Sham Apology

ban GeoBy S. M. Hali

A certain media group, which was under the illusion of grandeur, assumed airs to the extent that it decided to denigrate the armed forces and its allied security agency. It was very unfortunate because times have changed and no organization is exempted from public scrutiny but the basic ethics have not changed i.e. slander and defamation campaigns cannot be launched unequivocally without presenting an iota of evidence. Such malicious and one sided propaganda falls under the purview of libel. No institution is without its fair share of black sheep but the armed forces have a time tested system of self correction, in which misdemeanor has zero tolerance and the system of justice and punitive action takes care of those who transgress the legal system laid down under each service’s Act. However, if wrongdoings are detected by media, it is welcome to come forward with proof and through the appropriate channels.

Much to its chagrin, when this particular media house decided to take on the armed forces of Pakistan, treating them as if they were an alien or enemy occupation force and the media house was an underground resistance movement, it discovered that the common people of Pakistan stood up to safeguard the good name of the armed forces and its allied security agency. The fact is that the armed forces have stood like a solid edifice whenever external or internal forces have challenged the sovereignty or security of Pakistan. The security agency has been Pakistan’s first and last line of defence against the conspiracies and machinations being planned against our beloved motherland. The hostile plots hatched by adversaries of Pakistan, sometimes under the garb of friendship and alliance have been detected and thwarted by the security agency in question. Recognizing the potential, capacity and capability of ISI to keep the enemy at bay not only through reactive actions but by employing proactive strategies to identify plots being conspired against Pakistan and nipping them in the bud, has won it laurels at home but hastened the adversaries’ determination to destroy this great institution along with its parent organization the armed forces.

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Despite the fact that Pakistan army has crossed the boundaries of the constitution and usurped power from civilian governments on four occasions, the people of Pakistan love and respect their armed forces and their institutions since they are the guardians of the citadel of Pakistan. Apart from that, whenever the nation has beckoned the armed forces, be it natural calamities or manmade disasters, it is the armed forces, who have rushed to their rescue, reviving, rebuilding and rehabilitating the affectees of the catastrophe.

[box] Much to its chagrin, when this particular media house decided to take on the armed forces of Pakistan, treating them as if they were an alien or enemy occupation force and the media house was an underground resistance movement, it discovered that the common people of Pakistan stood up to safeguard the good name of the armed forces and its allied security agency. The fact is that the armed forces have stood like a solid edifice whenever external or internal forces have challenged the sovereignty or security of Pakistan.[/box]

It should not have come as a surprise to the media house in question that the people of Pakistan took up the cudgels to support and back the armed forces. The other media persons of Pakistan do not disparage or scorn even the inimical secret agencies or hostile armed forces as this media house has indulged in mudslinging or hurling abuse at its own military and ISI. This unwarranted aggressive attitude gave rise to suspicions that the media house in question was acting at the behest of enemies of Pakistan, who wanted to destabilize Pakistan but sought to achieve their heinous aim by discrediting the defenders of the nation. The agenda of this reprehensible plot may be apparent but it is not clear at what price the media house sold its soul to the enemies of Pakistan.

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The redeeming factor is that the parent organization, the Ministry of Defence filed a law suit against the media house and the judiciary took punitive action, which was just a token punishment. The media house was guilty of treason since attempting to destroy the armed forces and its allied institutions is tantamount to aiding and abetting the enemies of the state. The punishment for treason is death and the media house got away with only a rap on the knuckle i.e. PEMRA ordered it to be taken off the air for a fortnight and fined a paltry sum of Rs. 10 million; an amount they must have recovered in a couple of commercial breaks.

One would have expected remorse to have set in and the media house to have learnt its lesson to stop vilifying the armed forces and its institutions without presenting an iota of evidence. Even if had irrefutable proof of the armed forces’ alleged misdeeds, the correct course is to present the evidence to the judiciary and let the law of the land take effect. By becoming, judge jury and executioner, the media house violated the norms of good journalism.

This media house rendered an apology to the armed forces and ISI and resultantly PEMRA asked the cable owners to restore the TV Channel of the media house so that it had strategic placement. Unfortunately, as events unfolded especially during the political circus that is currently under play in Islamabad, the same media house forgot its vows of chastity and resumed its old practices of maligning the armed forces on pure hearsay and doubts cast by a few politicians, who had a score to settle. None of the other media houses accepted the accusations as gospel and reported the allegations objectively. ISPR itself put to rest the rumours and unfounded charges but this particular media house has continued its incessant tirade.

Unfortunately, a deluge in the rivers Jhelum and Chenab wreaked havoc in many districts of Punjab but the armed forces rushed to the rescue of their stranded countrymen and rescued at the peril of their lives. The death toll has crossed over two hundred and a number of them are soldiers who sacrificed themselves beyond the call of duty. Such valour and courage should have been eulogized by the media. Other institutions are showering praise for the service to the nation by its valiant sons of the soil, its gallant soldiers, sailors and airmen but the media house in question is having trouble in even acknowledging the deeds of the good Samaritans.

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Any other nation would have chastised such outlandish demeanor but this media house is again getting away with it.

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