Sunday, July 29, 2012

...Yet Another Gate

Today on CNN, during his interview with Wolf Blitzer, Hussain Haqqani lamented the fact that Pakistan is becoming an isolationist country because of its policies. He indicated that these policies are the reasons Pakistan is struggling in international relations.  This emotion is also rampant  within Pakistan. Pakistanis have a nihilistic attitude towards each other. It is not Pakistanis against the world--it is Pakistanis against each other, at each others throat.

Right now Pakistan is at a very sensitive chapter of its story in an entire book of sensitive chapters. Multiple pillars of its foundation are crumbling simultaneously. A student of history would be hard taxed to find a time in the life of any country where the army, the judiciary, the sitting government, and the media were all involved in a circus of moral ambiguity.

Some might call it a conspiracy, a saazish. But as news anchor Talat Hussain said, the word saazish has been used in Pakistan so much that we have to think before we use it, implying that the word had lost its intensity with overuse.

The latest onslaught started with the rumor that a number of  journalists were being influenced by Malik Riaz, an influential real-estate tycoon. There was talk of transfers of cash, gifts of homes and cars. Historically, Malik sahab never shied from media coverage . At some point, allegedly, he decided that if he could get journalists to say what he wanted, the world would be a happier place for him. Soon after that, a list was circulated with names of journalists and a list after each name of the gifts they had received. Nobody knows for sure how that list found its way into the limelight.  A twitter frenzy ensued with denials flying fast and furious and the dissension among the ranks of news reporters became crystal clear. There was no teamwork, no camaraderie, no loyalties, no friendship. It was every man and woman for themselves. Friends did not vouch for friends. Colleagues did not become incensed over insulted friends. No! The theme was: I will take care of me and you can go down in flames! Good Luck!

I saw the same isolationism in the judiciary. The man in the center of that guessed it, the one and only, Malik Riaz.  He was ordered into court to present his case over the jaw-dropping allegations he made against the son of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. And not just any Chief Justice. Chaudhry Iftikhar will go down in the history of Pakistan as one of the toughest  judges the country has seen.  If Pakistan is Gotham he is Batman! If Pakistan is Metropolis, Chaudhry Iftikhar believes he is Superman. I think that if he wasn’t afraid of ridicule, the man would wear tights and a cape to work! Anyway, so Malik Riaz, to present his case to the court hired a lawyer: one Zahid Bokhari. And in a case of misplaced display of solidarity to the Chief Justice, the Lahore High Court Bar Association barred him from entering the premises. Why? The man was just doing his job. Even murderers and terrorists get lawyers and they are not ostracized. In fact, some of them are the most respected members of our judiciary. And why didn’t the Chief Justice instruct them to not act like spoiled children on his behalf?

The most damning bombshell came when someone leaked footage taken during breaks of an interview of none other than Malik Riaz. The footage showed that the entire interview was orchestrated by the Malik Sahab himself. During the break,  the anchors would discuss what to ask and when to ask particular questions. It became obvious that the management and owners of the studio were complicit in this charade. Especially,  when it was decided that if the program was flowing, breaks would not be taken. It is not often that anybody comes between a studio executive and his sponsers. Malik Riaz is that special.

The next few days will be dedicated to dissecting, analysing and condemning the incident. Jobs will be lost and heads will roll, not literally, I hope. I don't think that it is difficult to find out who had access to this footage. I’m sure there is a very limited number of people that could have gotten their hands on it. But that might just be oversimplifying the matter. Was it a vendetta against the journalists by Malik Riaz or vice versa. Was it the government or the judiciary or the new World Order. If you ask me, with apologies to Talat Hussain, it sounds like a saazish!

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