This issue must end now
ISLAMABAD: A six-word tweet — “Pemra action: ISI ruling, Govt retreating!” — by one Dr Nadia Khan on Friday said it all.
Geo’s suspension for 15 days and Rs10 million fine by the government-backed Pemra is an extreme step that the civilian leadership has been compelled to take after the military establishment was not ready for anything less than the closure of the Geo Network.
Rightly or wrongly, the rank and file of the Pakistan Army were badly hurt by the controversial April 19 telecast of Geo and more so by the consequent stoking of the fire by the anti-Jang Group vultures in the media. The Geo’s apology did not work which has now taken all of us to the present suspension of the Geo News for 15 days by Pemra.
The matter must end now. We all now need to move forward for the sake of Pakistan, its institutions and the rule of law. If Geo did something wrong on April 19, the subsequent days and weeks witnessed the repeated wrongs and flexing of muscles by the other side. If the DG ISI was unfairly treated by Geo on April 19, the whole world knows that all channels of Geo network were also illegally blocked, copies of Jang and The News were set on fire, Jang-Geo’s properties were destroyed, its employees were beaten and harassed.
To this day, I could not understand how the coverage relating to DG ISI became an attack on Pakistan Army but the reality is it was made to look like so. We the media people could not think of fighting against any of our institutions, what to talk of the Pakistan Army, which is already faced with serious challenges, including the Musharraf-gifted terrorism. But still it was made a Geo-Pak Army/ISI fight.
The ISI is undoubtedly our first line of defence and is critically important for the national security of the country. We the media will defend and protect our freedom but cannot think of doing anything aimed at demolishing any of our state institutions, including the army and the ISI. However, mistakes and wrong editorial judgments should not be taken as conspiracies unless proven. The media does make mistakes and so do other institutions, including the Pakistan Army and the ISI. If Geo wrongly handled the post-Hamid Mir attack situation, there are too serious and too many blunders that were made by our defence institutions in the past. If the media crosses the limits or the red lines, it should be proceeded against as per the law of the land. But being a watchdog of the society, it is the prime responsibility of the media to highlight the wrongs of the state institutions, governments, rulers and the mighty ones to safeguard the interest of the people and to uphold the rule of law and constitutionalism.
Geo had made a public apology and has now even been penalised for its mistake. Whether we like it or not, Pemra, despite being a controversial and toothless body, has given a judgment against Geo, which has the right to challenge it in the court of law but Pemra’s decision should be implemented in letter and spirit.
The other side, particularly the ISI, also needs to review its grey areas like the controversial role that it had played during the recent weeks. We love our ISI for what it does for the security and defence of Pakistan, including its double games against the enemy states.
However, the ISI is badly required to make corrections for those wrongs which make it controversial at home and in the eyes of its own people. The ISI needs to learn that it should never use its muscles against its own people, institutions and governments. Like any other institution, the ISI should also ensure that all its officials do not go or act beyond legal and constitutional limits. The Geo-ISI/army tiff must end now because furthering it would destroy and damage all of us.