Pakistan braces itself for media onslaught on OBL's killing -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pakistan braces itself for media onslaught on OBL’s killing

Bassam Javed

Consequent to US-Nato’s blatant attacks on Pakistan Army’s military check-post at Salala that killed twenty-four of its finest soldiers, the western media lately appeared to have reduced its throttle on anti-Pakistan propaganda. The easing out of the malicious campaign is not out of any guilt on Salala massacre or love to Pakistan but more so on the directions of state department that is under pressure on re-opening of the vital Pakistani supply lines to Afghanistan. This temporary break may have been to influence Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee on National Security’s recommendations on going soft on US interests. Work on both of these processes is near completion and initial signals from the US on PCNS’s recommendations suggest that the latter may not agree to all of them. Does it mean that US and western media will again be moved by their respective agencies to re-launch its assault on Pakistan soon? The first opportunity coming their way will be on 2nd of May, the day when OBL was eliminated.

Killing of OBL was celebrated in the west where people partied all the night on the occasion. But that incident created mayhem for Pakistan wherein it was castigated and loathed with all kinds of accusations and linkages. That was probably the most trying period for Pakistan. Leon Panetta, the then CIA Chief, had sarcastically belittled Pakistan and its security establishment. The time leading up to 2nd May, OBL death anniversary (for its celebration in the west), will be used to malign Pakistan Army and the ISI once again in connection with OBL raid.

Open media has already revealed that foreign news agencies’ representatives have either reached Pakistan- Abbottabad or are homing on to these places to give the event a wide coverage. These agencies have made elaborate arrangements to cover the US operations in a big way. Sources that are privy to these developments have also confirmed allocation of huge funds especially by influential global news agencies to effectively cover the occasion. The foreign correspondents are expected to air live interviews of the people that lived in the surroundings of OBL compound, These agencies have also coordinated with local media personnel for help if they find themselves stranded for some reason in coverage of the event. The main theme of the whole exercise would’ be to project Pakistan as a safe haven for al-Qaeda/insurgents.

One of the foreign news agencies has already interviewed local Pashtun journalists for the purpose. A British based influential newspaper is reported to have been working on a theme to project that Pakistan security establishment is supporting PDC (Pakistan Defence Council). Similarly Wall Street Journal reporters are active on a story that would depict linkages of Hizbul Tehrir with Pakistan Army’s junior officers projecting that they may revolt against the senior military hierarchy for conspiring with US in killing of OBL.

Every sane person around the globe realizes the sufferings that Pakistan had to bear in international war on terror. The extremists that exited Afghanistan when the US-Nato forces arrived there found a new abode in South Waziristan. When the Pakistan Army carried out military action in SWA, these very terrorists fanned out all over Pakistan where they conducted terror attacks against military and civil infrastructure. In the process, Pakistan suffered over 5000 security and over 36OOO civil casualties. Yet Pakistan continues to face the wrath of the international media campaign of undermining its security establishment through engineered links with terror outfits.

The media puts aside the invaluable contribution that Pakistan’s prime intelligence service made in joint operations with the CIA to nab most wanted terrorists. Pakistan’s intelligence agency probably is the only agency operators of which rendered unmatched sacrifices in GWOT and lost more than 200 of its operatives in field operations. The ISI helped CIA in arresting major aI-Qaeda linked terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Ramzi Bin-al Shibh, Abu Zubadeh, Abu Faraj AI-Libbi, Younis AI-Mauritani etc. It was again the ISI that provided initial information on Abu Ahmad AI-Kuwaiti, the courier that transited from his compound elsewhere to Peshawar and Afghanistan. Pakistan thenceforth was ditched on the development on Kuwaiti’s trace thereby signalling the US duplicity on its operations to nab Osama. His electronic monitoring ultimately led the CIA kill OBL.

Panetta’s comments thereafter that someone in Pakistan knew the whereabouts of OBL led lnternationa1 media to malign Pakistan wherein all sorts of accusations were made on the army and the ISI. Nobody in the international media pointed out that US unilateral action within the territory of Pakistan was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and against international norms.

Pakistan suffered tremendously for its economic meltdown as terror activities in the country took the focus away of our leadership from economic progress to confronting the terror and extremism. Pakistan has suffered economically in excess of $70 billion in GWOT to-date and continues to struggle to revamp it. The 9/11 terror attack in New York sequentially transformed socio-economic fabric of Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy had come to a near halt in 2009 at around 2% not only due to global financial crises but also for military action in Fata against the terrorists. Pakistan’s economy still suffers $6 billion export losses annually. As per the Beacon House National University’s estimates, the cost of war on terror far exceeds the assistance of $1.7 billion provided by international agencies annually. The cost of war has nearly reached a trillion figure tremendously burdening the country’s socio-economic fabric.

In the coming days US and its allies are to firm up a strategy that enable them exit Afghanistan honourably. That may not be possible without Pakistan’s support. Criticality of the exit strategy demands bridging differences with Pakistan for the purpose rather than continuing malicious propaganda against the country, its armed forces and the ISI. Such designs tantamount to widening of existing differences further rather than bridging them.

Obnoxious propaganda campaigns through exploitation of various occasions in the decade old war on terror will in no way make the environment conducive for future cooperation between the US and Pakistan on vital fronts. Assaulting Pakistan in the international and local media to rekindle the bitter episodes, as indicative through homing on Pakistan-Abbottabad by foreign and local journalists for coverage of one year’s completion of OBL’s death, will not only vitiate the spiralled down relationship between the two countries but also hurt American interests in the region.

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