President divides media between friends and foes
ISLAMABAD: The impression that President Asif Ali Zardari treated the Jang Group’s objective criticism of the PPP government as a personal affront was further strengthened on Monday when he flatly turned down the APNS president’s offer for the government and APNS to form a joint committee to address the issue of the perceived government persecution of one particular media group.
Though President APNS, Hameed Haroon, did not specifically name the Jang Group but he left no doubt about the identity of the group. After dilating forcefully on the issue of the government targeting the media group and at the same time creating some maneuvering room for the government by suggesting that maybe the group too had been overtly aggressive, he said that he was willing to personally play the role of a mediator and wanted the formation of a joint government and APNS committee to break the deadlock which in his opinion was adversely affecting the country.
In response, the president also eschewed naming the Jang Group but he too made no bones about the target of his obvious ire. After hurling some rather unsavoury innuendoes he then sidetracked the specifically identified issue by generalizing the subject and instead talked about the need of having a mechanism that would “address issues with all such media groups” and not one particular entity alone.
In another surprising comment, he also blasted the current rating system of the industry probably unaware of the fact that these ratings standards are approved and acknowledged by all leading advertising agencies and clients. His choice of words tacitly implying that the media rating industry was being manipulated by his Â‘favourite’ unnamed media group, the president wanted APNS to establish an independent organization to deal with this issue. How the presidency views the media was aptly summed up by one comment when he said that it isn’t that often that “I get to talk to so many friends and foes” at the same time.
The president would be well advised to appreciate that those who portray reality in national interest may not necessarily be the foes of the government and the sycophants who chant the mantra of all-is-well are anything but a real friend.