Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Lifafas

Some years ago I came across an article about Najam Sethi & GEO, before the two were together. The article narrates the story of a visit to the US by GEO TV CEO Mir Ibrahim Rehman. Mr Rehman graced with his presence a reception thrown by US AfPak ambassador Richard Holbrooke's media assistant Ashley Bommer. This was a time of strained relations between the US administration & GEO because of the latter’s aggressive nationalist, “anti-american” rhetoric. The purpose of his visit apparently was to assure the US that his channel was changing tact soon, and that the allegedly millions of US tax dollars it receives for airing American propaganda show “Voice Of America” need not be stopped. Accompanying Mr Rehman was Najam Sethi. 

Not much later, Najam Sethi joined GEO & started his show “Apas Ki Baat” on a pretty neat time slot. Everyone will have their own interpretation about whether that’s a step in more or less “anti-american”-ness.

Some critics have pointed out that there seems to be a peculiar trend in the Pakistani media. Neutral journalists that are hounded through accusations of bias by rabid social media “trolls”, often end up with cushy jobs. The jobs then often turn out to be provided by people they are, unfairly, accused of being favourably biased towards.

The latest incidence in this unsubstantiated fabrication untruth thing is appointment as ambassador of one Mr Kamran Shafi. To that harsh, unforgiving, wasteland; Cuba. Yet Shafi and friends have not made a big deal of the tough task he has been handed. Perhaps because earlier when uncle Micky almost got the UK job, ungentlemanly conduct ensued on social media. In case you are wondering why, it is because of Mr Shafi’s, entirely unwarranted, reputation as an attack dog of the PMLN.

Mr Shafi is expected to guide Raul Castro on intricacies of misogyny against political opponents.

Individual frailties, if a frailty at all right? Recall that during Dharna days last year, an attempt by the protestors to move from in front of the Parliament to in front of the PM House resulted in a crackdown by the police. Killed a few, injured a few hundred. The PMLN back then paid 450 million to private media, from the public exchequer, to promote their ads terming the episode an attack on parliament. As luck would have it, many journalists working for the channels paid started to propagate exactly what the PMLN were saying.

VC PHA & Geo journalist Iftikhar Ahmed gives his professional, unbiased & independent opinion on flowers to not his boss' son.

The point of these examples is to see things on three different levels so as to be sure before drawing any conclusions. That individual journalists, single news channels, and larger media all appear to bend their rhetoric to suit apparent benefactors is, surely, without a doubt, positively; an accident. 

It’s what you may call a fluke, a glitch, stroke of luck, chance, freak of nature, unlucky break, random occurrence, an anomaly, an inconsistency, an irregularity, or an abnormality. Etc. Point is; it’s not indicative of anything. These things happen.

“There are accidents”, said grand master Oogway.

That Najam Sethi is hired after he and GEO management assure the US of going soft on them is an accident. That Kamran Shafi gets the cushy post he’s been hankering after for years whilst attacking PMLN’s political opponents is an accident. That 450 million paid to the media coincided with journalists using exact terms as analysis as those advertised by PMLN is, no prizes for guessing; an accident. 

"O ballay ballay phir PCB chairman bana dya Mian sahab ne"

Here is a partial list of accidents one can recall that happened to journalists or people in the media who in turn happened to be parroting the stance of those in power.

Murtaza Solangi (Radio Pakistan)

Najam Sethi (GEO)

Irfan Siddiqui (Advisor)

Najam Sethi (Caretaker 90s)

Mubasher Luqman (Caretaker)

Najam Sethi (Caretaker 2013)

Iftikhar Ahmed (Vice Chairman PHA)

Najam Sethi (PCB Caretaker)

Arif Nizami (Caretaker)

Najam Sethi (PCB suspending constitution)

Muhammad Malick (MD PTV)

Najam Sethi (PCB Board)

Kamran Shafi (Ambassador Cuba)

Hussain Haqqani (Ambassador USA)

Ata-ul-Haq Qasmi (Chairman Alhamra Arts Council)

Note: Marxist rebel turned US real estate investors are more prone to accidents than others.

"Nazareen ab contractually mandated 5 minute me Murtaza ko bolnay du ga kyun ke channel PPP ka hai"

Of course these are bigger names whose misfortunes have been of a public nature. Accidents are happening daily. In areas such as gov housing allotments to journalists, plots, business to advertising companies, or media consultancies run by journos or spouses or relatives.

If you go through the names above the preceding lines, and the ones in between them, you will surely realize that most, if not all, of these gents have had it with their motives being questioned. They have all faced the virulent harassment by trolls who think, unreasonably, that they sell their speech for various incentives. That harassment must stop. They are the victims here.

I know it’s a small step, but I hope this write-up has clarified a number of misconceptions that pollute social media & trolls will now realize how wrong they have been to question our paragons of virtue, truth, neutrality & weird hairdos. So the next time you see them or their friends having an indignant rant on TV about allegations of bias, or sharing a joke on social media about non-payment of bribes, have a heart and give them a hug. They need our support, for they get no Lifafay.

P.S: Wishing Mr Shafi a jolly good time & deep statesmanship in Cuba.