Whose Agenda is it Anyway?

Interesting media row bubbling away in Pakistan. This week The Washington Post reports how the American embassy in Islamabad is sending corrections and clarifications to Pakistani media houses. Presumably frustrated at what officials have called “false and malicious” or “a paranoid fabrication”, they have hurtled headlong into a row I suspect they can’t win.

In this duel, the embassy says its biggest foe is the Nation, an English-language newspaper. It has published photos of houses it says were rented by menacing American operatives employed by the security company Blackwater; in one case, according to a U.S. Embassy correction, the resident was a U.S. aid worker.

More recently, the newspaper reported what it called “stark confirmation of the vicious U.S. agenda”: Police had detained a U.S. military official driving an “ammunition-laden vehicle” and “trading heavy weaponry.” The embassy retorted that the truck carried “equipment” used in Special Forces training, with the consent of authorities.

The Washington Post reporter naturally approached The Nation’s editor, Shireen Mazari, for comment. Naturally she asked for the points in writing, all the easier to then use them as the basis of a pre-emptive strike against the “biased” American media she wrote a fortnight ago.

To begin with, as we in Pakistan are only too well aware, The Washington Post has hardly been publishing “balanced” articles on Pakistan – in fact some have bordered on the hysterical in defaming the Pakistani state. One had thought this was due to ignorance or a lack of awareness of ground realities, but now that one knows there is actually a WP correspondent in Islamabad, clearly there is another agenda.

Now The Washington Post has published its story, I wonder whether there’ll be another instalment.

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