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PAKISTAN’S FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE: THE MEDIA?!

Major General Asif Ghafoor, the influential Director General of Pakistan military’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and the master of Pakistan’s global Perception Management operations, has committed a major faux pas by announcing that Pak’s not too cooperative media is its first line of defense. A clear case of verbal diarrhea in Pakistan’s moribund military regime!

Is the Military’s Control of Domestic Media preparation for another Coup?

          Recently, Pakistan has been in global news for all the wrong reasons. Apart from their devious role in the War on Terror, Pakistan continues to be found shamefully culpable for fiddling with the Afghan peace process, exporting terror to China, India, and Iran as well as the brutal suppression of peaceful insurgent movements in Baloch, Sindh, and Gilgit- Baltistan.

          The military’s handling of state affairs through a planted civilian political front has resulted in escalating scale of disasters for Pakistan. Be it the declining economy, CPEC debt trap, increasing global diplomatic mistrust, increased military spending irrespective of economic capability, and a ticking time-bomb of domestic unrest, Pakistan continues to nose dive to the ultimate status of a failed rogue state.

          As usual, Pakistan’s military and its mouthpiece with a bite, the ISPR has taken the opportunistic route to showcase a disguised reality by gagging and controlling the domestic media. Pakistan’s media, for all their failings, was always considered to have a high standard of journalism and for responsible reporting. At times, they have even admitted to the wrong policies being pursued by Islamabad and the de facto capital Rawalpindi, with respect to Kashmir and long-suffering Afghanistan. However, recently Pakistan’s military-backed Deep State has been seen to be using strong-arm tactics like kidnappings, beatings, unlawful detention and in some cases, gangland style murders to gag the media and control it. Today, any media person or activist who speaks up against China’s schemes in Pakistan including the CPEC or against Pakistan’s military initiated government policies is subject to harassment by state actors in an eerie replay of the Khashogi episode. Rawalpindi has even bowed down low enough to use radicalized Islamic groups to carry out their dirty work. There have already been outcries over the well documented clumsy attempts by the military to browbeat so-called anti-Pakistan media activists, including globally renowned media personalities like Gul Bhukhari, Taha Siddiqui, and Hussein Haqqani.

          Worryingly, the last time Pakistan’s military tried to control the media was during General Musharraf’s coup d’etat against the Nawaz Sharif government in 1999. The theme and the method are more or less the same. But the military has come up against a new roadblock to their ambitions…The Internet. The disillusioned media of Pakistan has taken to the Internet in the form of Social Media and international editions to prevent a replay of Musharraf’s era. The ISPR and the Deep State in Pakistan are now trying to rein in or discredit this threat to their existence and to offset the likelihood of exposing and embarrassing Pakistan’s official falsehood. And they are doing it with all the power that a State can throw at the last bastion of reason, the Pakistani Fourth Estate!

The Tango with Pak Media

          Between the awful state of the muddling economy, the gimmicks of Naya Pakistan and the slow slide of Pakistan into a financial province of China, Pakistan’s military now needs to rewrite the global narrative describing Pakistan as a failed state. After being caught with their pants down often, the establishment has not been too successful in controlling their media reporting embarrassing truths. At this juncture, Major General Ghafoor’s proclamation that Pakistan’s media is the first line of defense against Hybrid Warfare makes sense. One of the tenets of Hybrid Warfare is seamless and borderless war using all assets available including propaganda and information warfare. The national media is one of the pillars for sustaining hybrid warfare. But please note! Major General Ghafoor had to announce this from the State-owned PTV… Seems like the writing on the wall is clear to the other media houses – ‘Its Pakistan Military’s way or the highway! God damn the truth!”

 

28 Nov 18/Wednesday                                               Written by Fahd Khan

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