Their Denials and Propagandists

My Outlook Afghanistan op-ed Nov 01

The BBC documentary Secret Pakistan was not the first such reporting to ‘reveal’ how Taliban regrouped and made a comeback launching a sophisticated insurgency by the help of their Al-Qaeda mentors and supporters hiding and training in the safe havens of Pakistani tribal areas, under the eyes of Pakistani intelligence agencies. Such a documentary might depict the untold and unseen pictures behind the smoke in Afghanistan for people around the world, but the governments of the US and NATO countries know it more than Afghans do.

But one doesn’t understand the reason why international forces have been ignoring the fact and choosing to always be the first in making attempts to mend relations with the so-called ally of the war on terror, latest of which was seen in the Islamabad visit by US Secretary of State Clinton.

What will it take the US and NATO to change the counterinsurgency strategy with the reality that unless Taliban are denied the support and sanctuary across the border in Pakistan, a military success is impossible in Afghanistan? Militants killed 13 Americans in Kabul the other day. They have launched successful attacks targeting the ISAF Headquarters and the US Embassy in the most secure parts of Kabul. Will a militant takeover of the Presidential Palace or the US Embassy take them to respond?

As usual, there always come the denials, which we are used to since the last 10 years. The latest of it was about ISI spying on German officers training Afghan Police. The ISAF spokesman made a hilarious remark yesterday when asked whether the information spied by the ISI could be passed to the Taliban. He said, “It’s good that the Taliban know how well police are being trained“.

As expected, there was a denial of the BBC documentary by none other than Mr. Ejaz Haider, a Pakistani analyst writing on defense and security issues. It’s the worst of irony when someone like Mr. Haider teaches tests of reporting to the BBC. But wait. He is not naïve, nor his piece “Journalism or Jabberwocky?” published on Pakistan Today on Oct 27 is an emotional reaction. He is playing with different audiences. Mr. Haider lists several fact-checks about the BBC documentary.

He says “the BBC has embedded with the National Directorate of Security, interviewed ‘alleged’ Taliban commanders and talked to ‘impartial’ actors like Amrullah Saleh, former CIA officer Bruce Riedel and former British officer Col Richard Kemp“. But actually Mr. Haider is feeding propaganda to his readers.

He simply twists the facts by saying that the BBC “embedded” with NDS or interviewed Taliban commanders in their custody. Those Taliban commanders are active insurgents now. What does Ijaz Haider mean by asking the BBC to have interviewed ‘impartial’ people, an insurgent commander fighting on payroll? The documentary interviews several Pakistani military officials in that documentary including former ISI Chief General Hamid Gul, Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg and former officials who commanded military operations in Waziristan.

It’s ironic when someone like Mr. Haider questions tests of reporting by BBC, while he is a well known mouthpiece of the military establishment in Pakistan’s supposedly liberal English media. It’s not just the BBC or NYTimes doing such reports about the support behind Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Recently there was an exclusive story on Express Tribune, where Mr. Haider writes a weekly column, about the Taliban sanctuary in Kharotabad area of Quetta. The report included followings;

  •  Madrassahs in Kharotabad are providing free accommodation to Taliban militants from Afghanistan.
  •  At least six to eight new, unarmed recruits leave Kuchlak Bazar, located near Quetta, on brand new 75CC motorbikes every morning, headed towards Afghanistan.
  • The wounded Afghan Taliban militants receive free medical treatment at five prominent private hospitals [in Quetta].
  • An international NGO of world repute, funds their medical care.

In a TV talk show recently, former ISI Chief Hamid Gul was saying “Jalaluddin Haqqani is as Pakistani as I am“. He also proudly revealed that he had sent his sons Omar and Abdullah to Jihad with Haqqanis. One shakes head listening to a former Chief of the ISI saying this, but not surprising to read Gen Asad Durrani who wrote in a column couple of weeks ago calling Ejaz Haider his “former comrade in arms“, which makes it clear why Mr. Haider was so pissed with the BBC documentary that he quickly produced a denial twisting the facts.

Instead of questioning their deep-state on why the entire world complains about their double-games, Pakistani analysts like Mr. Haider continue forming perceptions to hide the facts, the way Pakistanis have always been fed propaganda about Afghanistan.

Thanks to propaganda by people like Mr. Haider, common myths among ordinary Pakistanis today are; Taliban represent majority of Afghans, who support the ‘Jihad’ against the ‘occupation’ of foreign troops. Such is the level of shameless propaganda that recently a prominent columnist Orya Maqbool Jan was saying that Taliban control 80 percent of Afghanistan and they will come back to power.

There are rare voices of sanity in Pakistani media commenting on Afghanistan, but many of those propagandists who feed the narrative of the military-jihadi nexus to common people. Recently Hamid Mir, another top TV anchor and columnist had invented a proverb referring to the Tajiks of Afghanistan. It is not his ignorance, but intentional propaganda when he makes up a proverb that does not exist.

And there is no language as Tajiki, as he had written in his column on Daily Jang Oct 24 provoking Tajik-Pashtun ethnic divide in Afghanistan. Unfortunately there are many of Hamid Mirs and Ejaz Haiders in Pakistani media who distort facts and make perceptions to promote a particular narrative and propaganda about Afghanistan.

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1 Comment

Filed under Pakistan

One response to “Their Denials and Propagandists

  1. aliarqam

    One should not forget Hamid Mir audio conversation with a member of Punjabi Taliban, Usman Punjabi, when he was giving details about another ISI operative and active character in Lal Masjid’ issue.

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