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Nadia Rafiq Butt.
Pakistan like many other countries is striving to get a positive image for one reason or the other. One can spell out a number of reasons. On top is sectarianism and extremism which has become plague for our society. Then is the law and order situation, frequency of murders and thefts and all such crimes. However, this doesn’t suggest that things are not under control. There are good people and good things to report. It must be admitted that human societies have their limitations. Freedom, justice and equality are only ideals. Total justice and peace is not humanly possible. Instead of looking at it in a negative way, one should look at those negatives with a glass half-full approach, and one should realize that spreading positivity instead of deprivation and scarcity would serve the cause better as we all hold responsibility being nationals to our homeland. Man will only remain on the right track if a mental discipline is shaped by education and if there is a fear of law, justice and punishment, in short dispense of justice without fear or favor. If a society enjoys justice and fair play it will surely portray soft image.
If our social, economic and administrative systems work reasonably and efficiently no harm can come to Pakistan. If all get justice and feel secure no one will think of any criminal activities. Every citizen must have confidence in its justice system. There can be no peace without justice and no civilized society without education. In the absence of justice and literacy no one can vision of credibility of sound reputation of the country.
Apparently Pakistan’s softer image is being portrayed by book releases, rock concerts and exhibitions nationally either internationally. Somehow we misunderstood the reality that the solution lies to the problems of country. We can somehow fix this problem by altering our international image of being naïve along with gratified and full of pride of our own culture and traditions. We have to come out of copying and competing others thereafter. If we can value our own culture and traditions showcasing higher values and norms with self-dignity only then we can gently put others on the track of respecting our culture and traditions in reciprocation. 
Pakistan is making all sorts of efforts to tackle deadly hazard of terrorism not only for its own good but for the whole world. Terrorism could only be defeated through dialogue, as it was the only way to eliminate terrorism where the outcome of using power would produce no positive results but would aggravate the situation. Unfortunately the western world is not giving Pakistan its due credit. It keeps on highlighting only those things through which the image of the country can be damaged and their national interests get served. More fuel is been added by next-door enemy India whose psychological warfare has always put serious harm to our country both nationally and internationally. But would it serve sensible if we keep waiting for due credit. Putting aside unhygienic debate of our war or others war enforced on our country and steered by our forces, political leaders should get our unparalleled sacrifices and unshaken resolve acknowledged by international world regardless of opposition’s propaganda which has been going since years and will keep going. 
Pakistan’s soft image can be portrayed through three resources i.e. culture economy and media. Pakistan is not being able to attract the western world through its historical and cultural heritage. Pakistan has great heritage from North to South. Tourism can bring a big change and can play a pivotal role. Cultural events, exchange programs, broadcasting or teaching country’s language and promoting country’s culture and society can be used as soft tools. Basant and Valentine’s Day celebrations will not help. We are in dire need of culture of tolerance in Pakistan but anything against the true spirit of Islam needs to be discouraged. Pakistan must think to start exchange programs between students. Teachers must be welcome from abroad to teach their language to young students in Pakistan and vice versa. Science and technology must be given high preferences. Helping other countries in disasters and emergency situations can prove our soft side instead of highlighting and pretending miseries in the greed of getting aid from international world. Government should stay alive to the issues of backwardness, unemployment and economic deprivation in the country and keep striving to address these through judicious distribution of resources.
People buy brands not products, this is an age old fact acknowledged by the researchers of the world. We need to develop our brand reputed Pakistan. Almost every other country is associated with its national characteristics. Italy is associated with style, Japan with technology, India with history and culture, so our efforts with branding must be guided to find our economic role. Here comes the question how we can package our self. The media particularly electronic media can play a major role. We need to have more of English news channels to have more international audience. Media has hyped bad news and have made it look like a demon.This does not mean that nothing good has happened or is happening. The only prevailing fact that bad news is more newsworthy than good news. Media has played a huge part in this feeling of desperation by mainly reporting bad news and harping on it. Calling the same idiots for discussions on prime time every day is hardly a way of finding solutions tour myriad problems. Media seems to be shunning every positive news because it is not sexy and gets no TRPs or advertising.We all know that publicity is what a company or individual receives when something prominent happens and when the notable event is good, the publicity usually attracts new client and gives the company something to brag about in future.We as a nation have to say that yes we are going through bad times and all of us in some way or other are contributors to this. Let’s all now resolve to get out of this rut by doing sincerely and honestly what our individual jobs are before we point fingers at others. We need to be more focused and targeted as generic strategies “Be Pakistani, buy Pakistani” “East or West, Pakistan is the best” will not work anymore. 

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Shell shock and combat fatigue are medical conditions common during violent conflict.  Anyone going through the horrifying experience of being fired upon and have six bullets lodged in his body (two of them still there) would be in a state of trauma.  Before slipping into unconsciousness at the hospital Hamid Mir made some startling allegations.    Public posturing aside, he has subsequently not named anyone in the First Information Report (FIR) lodged with Karachi police, a very significant omission probably made with sound legal advice in the cold light of day. 

The unfortunate knee-jerk media reaction set in motion a regrettable chain of events that is eroding the sanctity of responsible and ethical standards in the media, and may ultimately affect its freedom.  Flashing the accusation for hours on the media goes beyond rushing to judgment, it influences public perception and therefore becomes character assassination of the worst kind! Even at the best of times the ISI and the Armed Force are constantly subjected to vicious propaganda by inimical external interests meant to undermine their effectiveness as the prime defender of our country’s frontiers.  Coming from a national institution like Geo which servicemen across the board used to look upto, did anyone expect that these shocking but baseless accusations on primetime TV would be taken lying down without any reaction? 

The polarization in the media because of this affair is most unfortunate, instead of upholding the dignity of their profession by indulging in informed debate the members of the “Fourth Estate” are engaged in mudslinging of the worst kind.  The facts of the failed assassination attempt being investigated by a judicial commission and thus sub-judice are not up for speculation, one can only comment that the botched attempt was despicable.   As it stands today the attempt and instigation thereof could be out of motivated interest because of any number of reasons.   Given that it was common knowledge that Hamid Mir had already made some allegations prior to the assassination attempt, anyone could have been trying to knock him off and blame the ISI in the process, two birds with one stone!


One may or may not agree with Hamid Mir, the media is right in defending his right to put forward the facts and express his views as he thinks fit.  The compelling caveat is that it is also incumbent upon a responsible media to correct the facts if they are found to be wrong, recurring denial and cover-up lends credence to conspiracy theories.  If his views are anti-govt, or even worse anti-state, Hamid Mir will answer for it if he is wrong.  The media should faithfully record the feelings of the intelligentsia and the masses, not sit in judgment themselves.


The forensics of voice recognition is now very advanced, in bio-metrics besides eye scans it is the most credible factor.  A few years ago an accusation was made on the basis of a voice recording between Hamid Mir and a Punjabi Taliban associate of late TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsud that he was complicit in the horrible murder of Sqn Leader Khawaja by the TTP.  Khalid Khawaja’s family members attempted to lodge an FIR against Hamid Mir and he has never really satisfactorily explained this incident.  Given that the voice recording was probably made by the ISI, the reason for smoldering resentment against the agency?   While one did not agree with Hamid Mir protecting the identity of the terrorist he was talking to, most of us gave him the benefit of the doubt.  The (than) CJ of Supreme Court in 2010 was running riot on suo moto issues, some of no consequence whatsoever (consider the liquor bottles allegedly found in Atiqa Odho’s luggage at Islamabad Airport), one reasoned that given tangible evidence Hamid Mir would have been “suo moto-ed” by the superior judiciary. Unfortunately the (than) CJ was carefully running his own  agenda on selective issues to remain “politically” bright for the future, that included being on the right side of those influential in the media.

A personal aside, Col Amir Tarar (codenamed Col Imam) being brutally executed by Hakimullah Mehsud was also shown in YouTube. That was the consequence of the inference made against Khalid Khawaja that he was working for the CIA.   Amir Tarar and myself were good friends as young subalterns in Lahore Garrison from 1966 to 1968, not only horrifying this video was also personally mortifying.  

The media itself is divided between the “liberals” and the “conservatives”, both are fully entitled to their point of view.    The public at large is becoming more and more incensed at what has happened. Running strongly in favor of the Armed Forces, public opinion does not take kindly to attacks against the khakis. The unfortunate problem is that vested elements jealous of Geo Group’s success are exploiting this to their full advantage to isolate Geo.  This is a no-win situation in which Geo Group need not have been and from which it needs to extricate itself, not get further mired in the quicksand.

It is unbelievable that the Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid was being too clever for his own good in implying that the govt was aligned with Hamid Mir and Geo TV against the Armed Forces!   A Freudian slip on the part of a loose cannon or a deliberate statement of intent by the Nawaz Sharif govt? The unfortunate home truth is that the politicians have learnt no lessons from 1999, the PML (N) can barely conceal their venom and penchant for retribution against the army.    The general perception in the Armed Forces (and increasingly among the public) is that the present govt is playing a double game, professing admiration for the uniform publicly but snide remarks made by the PM’s close aides makes it apparent they are hellbent on cutting the khakis to size and humiliating them. The ultimate incongruity is that people like Parvez Rasheed take them to be stupid.

The freedom of the media being a must for sustaining democracy, the media must not use its freedom as a licence to tar and feather the Army. One will have to accept in the ultimate analysis that without the sacrifices that the Armed Forces have given, and are still doing so on a daily basis, the freedom that the media enjoys today would be lost, as would be the country.  Close your eyes for one moment and imagine “media freedom” under a Taliban-run country!

Without citizen participation at the grassroots level, we remain an incomplete democracy facing multiple crises.  This country needs democracy but it cannot be at the cost of the existence of the country. If push comes to shove, the politicians (and the media) will spend another few years in the cold, 18th Amendment notwithstanding.  This country has many problems, too many to be counted here.   And for those counting on world opinion, please do look at Egypt again!

The need today is for all of us to remain within the parameters of good common sense and not cross fail-safe lines. We must together target solving the problems, not create inconsequential ones that detract from the national agenda.  

We must unite, not fight.


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