could not see in Pakistan” published on Feb 2 is available on The News web for reference of readers.
Ironically, the first four things told by Dayan during the programme (among the five points mentioned above) were not even mentioned in The News article. The News neither termed Dayan as ‘traitor’ nor wrote him as ‘kaafir’. Such things can never be written, and it was apparent that falling short of arguments, Dayan and anchorperson aired emotional and false accusations to win sympathy of viewers for obvious reasons.
It is true that when Ali Dayan Hasan appeared in a United States House committee hearing on the subject “Balkanization of Pakistan” (Breaking of Pakistan) as a witness last year, and this scribe was not able to reach Dayan for his version, The News published the phone number of HRW office in US and HRW UK cell number of Dayan which were available on HRW web and with staff of HRW international offices. The News has never published any personal or any Pakistan number of Dayan.
It is strange that if The News exposed that Ali Dayan is the only Pakistani who has appeared before the US House committee openly working to break Pakistan and to make ‘an independent Balochistan’, The News is trying to kill “Ali Dayan”. It is a strange logic and only readers can decide about the truth. Not only Dayan, some human rights activists and some senior journalists also made certain allegation against this scribe without discussing the points and objections raised in The News article.
Dayan attacked the Jang Group on frivolous allegations on his official page on social media. In his report, HRW and Dayan have praised the PPP government for media freedom in Pakistan. The News has criticised this conclusion on the basis of following seven points: 1- the PPP government announced boycott of media groups critical to its governance and exposing its corruption 2- PPP government launched personal attacks against critical journalists in press conferences 3- PPP workers attacked offices of media groups critical to government’s performance. 4- PPP government and its workers attacked hawkers and burnt copies & bundles of The News after some critical news items against top PPP leadership. 5- Taking revenge from media organizations exposing corruption of the government departments & top officials by stopping their government advertisements. 6- Taking revenge from independent media groups by pressuring private business groups to not to do business with such critical media groups. 7- Cases against journalists including myself.
The News has never mentioned that the government had banned any business of Jang Group, but Ali Dayan took only one point (Point-5), assumes it is about Jang Group has launched a vilification campaign on his official page “as a human rights worker and Pakistan Director of HRW”. The same was absurd.
In this Tuesday TV programme, Dayan, however, did not discuss HRW’s attack on Pakistan’s independent judiciary which through different suo moto notices on human rights violation cases, is providing justice to the poor people for the first time in country’s history. The News has given facts in its article regarding the Supreme Court fastest ever disposal of routine cases in country’s history.
After once again failing to reach Ali Dayan on his contact numbers, The News has sent the following questionnaire on Dayan’s official email and will publish his response without any change when it will be received. However, so far, neither Dayan is ready to take the call nor he has responded to the email.
The email reads: “Dear Ali, I hope you are fine. Refer to your interview on February 5, 2013 (Tuesday); You said that in its story in reply to HRW’s World Report-2013, The News wrote the following about you: 1) Ali Dayan is a traitor, 2) Ali Dayan should be booked under treason charges, 3) Contempt proceedings should be initiated against Ali Dayan, 4) Ali Dayan is a ‘Kaafir’, 5) They published my contact number.
We have re-checked our recent article (Lets See What HRW could not See in Pakistan—Published on February 02, 2013, in The News and Daily Jang) and some previous stories, and we found out that the first four allegations as levelled by you are incorrect and concocted as The News never wrote any such thing. The News never termed you a “Kaafir” or “Traitor”. No other fact/comment/analysis contained any such allegation against you by The News. Even none of the experts quoted in the newspaper ever termed you as “Kaafir”. As far as the allegation regarding “publishing your contact number” is concerned it was not published in the February 02, 2013, article (under discussion). In fact, The News had published your contact number when you had appeared before the US House committee hearing “Balkanisation of Pakistan” last year and when you were not coming into contact despite our repeated efforts to take your version.
It is requested that you may please reply to following questions as Pakistan Director of HRW:
1) Please inform us where The News wrote above the five points about you, listed above.
2) You repeatedly said that after HRW Report- 2013, “a campaign was run against you to kill you”. Please, elaborate where and by whom this campaign was run. We have published only one article on the subject and also published the complete HRW report along with it.
3) Why you hid the fact from the viewers that The News and daily Jang were the only newspapers in Pakistan which published the full text of your HRW World Report-2013 along with publishing a “News Analysis” which merely contained journalistic criticism on lacunas in HRW World Report-2013.
4) Please explain as to how this journalistic criticism on lacunas in HRW report (only one article) is a “campaign” and “a campaign to kill you”?
5) On your twitter account, where you introduce yourself as the “Pakistan Director of HRW”, you are repeatedly levelling allegations against me and Jang Group. You have even retweeted/spread some tweets alleging criminal activities. Don’t you think you are cooking up threats and trying to harass a journalist who criticized your work and also attacking a media group?
6) Don’t you think that spreading wrong information against journalists and attacking a media group is an attack on freedom of the press and freedom of expression? You are indulging in these attacks and hurling these threats by drumming up fabricated allegations against you which were never levelled by anyone. Does it suit a human rights worker to attack media independence in such a manner?
7) Please, provide us with the evidence of criminal charges you have made/propagated against me on your Twitter official/public page.
I will be really grateful for an early reply. We will formulate our response to your allegations in the light of your response. Best regards.