The Propaganda Machine of Media

Sidra Insar Chaudhary


Sidra Insar Chaudhary


Owen Bennett Jones gained popularity due to award-winning podcast The Assassination that was based on the investigation into the death of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. Prior to the podcast, Owen had served as a reporter for the BBC for thirty years, mostly in Geneva, Hanoi, Beirut, Bucharest, and Islamabad.  Out of all these places, Owen has been especially crazy about Pakistan. Be it his most acclaimed nonfiction book titled Pakistan: Eye of the Storm or his fictional title Target Britain, everything seems to originate from or revolve around Pakistan.

It’s not only books or podcasts, Owen’s write regularly for controversial news outlets in Pakistan and India. His articles are anti-Pakistan and its army most of the time. One can google his writings and it is not hard to conclude after reading his opinions that he is working on an agenda to destabilize Pakistan as a state. For instance, his most recent Op-Ed on Pakistan published in controversial Dawn newspaper on 31 March with the title of ‘Regional Politics’ opens with an outrageous suggestion that Pakistan should’ve been declared as a terrorism-sponsoring country.

One institution has been specifically targeted by Mr. Owen and it happens to be the most important for the existence of the country–The armed forces of Pakistan. Owen equates the Pakistan army with Shiva–the sustainer and the destroyer of the country at the same time. Owen considers the army the cause of every problem facing the country whether it be bad governance or corruption of politicians or the ruling elite. Owen’s views are similar to foreign lackeys like Hussain Haqqani and Pakistan’s liberal elite; they too blame the army for keeping people poor while conveniently forgetting that multi-billion-rupee houses from which they are proselytizing have been built by taking advantage of the poor people of the country.

When Prime minister Imran Khan says that he has never seen the media as we have in Pakistan he is certainly right. Nowhere in the world you would see one of the major newspapers advocating and providing space to propaganda articles asking the country to be declared a sponsor of terrorism. World’s largest newspaper is the perfect example of understanding and supporting the national security of the country. NY times never goes against US’s defined policies and goals. A few months ago, it provided the platform to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the same leader of the Haqqani network and the Taliban, that it had declared a threat to America. What changed? American foreign policy objective in Afghanistan, and with it the New York Times. The same is the case with other developed countries, be it Germany, UK or France. Just go to the websites and browse major news outlets. You will not see any demand or suggestion for their own country to be blacklisted or declared a terrorist sponsor.

One has to wonder then why Dawn keeps providing space to people who are known to be anti-Pakistan and army, but not to ones who intend to show the real and positive picture of Pakistan. For instance, it’s a fact that Pakistan army on the war against terrorism in the country but you won’t find any editorial or Op-ed praising or simply stating this fact. Why Dawn only covers the negative news about Pakistan and conveniently forget when something positive happens? It all comes down to money.

Dawn is owned by billionaire Hameed Haroon, who over the years has built his fortune and influence by using the paper. For example, when renowned film director Jami accused Hameed Haroon of rape, Dawn only published an article with a one-sided story by its owner. Dawn’s staff also ran campaigns against Jami on social media sites to discredit him. Jami is still trying to get his side of the story covered in the paper. By pressurizing or siding with different governments, Dawn got lucrative advertisement deals. It all came to the public attention when PM Imran announced that he won’t offer ultra-lucrative ad deals to the paper like previous governments. From the next month, Dawn cut short its business section and lay off some staff and started a campaign against the government on social media that it wants to kill the paper. Nowhere in the world papers are run on government ads as the primary source of finances. It is against all principles of free media.

As Brené Brown said, “It’s in our biology to trust what we see with our eyes. This makes living in a carefully edited, overproduced, and photoshopped world very dangerous.” By going so brazenly against Pakistan and its army Dawn is trying to pressurize them to get the same ad contracts it got in the previous governments. However, instead of giving in like in the past, this time the government should say enough is enough for Dawn and subject the paper to regulatory action. If there is no Pakistan, then there is no Dawn. Newspapers are not money printing machines for rich owners like Hameed Haroon’s of this world to build their empires. The paper that pride itself as ‘paper of Jinnah’ should never be used as a device to destabilize the country of Jinnah.