Journalists are biggest terrorists: Zardari
PESHAWAR: President Asif Zardari seems to be so unhappy with the media that he told a delegation of businessmen from the NWFP recently that journalists were the biggest terrorists in Pakistan.
Members of the delegation of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI), which met the president on January 15, quoted him as saying that journalists misreported things and presented the situation in a non-objective manner. They said the president felt the media should be careful in its handling of sensitive issues.
“Journalists are the biggest terrorists,” President Zardari is said to have remarked while talking about the issue of terrorism in NWFP and Fata. In his view the journalists were bigger terrorists than even the terrorists.
Requesting anonymity, some of the delegation members told The News that they were surprised by the Zardari’s remark as it was made out of context. They said no example of misreporting or distortion of facts by the media was given to justify the remark about journalists being terrorists.
“It came out of the blue. There was intensity of emotion when that statement was made,” a senior Peshawar businessman recalled. A PPP leader, who for obvious reasons wished not to be named, confirmed that the president did make the statement about journalists being terrorists.
A source, close to the Presidency, asserted that the president could not declare journalists as terrorists. He said the president holds journalists in great respect. He said Zardari had many journalist friends in the past and at present too he enjoyed good relations with mediamen. He insisted that many a time in his presence the president praised the journalist community.
There are reasons for President Zardari to be angry with the media and journalists. The president and the PPP-led federal government have come under growing criticism by most of the media due to their handling of the situation in the wake of Mumbai attacks. The decision to send the ISI head to India in response to the demand by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was roundly criticised by the media and had to be taken back. Even before that, sections of the media tended to blame President Zardari and the PPP for backing out of the promises and agreements made with Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N. The media has become increasingly critical of the government’s performance on account of the poor law and order situation, energy crisis and certain unmerited appointments in government departments, banks and the foreign ministry.
Led by the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Sharafat Ali Mubarak, the delegation had met President Zardari to request him to declare the militancy-hit NWFP as a war-affected zone and provide the province a special package of economic incentives for its doomed industries. The delegation also sought relief in provision of gas and electricity for the industrial estates in the Frontier in view of the dire state of affairs in the province.
The president offered to facilitate a visit by the Frontier businessmen to the US to lobby with government officials and other relevant people to argue their case, particularly with regard to the setting up of the proposed Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in NWFP. He also directed some of the federal ministers and advisers, including Rehman Malik and Shaukat Tareen, to listen to the grievances and proposals of the SCCI members and jointly prepare proposals for bailing out the industrial sector in NWFP.
A number of the delegation members said they were disappointed with the outcome of their meeting with President Zardari. They said the delegation expected the president and the federal government to help NWFP through special measures to cope with the unprecedented challenges of extremism and terrorism.
Source: The news