Perception of govt-army rift disappearing -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Perception of govt-army rift disappearing

Pakistan Press Foundation

Senior journalist and anchorperson Kamran Khan has said that the perception of a rift between the government and the Army is disappearing now and there is evidence that the government and the Army are on the same page on all the important issues.

Some television channels are attempting to settle scores by raising questions on the credibility of the Geo News.

Kamran Khan said that there is some pressure on the media, but one hopes that the media would have the sense to carry out reforms on its own. The feuds within the media have assumed alarming proportions.

The management of Geo and Jang says that angels have made its life miserable, and the transmission of Geo News is being suspended all over the country while the distribution of Jang, The News and other newspapers has been disallowed.

He was making his comments as host of Geo News programme ‘Aaj Kamran Khan Kay Sath’.

Kamran Khan said that since the beginning of this month, people were getting an impression that the relations between the government and the Army leadership had turned sore, but there is good news now that if the relations were sore at all then they are getting better now. There is a clear indication that the government and the Army leadership is not only on the same page but if there were any truth in the news about their cold relations, they are no more cold, and things are moving in the right direction.

Kamran Khan said that the rift between the government and the Army leadership emerged when some ministers expressed their views at the Parliament and before the media regarding Pervez Musharraf and they had also nullified the impression that the government would let Musharraf go abroad and this development reinforced the impression that differences between the political leadership and the Army leadership were widening.

Kamran Khan said whatever opinions the defence minister and the railways minister had been having on this issue, one thing was certain that the Army was backing Musharraf and his plea that if he wanted to go abroad, he should be allowed to go abroad. However, the federal ministers did not entertain the notion which led to the deterioration of relations, but then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took the initiative and held several meetings with the Army chief and the DG ISI, and things started to become normal.

Kamran Khan said that soon came another test. There was a strong reaction in the Army against the coverage of Geo News on the attack on Hamid Mir and the allegations against the ISI and its chief Lieutenant-General Zaheerul Islam. Now the government had to decide whether to stand with Geo or with the Army viewpoint, and the government decided that it would stand with the Army and the ISI. It was decided that whatever decision the Army or the ISI took in this regard, the government would fully endorse it. But the government also said that it would also inquire into the murderous attack on Hamid Mir, but it would not support Geo vis-à-vis its coverage about Gen Zaheerul Islam and the ISI. On this matter the government would stand with the national institutions.

Kamran Khan said that the ministry of defence sent an application to Pemra asking it to act against Geo for its coverage and to cancel its licence. In the meantime, Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar issued an important statement, saying that the way national institutions are being maligned under the garb of the attack on Hamid Mir and the way they are being accused without any evidence is a matter of extreme anguish. Chaudhry Nisar said in categorical terms that the government would stand with the Army and the ISI in this matter.

Kamran Khan said that the entire country has been condemning the attack on Hamid Mir, but the controversy over Geo News coverage has created a lot of problems, and it seems that Geo News does not enjoy wide support over this matter, and there are several examples to prove this point. However, the most critical thing is that the media in Pakistan has disintegrated into fragments and it is fighting against each other. The situation appears to be quite serious. Although it is not for the first time that there is friction among the media, yet the nature of the conflict is the worst ever. It is being discussed everywhere, within the country and outside it. He said that the international media is discussing the topic everyday. An important analysis has appeared in a US newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, saying that the attack on Hamid Mir widened the rift in the ranks of the Pakistani media, and the matter is now becoming the catalyst for cancellation of Geo News licence. Other media groups, instead of protecting Geo in general and the right to freedom of expression in particular are accusing Geo News of irresponsible journalism. Other television channels are raising questions about the credibility of Geo News and by doing so they are trying to settle scores.

Kamran Khan said that the outcome of the entire situation is that Geo and Jang are now finding it difficult to protect their survival. Geo News is at the moment not available in almost half of the country or it has been pushed so much down the peck that it is not possible to watch it. Moreover, distribution of Jang and The News is becoming a problem, and Geo and Jang management is holding ‘angels’ responsible for this.

Kamran Khan said that they have been informed unofficially that the military officials say that the ISI and the Army were ridiculed during the coverage after the murderous attack on Hamid Mir after which military personnel and their families and former military personnel and their families and the people living in the cantonment areas neither want to watch Geo nor do they want to read Jang or The News, and they have asked that they do not want the channel and the newspapers. This is a voluntary act through which the military people are staging a boycott.

Kamran Khan said that no official means have been used for this purpose, and that military families and those who have been offended by the coverage have the right to boycott Geo, Jang and The News.

Commenting on Pervez Musharraf case, Kamran Khan said that the case has taken a new turn. Farogh Nasim, who is Musharraf’s lawyer, has demanded that he should be given the report in which charges have been framed against Pervez Musharraf, in other words the investigation that the FIA had conducted and through which it was concluded how Pervez Musharraf enforced the emergency.

He said that it is also an important matter that Pervez Musharraf does not have access to the report as yet, though its contents have been made public in the media, and allegations were leveled against Musharraf, now part of the charges.

Kamran Khan said that since the expiry of ceasefire between the government and the Taliban, a few incidents of terrorism have taken place. However, it cannot be said that the Taliban are behind those attacks because the Taliban have not accepted responsibility for the major attacks.

Kamran Khan said that Karachi is once again in the grip of terrorism. A blast took place on the second consecutive day in which five people died. It was said to be an incident of sectarian nature in which a bus coming from Yasrib Imambargah was to be the target. The bus escaped the attempt. Five innocent people died and many others sustained injuries.

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