|I COMMAND YOU
TO PRAISE ME
Well my fears continue to be realized with time and yet again we were not surprised when the President of Pakistan, the so-called upholder of the free press, went ahead to ink the new PEMRA ordinance which gives President Pervez Musharraf more authority in controlling the electronic media. Quite simply Musharraf was a supporter of the open dialog so long as they don’t question his authority, since March 9th the media has repeatedly asked him tough questions and he continues to fail in terms of Public perception and hence now Musharraf feels that the media must be brought under control to the extend of forcible shutting down media outlets if they do not follow the editorial policy to positively portray the image of Musharraf
Musharraf’s dictatorship upon the people of Pakistan has now becoming more threatening to sayI Command you to Praise me or else … off to the gallows
The free press bubble which was hailed as a breathtakingly new & bold initiative ever to have been undertaken by any previous Army General in the history of Pakistan, he proclaimed this feat as an important chain-link for his holistic concept sweetly termed as Enlightened Moderation. It was without doubt the free press / Enlightened Moderation (Anti-Taliban / Anti-Madrassah) concept fooled top leaders like George Bush into accepting his military dictatorship and continued to offer an extension to his stay in power. For the past seven years Musharraf has used the Free Media trump card against all critics who have dared question his rule on Pakistan quite simply staring down the individual with a simple response ‘has the press become freer like never before?’. I must admit the Press was free, it was allowed to blossom into a beautifully lily, the discussion and dialog was considered a democratic right of any individual, but how fickle were the foundations of this Enlightened Moderation & free press that the moment the media raised a finger to question the President of Pakistan in the same democratic manner, he rebounds with a clamp down on the media with a number of restrictions, in effect censoring the media forcing it to adopt a pro-government attitude.
The free media has without doubt glorified its creator [Musharraf] for over seven years…. When he showed them his candor during his interview, the media clapped…. When he showed them sparkling GDP and economic numbers, the media clapped…. When he showed them his finesse at handling the 9/11 crisis, the media applauded…. When showed them how to handle Jon Stewart on Comedy Channel, the media raved.
But when he showed them the assassination of Bugti, the media stood silent…. When he showed them that he was above the Law by trying to unseat the CJP, the media cried foul…. but what really pulled the string was when he deliberately left an entire city of Karachi at the hands of ruthless killers entrusted to foil the grand reception for the CJP, the media yelled ‘enough is enough’. The free media could not keep quite any more and considered it their journalistic duty to report the truth, they could not live with the guilt of having watched the assassination of more then 40 people on May 12th and smile to say ‘Shabash Mushy… Well Done’
Had if, Musharraf gotten his way on the fateful day of May 12th the massacre would never had made it onto TV and later that evening cowering behind inch thick bullet proof screens in Islamabad, he would have placed the blame of the ‘entire‘ massacre on the hands of the CJP and Judicial body rallying in his support, but that was not so, the people pf Pakistan had witnessed a shocking day and were not to be fooled any further, sadly the media spoiled his picture perfect plan.
Hence in an attempt to stop such incidents from ever happening again, the PEMRA ordinance has been strengthened to clamp down on such LIVE telecasts ever in the future the red-tape increased enough that the media outlets would unwillingly be forced to adopt the propagandistic policies enforced by the government, no more hot interviews, no more anti-government / anti-Musharraf debates, propaganda will be the easiest story to make the hourly headlines and breaking news will be limited a boring old PTV Khabarnama.
Adil Najam of Pakistaniat in his weekly column titled Respecting the military and the media in The News quite rightly says
I have never been impressed by General Musharraf’s chest-thumping assertions about how he ‘gave’ freedom to the press. Freedom is not something that anyone can ‘give’ to anyone else. It is a desire that is inherent, intrinsic and ingrained within individuals as well as institutions. The credit for the expression of freedom by the Pakistani media can, therefore, go to no one except the Pakistani media itself. Having said that, it is also true that while freedom cannot be ‘given’ it can be ‘taken away.’ While freedom cannot be bestowed by government, it can — and often is curtailed by government. For much of his tenure, General Musharraf does deserve credit for having chosen not to limit or attack the freedom of the media. He cannot be credited with ‘giving’ the media new freedoms, but he should certainly be commended for not ‘taking it away’ — that is, until now.
Unfortunately, he seems to be losing his patience; and his cool. Like many before him, he now finds it convenient to blame the media for problems — such as the judicial crisis and the increasing anger against the military– that are essentially of his own making. He seems ready to undo one more positive aspect of his political legacy. Indeed, he may already have.
While Ahmed Rashid for writing for Washington Post / Newsweek writes in his article titled Musharraf = Military Rule, Cannot Survive (credit The Glasshouse)
Musharraf cannot survive the year. His actions over the past few months have pitted the armed forces against the Pakistani public and a section of the establishment that includes the judiciary and civil society. If Musharraf continues along this present path in defiance of public and judicial demands, he may plunge the country into civil war.
Yes I feel its a defining moment for Pakistan and very soon we shall see who and what remains after the dust settles, but this is for sure Musharraf has his head on the chopping block, any takers?