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Posts Tagged Aman Ki Asha

Shaheen Sehbai reveals it all – The Express Tribune, Pakistan

Shaheen Sehbai reveals it all

By Monitoring Desk

Published: May 1, 2016

Shaheen Sehbai. PHOTO: FILE

Senior journalist Shaheen Sehbai has revealed that he was not shown the report in which the newspaper purported that the International Council for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) mistakenly included Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s name in the Panama Papers before it was filed.

Speaking to a panel comprising Express-News anchors Imran Khan and Gharida Farooqi, and Daily Express Group Editor Ayaz Khan after resigning as the group editor of The News on Saturday, Sehbai said his reports at The News were radically changed without his permission.

According to Sehbai, the CEO and group editor-in-chief of the Jang Group, Mir Shakeelur Rehman, was waging a battle for ‘civilian ascendancy’. He said Jang Group’s ‘Aman Ki Asha’ initiative was considered a bad move among military circles, but “we insisted
that all this was done with full knowledge of the military leadership”.

“We were ashamed of certain decisions taken by my organization and I now realize that the Jang Group promoted its own perception and angled all news according to its own need,” Sehbai said. He added that the Jang Group was facing a lot of issues for a very long time.

 

 

Shaheen Sehbai. PHOTO: FILE

 

 

 

 

Sehbai said the most recent difference between him and the Jang Group cropped up when the latter ran a story claiming that ICIJ had included Premier Nawaz’s name in the Panama Papers by mistake. “My objection on this issue was that I was neither consulted nor shown the report before publishing it,” the veteran journalist said.

“I was not told about this report at all. Such moves usually took place after midnight and usually orders from the top were accompanied by ‘suggestions’ about which news was to be accommodated wherein the newspaper,” he added.

The news report in question, according to Sehbai, was just a ‘one-liner’ correction which was followed by a letter from Daniyal Aziz and was arranged in the shape of a news report.

Things were micromanaged at his previous organization, he said, adding that orders from the top usually not only included ‘hints’ at the placement of even single-column news items but also which report was to be radically edited too.

“When editors reviewed the newspaper in the morning, they realized just how much of their news reports made it in the paper and how much they were edited out.”

Sehbai said that while Mir Shakeel claimed he was waging a battle for civilian ascendancy, “I was ashamed of the way my previous employer came out in defense of the current government.”

“Owners of the Jang Group have a clear-cut view on what sort of news reports and editorials are to appear in their newspaper. They view everything in accordance with their own perspective and print newspaper in line with their own viewpoint every day. Everything is determined by the group’s owners,” he said.

“Over the past two years, I had been facing a number of issues with the group owners. When the incident involving Hamid Mir occurred, I was with Mir Shakeelur Rehman in Dubai and I advised him not to adopt such an aggressive posture, but he said that a clash between the military and civilians is bound to happen and that I should not interfere,” Sehbai said.

“And everyone witnessed whatever happened afterward. My differences on policy matters began from that time, I kept telling him not to pursue the course of action he had chosen. The mind of Mir Shakeelur Rehman may contain a host of disparate agendas, but he had some views of his own too,” he added.

“When I joined Jang Group, talks were going on for the ‘Aman Ki Asha’ project and some people from the Times of India visited us. At that time, I explicitly told them that I would not join this effort,” the veteran journalist said.

According to Sehbai, the restriction on Geo transmission during the Musharraf regime and Hamid Mir’s attack haunted Mir Shakeelur Rehman’s mind.

“When the attack on Hamid Mir happened, he (Mir Shakeel) told me that he believed that his group was destined to control military supremacy and establish civilian ascendancy. Right after the Hamid Mir incident, I tried my best to normalize the situation,” he said.

“I even apologized on behalf of my employer, but I believe we were not entirely forgiven. During this period, other issues kept cropping up and lastly, the disclosures contained in the Panama Papers hit the media. We should have maintained a balanced approach in handling this issue, but the way my group emerged, defending the government, I was utterly embarrassed.”

“I am in Washington, facing a lot of criticism. So many people have approached me, asking what is happening with my newsgroup? I gave them their phone numbers and told them to ask the owners themselves. I have no idea what the media group is reaping or hopes to reap in return for supporting the government, except, of course, government advertisements,” he added.

Sehbai said ads in Jang Group publications completely dried up after the Hamid Mir incident and the subsequent standoff between the group and the military. “At that time, the current government had supported the group. They even tried to calm the military and told them not to entirely kill the group economically. They should have considered the truce negotiated by the government as a boon,” he said.

“I don’t know if there is a connection between the ban on the Pakistani movie ‘Maalik’ and Indian movie ‘Fan’. I have no idea. But I know this much that one film is supported by one group while the other has been released by another.”

Regarding ‘Aman ki Asha’, Sehbai said the project which began with much fanfare died off completely when the group hit bad times. “Mir Shakeelur Rehman and the Jang Group earnestly want to establish good relations with India and its film industry. They also want to establish their network in India. They want their channel to be freely viewed in India. However, their wish is yet to be realized,” he said.

“The group has so far avoided a direct civilian-military clash, but editorials and the display of news reports reflect such a situation. If there is a debate on the civilian-military relationship, the group would always advocate civilian ascendancy, even when civilian leadership is in the wrong,” he added.

“I had reduced writing reports in view of the group’s policies, and most of the times I felt that my write-ups were not welcome or I was told to incorporate a certain point of view,” Sehbai said.

“Over the past few years, I stayed away from appearing on Geo TV and they also did not call me for my views, but I was invited on other channels where I gave my views,” he added.

Regarding the impact of his move, Sehbai said: “Nothing will happen after my resignation. It will not result in any revolution. I have no illusions. My resignation would not force people out on the streets. Nothing like this will ever happen. I was contacted by a lot of my colleagues, asking me to tell them what to do. I have told all of my colleagues to continue to work if allowed to do so with complete editorial independence, if not they should decide for themselves. I believe a journalist should basically uphold the truth at all cost. “

In his resignation letter submitted earlier, Sehbai complained that the Jang Group was “unnecessarily engaged in a dangerous conflict with national institutions”.

“I feel that I can no longer sustain the moral and ethical pressure as group editor [of the News], justifying decisions which were not taken by me but which have caused immense damage to the credibility and financial stability of the newspaper,” wrote Sehbai.

“I find the policies of the newspaper lop-sided, heavily tilted politically and unnecessarily engaged in a dangerous conflict with national institutions, especially at a time when the country is at war with terrorists, their supporters and financiers, and the corrupt elements in all spheres of society who are using money looted through corruption to fight the state,” he stated in the letter.

“I may also add that in formulating and implementing these self-defeating policies, the views and suggestions of professional editors at all levels, including myself, have been consistently ignored,” the senior journalist added.

Referring to Mir Shakeelur Rehman, Sehbai wrote: “As editor-in-chief, it is your right to run the newspaper as you like, but for professional journalists, there is always a limit to which they can go along. I know many editors feel the same way, but I have decided to call it a day today.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2016.

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HOW I MISS MY DREAM WORLD?

                                    

HOW I MISS MY DREAM WORLD?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was only three when I came to Pakistan from India in the company of my late parents in 1947 . My parents and other elders of the family had mixed memories in retrospect some very sweet .But others were very bitter scenes of Partition . My forefathers enjoyed a good and settled life in India.

However , Pakistan became the only home I have known in my life . I have never looked back . My family and I found love here : within the family , in our friends’ homes , in schools , colleges or universities , in hospitals . Nor do I feel any desire to visit India unlike those who write about their visits in ‘’Aman Ki Asha’ to each others’ countries though I read every bit about ‘Aman Ki Asha ‘ . Through the course of my life I have travelled and seen many countries both in the east and the west , Pakistan remains my cherished land . Pakistan always remains in my prayers . I wish the best for it . My family , both immediate and extended , and my friends , will bear my out that I wish that the country must remain a peaceful and a prosperous one .My parents taught me the dignity of honest hard work and achievements through it. However , like others less fortunate , my children and I faced discrimination for most of our lives .

Had the Muslims not struggled under the indomitable determination of Mr. Jinnah , they would have always been in minority in India on the basis of one man one vote . However , after achieving Independence , that great expectations have evaporated whether the form of government was secular , religious , parliamentary or presidential or military . The ride has not been very smooth .

Immediately after partition , Pakistan lost two important leaders viz. Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan . Had they lived , the mission for which they struggled would have been placed on even keel.

After of the death of Mr.Jinnah , a controversy started whether he wanted a secular Pakistan which still continues . While most governments in Pakistan and its machinery are inclined towards secularism , an overwhelming majority has a Muslim bent of mind . The liberals quoted his speech made on August 11 , 1947 , three days before the country’s independence , to support their contention . Mr. Jinnah , towards the end of his speech said

“ You are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques “

Over the years , the many religious parties or groups , big or small , have muddied the waters. .While a couple of them managed to win some seats in each elections , they have never succeeded to form governments independently . However , their antics annoyed much of the educated middle classes . The youth is thoroughly disenchanted and allergic to them. As a reaction to them , they veered to the opposite direction , the girls wearing jeans and tops and the boys wearing bracelets and strange hair dos . In the absence of an example , they are directionless . In one instance , a young girl disembarked from a chauffeur driven elegant car in a Rawalpindi Cantonment market wearing a dress of see through material .My family and I were shopping there . I remembered Maulana Azad’s prophesy that the youth will turn against Islam particularly in the environment of less ‘dos’ and more ‘donts’. The youth do not have an example for them to follow . Dr. Israr Ahmed , Dr. Zakir Naik and some others are good . The people trust their knowledge and their wisdom .But their circles are limited . Only Dr. Zakir Naik has his own TV Channel .

Each group ,who claim to work for the spreading Islam , live in the own cast iron shell . Some of the members sell their soul to the devil very cheaply in exchange of small gifts of this world . At least five times a day , we ask Allah to show the right path . However , the moment we leave he mosque or our houses , we step into another realm , the realm of Satan , the realm of evil where there is business as usual . If prayers (Salaat ) provides guidance to reform oneself and become a good human being , why are we all going in the opposite direction . Allah’s Commandments cannot be wrong . We must know ourselves: analyse ourselves . Let us admit that we stink . We are morally bankrupt . I am also confused . I am only a commoner.

A delegation from the Export Development of Canada and I were to meet the Joint Secretary (Law) , Mr. Bashir Jehangiri ( before he was elevated to the Bench) at 1 PM . When we arrived at his room , we were told that he was preoccupied with the Law Secretary . We waited for one hour . Meanwhile the call to prayer had been answered by the faithful . Since this was October , the congregation had been arranged in the lawns outside the Pakistan Secretariat . One of the members of the raised a pertinent question pointing towards the two prayer congregations standing very close to each other . I lowered my head in great shame . I said only one word in reply :EGO”. If Allah is one , the Holy Quran is one and the Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) is one , there is no reason why Islam should not be one and why the prayer congregation should not be one . Beats logic .

Are Muslims belonging to India , North or South America , South Africa or Tibet inferior to the Muslims of Pakistan . Before partition of the Sub Continent , in the 1920s , 1930s and 1940s , the slogan was Hindi- Muslim bhai bhai . However , after the emergence of Pakistan and within our boundaries , we cant get along with others who might have a different opinion viz. East Pakistan . Why and when did we become opinionated ? Within our immediate families , the father or the mother or real brothers or sisters do not talk to each other . Is it “ Allah Ka Azab “ for our meanness ? Things have become so odious that we were not able to build the Kalabagh Dam and other dams despite our fears of water scarcity in the future years .

A country with high hopes is lagging behind in virtually field in the comity of nations despite being Muslim and which has the Holy Quran to show the right and despite having courageous soldiers and hard working men and women. This is a food for thought for each one of us .

A labourer , who works in a house nearby and who visits my house frequently at night to fetch water for drinking , does not wear warm clothes in this harsh Islamabad weather . On my asking him , he told me that he did not have warm clothes . Allah forbids ,If he falls ill , he might not have money for his treatment .

We never tire from quoting the example of the great Caliph Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) who said that he fears Allah’s wrath if a dog goes hungry on the banks of the River Euphrates . What about this man , this poor labourer , and thousands of others like him who go to bed hungry . According to one estimate , 60% people in Pakistan live below the poverty line . Many families have been compelled to commit suicide because they have no means to feed their children .

Islam is an universal religion . It cannot be confined within the narrow state boundaries . One can live a decent life anywhere in the world without trespassing the limits ordained by Allah , if He Wills. Unfortunately most of us have missed the essence of our deen . Islam teaches discipline .Our Prayers , our Fasts and our Haj all teaches discipline . I liked the pictures of people waiting to board a ferry in New Zealand and the street scenes of Dublin .

Allah’s angels were enough for His Commandments to be fulfilled . But He made man superior to the angels and bestowed upon him the ability to distinguish between virtue and evil so that he should strive to promote virtue and to make every effort to eliminate evil within his sphere of influence .

“ We must learn to live together as brothers or we are going to perish as fools” . Dr. Martin Luther King .

Mahfooz ur Rahman

Islamabad

December 17 , 2013         

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Need to guide the media by Brig.(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan Think Tank Supports

Accuracy, Truth,Responsibility 

in 

Pakistan Media

But,

National Security Takes Precedence

Need to guide the media

 

Asif Haroon Raja

The writer is a retired Brig, Defence Analyst/Columnist, Author of books, Director MEASAC Research Centre.  

 

Gen Musharraf after coming to power through a military coup on October 12, 1999 decided to boost up and modernize electronic media by allowing foreign ownership in the name of freedom of expression. Private TV channels were given a free hand to broadcast their own programs and news in 2002. Till that time, apart from few private channels, PTV had remained the sole channel. Within few years one hundred TV channels cropped up and most were owned by foreign groups. Among the TV channels, Jang/News Geo TV gained greater prominence and became popular because of its colorful programs. Anil Ambani from India, an American Group and Mir Shakilur Rehman family jointly owns this independent media corporation.

It is now a well-known secret that Jang-Geo Group is funded by the US State Department, British House of Lords, CIA, MI-6 and RAW. This group is major beneficiary of $60 million allocated by Obama administration for Pak media. Geo and The News as a policy prop up secular and anti-Islam anchors and journalists to promote secularism and undermine Islam. Marvi Sirmed, Farzana Bari, Tahira Abdullah, Kamila Hyat, Hasan Nisar, Ghamdi, Pervez Hoodbhouy, Aysha Saddiqa, Asma Jahangir, Najam Sethi, Imtiaz Alam, MAK Lodhi and some others are among the favorites.   

Since 2004, Pakistan faces a media world war. In international media, Pakistan’s warts are magnified out of all proportions, while its finer features are ignored or downplayed. A few TV channels particularly Geo TV groomed and nourished by foreign agencies are mandated to supplement Indo-US-western media war against Pakistan by badmouthing Pak Army and ISI.

Lending strength to the Indian propaganda, Hamid Mir wrote an article and reiterated in his TV program holding Pak Army squarely responsible for all the atrocities committed in former East Pakistan in 1971 and suggesting that Pakistan must apologise to Bangladesh. For his prejudicial stance, he was rewarded by Bangladesh government. PPP government awarded him Hilal-e-Imtiaz. It may be recalled that his father Waris Mir also spewed venom against Pak Army during and after the 1971 war. He was also conferred Hilal-e-Imtiaz posthumously for his so-called laudable services.       

Geo TV in its exuberance to promote Indian interests diligently works on the Indian theme of ‘common culture’. This is totally in contrast to what Quaid-e-Azam stated and which became the raison de etre for demanding a separate homeland for the Muslims. There is no denying the fact that Hindu and Muslim cultures are totally different and there is hardly anything common between these cultures. Language, script, literature, poetry, music, architecture, dress, food, method of serving food and method of greeting are different. All the rituals on the occasions of birth, marriage, death, and finally the way of thinking are also different.

It may be recalled that the Joint Select Committee on Indian Constitutional Reforms of the House of Commons Session had stated in 1934: Two-thirds of India’s inhabitants profess Hinduism in one form or another as their religion; over seventy five million are followers of Islam; and the difference between the two is not only in religion in the stricter sense but also of law and culture. They may be said to indeed represent two distinct civilizations. Hinduism is distinguished by the phenomena of its caste which is the basis of its religion and social system. The religion of Islam on the other hand is based upon the concept of the equality of man”. (House of Commons UK 1933-34, Volume1, para 1).

 

A highly controversial Aman-ki-Asha venture co-sponsored by Jang-Geo Group and Indian newspaper sprouted from nowhere professing to work towards removing age-old rifts between the two neighbors and promoting peace and harmony. The apparently noble venture is RAW funded and is aimed at making Pakistan submit to Indian demands. While highlighting the virtues of peace, the promoters of this program keep counseling Pak leaders to opt for peace but never counsel the belligerent and uncompromising Indian leaders who want peace on their terms. They want trade, and that too with balance of trade heavily tilted in favor of India, minus Kashmir. They want Pakistan to accept Indian hegemony and live in peace as a vassal State of India.

 

Aman-ki-Asha went for a six in the aftermath of Mumbai attacks in November 2008 because of highly vitriolic military, diplomatic and media campaign launched by India against Pakistan. The purpose behind the Indian media onslaught was to discredit ISI and get it declared a rogue outfit.

The lone key witness Ajmal Kasab, allegedly an ISI/Lashkar-e-Taiba man, was declared a Pakistani. Rather than confronting Indian hostile media by exposing scores of glaring loopholes in the story cooked by India as had been done by ARY, Hamid Mir authenticated Indian story by taking his team to a village Faridkot and declaring that Marhatti-speaking and Raam worshipping Kasab belonged to that village. Kasab was never presented by India to Pakistani investigators/judiciary or to Interpol since it knew that he was a phony. He was secretly hanged to death inside the jail premises despite the fact that he kept pleading that he was not guilty. It has now been announced by a teacher of Ajmal Kasab in Faridkot that he is very much alive and didn’t understand which Kasab was hanged by India.

 

Rather than combating Indian media’s belligerence and highlighting the glaring loopholes in the story concocted by India, Geo remained on the defensive and blamed Pakistan agencies, Lashkar-e-Taeba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa for the sins committed by India. Mir and other Geo anchors didn’t deem it fit to highlight the role of Maharashtra anti-terrorist chief Hemant Karkare who was the first brave Indian police officer to expose Hindu terrorism in 2008. Earlier on, Geo had turned a blind eye to the sensational details provided by I.K. Shukla about Hindu terrorism in India in his report in Milli Gazette dated September 26, 2005. Likewise, startling disclosure made by Swami Aseemanand before investigating magistrate Deepak Dabas on December 18, 2010 that he and several other RSS extremist Hindus were involved in Samjhota Express, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer Sharif and Malegaon blasts, and that Mumbai attacks were conducted by RAW agents with the help of Mosad were also ignored by our media.

 

Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde removed all doubts of RAW’s complicity by giving an interview to Washington Post on January 20, 2013 that BJP and RSS were promoting Hindu terrorism through their training camps. He said that the duo was behind the blasts in Pakistan bound Samjhota Express, in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and the Malegaon mosque in Mahrashtra. He added that the accused blamed the minority community for the crimes. Congress leaders defended Sushil’s stance and confirmed that right wing terrorism was a reality in India.  Satish Verma, former Indian Home Ministry officer and investigator spilled the beans by stating that both December 2001 and November 2008 attacks were orchestrated and pre-planned by incumbent government to pressure Pakistan, discredit ISI and freedom movement in Kashmir. India’s Home Ministry Undersecretary Ravi Mani submitted signed affidavits in the court to substantiate Satish Verma’s report. Yet our media and so-called free and liberal Geo remained mum. One can imagine what would have been the reaction of Indian media had such revelations come to surface against Pakistan.                

 

RAW is deeply involved in destabilizing Balochistan using Afghan soil. Bundles of proofs were provided to Manmohan Singh and Karzai. Chuck Hagel and several other US/western notables are on record having stated that India is pumping in huge funds to destabilize Balochistan. Yet, for unknown reasons our media doesn’t find any fault in RAW’s doings. India has built 62 small and major dams in occupied Kashmir over rivers whose water belongs to Pakistan under 1960 Indus Basin Treaty. Pakistan is being systematically turned into a desert. Like our political leaders, Pak media is also tightlipped over this grave issue which threatens the very existence of Pakistan. Preachers of Aman-ki-Asha feel shy to raise this issue.

India is an ethnic museum ruled by 2.8% Brahmins. It is rived in social injustices, class discriminations, religious prejudices and Hindu bigotry. Rape is used as a weapon in occupied Kashmir; in rest of India rape is practiced as a fashion against low caste Dalit girls. Indian Muslims are treated worst than Dalits, the lowest class within Hinduism. Indian security forces equipped with black laws are involved in most terrible human rights violations in 20 insurgency prone Indian States and in occupied Kashmir. RAW is ill-reputed for its clandestine operations inside and outside India. Large numbers of Indian Army senior officers are involved in corruption and sex scandals. Pakistani prisoners languishing in Indian jails are treated inhumanly.

BJP under Modi is now bent upon imposing Hindutva in India, which will perpetually consign Muslims and other religious minorities to second rated citizens deserving no rights. Our media never touches upon India’s anomalies and excesses but blows up even small weakness of Pakistan. Geo take the lead in subtly discussing settled issues like creation of Pakistan, acceptance of truncated Pakistan, two-nation theory, Objectives Resolution and ideology of Pakistan to mislead the younger generation.

PEMRA should be reformed and asked to formulate a comprehensive media policy and guide the print/electronic media to divert its energies from harmful programs towards constructive and motivational programs aimed at building nationalism, patriotism and bridging divides within the society. The media should assist in building rather than tarnishing the image of the defenders of Pakistan. Notwithstanding media’s fruitful contributions, its negatives should be turned into positives.  

 

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst/columnist, author of books, Director MEASAC Research Centre.  

 asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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