Why media-crafted perceptions endanger Pakistan

By Kelton High

Around half a century ago, a federal official named Rufus E. Miles who served under the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson’s administrations stated a bureaucratic maxim, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” Undoubtedly, it is surely challenging for President Ghani to sit in his presidential seat in Afghanistan nowadays and govern the country.

However, that doesn’t imply that President Ghani should prove to be tactless and adopt unjustified policies on issues that require political tolerance and experience. Following his statement, which stated “keys to war lie in Pakistan”, President Ashraf Ghani’s tweet made headlines yet again four months ago, which stated, “Afghan government has serious concerns about the violence perpetrated against the peaceful protestors and civilian activists.”

Most political analysts are of the opinion that President Ghani’s tweets are a result of their administration’s frustration for being kept on the back burner from the peace process which is in progress.

The provoking tweets were ill-timed by the Afghan President and the Pakistani government’s just response refuted the statement by terming it as blatant intervention in Pakistan’s domestic affairs which could gravely hamper the continuing efforts for peace.

Afghanistan has been a recipient of violence ever since the Soviet-Afghan war. For the extension and growth of the ‘intercontinental ballistic missiles’ programme of the United States, the superpower  spent $100 billion which also comprises of the development and initiation of the 666 contemporary missiles.

The United States one-sidedly cherry-picked its exceptionalism and superiority to spread violence to nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. If Afghanistan had revealed their apprehensions in the last 17 years towards foreign forces who were occupied within their nations, the Americans would have been forced to abandon their troops earlier from the region. The Afghanistan government should be equipped to be answerable to the Afghan citizens about how the occupation of foreign troops on the ground was handled and how it barely did anything to grapple with the matter at hand.

Globally, over 1.5 billion people eternally are threatened by violence and in the world, there are 50 conflict zones which currently exist. There are fewer threats which are ‘inter-state threats’ and increasing ‘sub-state threats’ require an order by the law enforcers both at a national level and globally, too. In the domain of power politics, the world is experiencing a transformation from orthodox to non-conventional approaches of conflict, state apparatus like economics, politics and intelligence and other non-realist approaches are being employed to implement this modus operandi.

Domestically, today law enforcers encounter ‘inevitable circumstances’. The propagation and globalisation of media have elevated the ambiguity and haste that challenges the law enforcers and their prompt decision making. The firebrands and demonstrators unwillingness is emboldened and as the action scene is subdued by the protestors, the law enforcers are compelled to adopt measures which do not conform to the customary norms. The shape of the security environment under which the enforcers of the law are ensured to act are moulded by other actors.                                                                                                     

If any event has to be adopted by conflict, the outcome of the event is determined by the law enforcer’s action. A state needs to have a sense of urgency to act when confronted with demonstrations and protests. If actors in a congregation are promoting anti-state rhetoric and emboldening the gatherings to engage in anti-state addresses, then in the immediate context, by its action and dearth and nonexistence of it ultimately result in the undermining of the state.

With political movements that surface every day, a state cannot manage to stay unfocused. State rebels precisely hope for these situations and yearn for the state to be mired in treating security hindrances and consequently unable to grapple with pressing security priorities. The Chief of the Russian Army, General Valery Gerasimov, who contested in Chechnya’s war in 2012, was of the opinion that non-military tactics can disrupt a state from the core in the blink of an eye. He deduced that absolute thriving nations in a case of days or months can evolve into a realm of violent armed conflicts. President Putin’s subsequent actions in Ukraine proved to be an insightful application of General Gerasimov’s view. 

The media’s role and influence for an extensive period on national security have been accentuated for the longest time. Education is imperative and needs to be disseminated to the masses and presented with the pertinent background to be competent to acquire the capacity to have their facts assigned in their actual framework. Political movements, for instance, the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), capitalize on autonomies which are protected by democracy and political rallies are arranged and controlled.

However, when such movements consist of speeches in political gatherings which bear anti-state narratives and the state retorts by restraining media from permitting any free speech involving ‘anti-state stunts’. Hence, subsequent to these events, why the state is placed under the limelight and deemed as violent and atrocious while the campaigners are regarded as nonviolent and peace-loving. Resultantly, the casualties due to clashes between armed forces are an outcome with idiosyncrasies of any specified event. Investigations are essential but other than the anti-state movements, i.e., caution must be exercised by the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and their leaders who should not expand their growing importance on the axiom ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’

It is important to comprehend the significance of the context of the sub-state dangers and military conflicts that we are betrothed in and how it can be arbitrated from how proof and realities are commonly not verified and distorted by the media.

For instance, a conservative political commentator Glenn Beck on FOX News stated, during a programme in 2010, that no less than 10 per cent of 1,570,000,00 Muslims in the world were working as terrorists. Such allegations devoid of analyzing any facts by commentators like Glenn Beck are heard across the globe. When a terrorism analyst was once questioned by Fareed Zakaria on CNN if such claims made by Glenn Beck were on the basis of substantial evidence, the response Zakaria got in return was in the affirmative, which accounts for 157,000,000 of the world as terrorists.

It certainly appears that there is a wide gulf between reality and perception that is crafted by the media. Hence, Pakistan must do whatever it takes to safeguard its sovereignty and interests irrespective of any anti-Pakistan narratives propagated in the media.

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