Journalism’s Code of Conduct

Shaikh Moazam Khan


By Shaikh Moazam Khan

Pakistan has become cauldron of anti-Pakistan journalism for some media houses and anchors. A few international journalists are continuously maligning Pakistani government and state institutions including armed forces. They are accusing them without proper investigation and evidences, which is condemnable. The fate of these journalists lies with the international media watchdogs and so called organizations. Owen Bennett Jones is among those journalists who are extensively writing on Pakistan in a negative way. Owen Bennett Jones is a freelance British journalist and a former relief host of ‘News hour’ on the Service. He has been a resident foreign correspondent of BBC World News in Islamabad for many years and a Professor of Journalism at Princeton University.

Jones has a long history of anti-Pakistan and anti- Army content on his credit. He wrote five books on various issues and four of them are on Pakistani politics. His major contribution to the literary community is his book, “Pakistan: Eye of the Storm”. This book propagates the topics like surge of Talibanization in the Pakistan and their ‘so called’ access to nuclear weapons in addition to other negative accounts. His book “The Bhutto Dynasty” will be published later this year. He has been showing keen interest in the affairs of the country; interesting to be in case you are a foreign journalist. In his book, he argued that Pakistan – with its political instability, vociferous Islamic community, pressing economic and social problems, access to nuclear weapons, and proximity to Afghanistan – stands at the very centre of global attention. He pointed in his book that can General Musharraf, Pakistan’s military ruler, control the forces that helped create the Taliban in Afghanistan? In this book, journalist Owen Bennett Jones looks at Pakistan’s turbulent past, recounts its recent history, and assesses its future options. At this point, I would must say here that one should not judge or make negative opinion about any state or person without proper knowledge especially while writing a book or article. It looks very odd when you write something against the national interests of state on the basis of factions and imported realities.

Pakistan’s had played a role of front line warrior to fight Taliban and other non-state actors. It has lost 70,000 innocent people and law enforcement officials in this war, which was triggered by USA. Still Pakistani armed forces are fighting valiantly against the enemies and non-state actors. Instead of recognizing Pakistan’s sacrifices especially in war against terror, Mr. Jones tried to exploit the fault-lines of the country. In lieu of that, few among a long list of his anti-Pakistan articles, pod cast and radio plays are; Regional Politics, Surrender Again?, The real danger, Big little lies, The Military and the Mullahs, One Screw Short, Does the Military Still Control Pakistan, pod cast on the murder of Benazir Bhutto and a radio play about the assassination of the Pakistani politician Salman Taseer titled “Blasphemy and the Governor of Punjab”. He also wrote negative content about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan which is most sensitivity issue in Pakistan. One should respect the laws of land while writing anything about religious ideology. He or she must keep in mind that his/ her articles shouldn’t hurt the feeling and sentiments of general public.

Mr. Jones is seen as pointing fingers at Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies for most of the issues faced in Pakistan. So much so in one of his books, he correlates Pakistan Army to Lord Shiva seen as the sustained as well as a destroyer of Pakistan. He was also seen actively accusing ISI for Osama Bin Laden’s episode. It is also observed in his writing that he used the references of anti-Pakistan people such as Hussein Haqqani who frequently writes against the Islamabad’s armed forces. About Hussain Haqqani’s book, “Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military”, Jones comments, Hussain Haqqani has seen Pakistani politics close up. Hussein Haqqani has been critical of Pakistani Armed Forces and intelligence agencies. His views about the domestic issues are not encouraging. Indian newspapers are providing him space to malign Pakistani establishment. It is pertinent to mention here that he forgot the norms of journalism while writing. International media watchdogs must act against these journalists who are mocking the entire media fraternity.

It is interesting to note that a leading Pakistani newspaper, “Dawn” mostly publishes his stories. Dawn News is also critical of Pakistani government’s policies. In the recent past, Dawn News published his latest anti-Pakistan article “Regional Politics” on 31 Mar 20 which is a totally misleading and vicious account. The timing of the article is very important. As entire world is fighting common cause Covid-19, Dawn News is giving space to the anti-Pakistan writings. I would like to say at the end that Dawn has made an effort to hit the national security, the govt, the Armed Forces and the people of Pakistan. By providing space to anti-Pakistan writings and people, it seems that this newspaper is collaborating with the hostile elements to target Pakistan at this crucial time. It is responsibility of domestic newspapers to stop giving space to anti-Pakistan elements and their writing. The newspaper must protect the national interests of the country while publishing articles. If it doesn’t stop writing against the national interests, an appropriate action must be taken against the panel. Dawn deserves to be taken to task for publishing such a stinking article.