Round Up VII

03_12.gif » Bowing to The General’s pressure, UAE has shut down Geo TV transmissions from Dubai. Even though it was shut from cable, Pakistanis could catch Geo over satellite or the internet. Not any more. Prior to November 3rd, the people in Pakistan could enjoy news and analysis from Dawn News, Aaj, Geo, Ary One World, as well as BBC World, CNN and Al-Jazeera. They now have PTV – the state channel. The White House says they are “bothered.”

It is shameful that such a “progressive” and “capitalist-friendly” nation such as the United Arab Emirates has succumbed to the pressure from the Pakistan State. I can wager, though, that they didn’t need too much convincing. The role of media (TV and the internets) in the upheaval against the dictatorial regime in Pakistan cannot be stressed highly enough. It is not simply the fact that these channels have carried live footage of riots and police brutality since February 2007 into the living rooms of millions of Pakistanis. More pointedly, it is the sharply delineated public space that has emerged in news-analysis and commentary pieces since 2004. Al-Jazeera deserves tremendous credit for changing the face of media, and one of the seismic changes was in Pakistan. Sitting in the United States, with a TV media that is as fiercely scripted by market and ideological forces as anything the politburo could have imagined, it is hard to conceive of government officials, opposition folks, intellectuals and live call-ins mingling on the same stage. Often vehemently. UAE is protecting its own royal future.

Watch this broadcast on the attack on the Geo office in Islamabad on March 16th, 2007. The anchor Kamran Khan is speaking on the phone with the Minister (at 2:12): What are you doing? What are you doing, Mr. Minister? What is your goverment doing? These scenes are not just being seen in Pakistan but across the world, Mr. Muhammad Ali Durrani. You have spent your life in this country, have you ever seen such a spectacle? You are the minister of information and broadcasting, what will you do? Stay there and protect our workers.

Or just watch this, broadcast on AAJ tv on the program Bolta Pakistan (Pakistan Speaking):

I could never imagine even a portion of such critiques leveled at the politicians of this country on our TV channels.

» Nawaz Sharif has an op-ed in WaPo, Pakistan’s One-Man Calamity. Very Hemingwayesque. I would like to see Mian ji back in Pakistan and contesting with Bibi. Bhutto’s niece, Fatima Bhutto, had a piece in the LAT, Aunt Benazir’s false promises which is more Dorothy Parker than Hemingway. (Fatima Bhutto sadly failed to introduce “Auntie” to the American audience. Auntie Benazir. Not Aunt Benazir).

» No word yet on what Negroponte really said to The General.

Author: sepoy

what is the vertiginous chapati saying to me?

8 thoughts on “Round Up VII”

  1. Read the following and ponder thr real meaning of Negroponte Visist to Islamabad Negroponte’s Time In Honduras at Issue

    How Negroponte Changes the Ground Rules: A Salvador Option for Iraq?

    Negroponte’s Record in Honduras Does not Inspire Confidence About His

    Pentagon draws up plans for Pakistani fighting corps
    by Jim Mannion
    1 hour, 38 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Pentagon plans to train and equip an expanded paramilitary force in Pakistan’s tribal areas in a major effort to counter the growing strength of Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces, officials said Monday.


    US Army troops will be used to train the Pakistani Frontier Corps at a new center in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan, said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

    The efforts come amid political instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan under President Pervez Musharraf and mounting US concerns over the spread of Islamic militancy.

    It was unclear how many military trainers will be required, but any increase would significantly boost the US military presence in Pakistan, which currently numbers only about 50 military personnel, including embassy guards.

    It also marks a shift in favor of a locally recruited paramilitary force that many have considered unreliable because it is drawn from Pashtun tribes sympathetic to the Taliban.

    “We believe that, particularly in this part of Pakistan, it is more effective to work with a force raised from locals than it is to work with the Pak army,” Morrell said.

    The Pakistani army, he said, “is not viewed with the same kind of respect in that part of the country as is the Frontier Corps, which is comprised of people who know the language and who have grown up in the area, and have relations with tribal leaders there.”

    The Pentagon actually began investing in the Frontier Corps in fiscal year 2007, when the 80,000 member force was expanded by eight battalions and supplied with US helmets and vests, Morrell said.

    Plans call for the addition of four more battalions in fiscal year 2008, the establishment of joint Pakistani-Afghan surveillance stations along the border, and establishment of the joint training center.

    The Pakistani military will provide weapons and ammunition for the force, he said. But the US military will train the force and provide it non-lethal equipment, he said.

    “The Pakistani government is totally on board with this,” Morrell said.

    It was unclear how much the five year security program will cost, but Morrell said the Pentagon is seeking 97 million dollars for this fiscal year. It spent 52.6 million dollars on the force in fiscal 2007.

    The New York Times, which reported Monday on the Pentagon plans, put the cost for the Frontier Corps expansion at about 350 million dollars over several years.

    “Our initiatives this year will be to develop four new battalions, to establish headquarters for those battalions, (and) integrate those border surveillance centers,” Morrell said.

    He said it is not known how many US Army trainers will be available because they are in high demand. So the Pentagon is looking to use foreign military trainers as well, he said.

    US military training of the Pakistani military has been limited until now to air assault training, said Bryan Whitman, another Pentagon spokesman, who said US funding for that fell from 27 million in fiscal year 2006 to 5.3 million in fiscal 2007.

    Additionally, the US Special Operations Command is developing separate plans to increase the counter-terrorism cooperation with the Pakistani military and to boost their capabilities, Whitman said.

    But that has not yet been sent up the military chain of the command for approval, he said.

    The planning stems from a visit to Pakistan in August by Vice Admiral Eric Olson, the head of the command.

    It involved “capabilities that would help pursue the type of disruptive influences that are in Pakistan, without going into specifics,” Whitman said.

  2. Thanks for posting those clips. That really does give a taste for how the Pakistani media could throw down the gauntlet to the government.

    But its not just the government the media would grill. Recall there was the grilling given to Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi of the lal masjid by the ARY anchor the night his brother tried to escape by wearing a burqa.

    Sad to see that Geo and ARY are both off air, and that Aaj, while it is now back on air, has its main current affairs talk shows banned. I wonder if the last couple of years will be remembered as the Prague Spring of the Pakistani media?

  3. dubai’s khalej times offers this er, credible explnation of the shutdown of GEO News:

    “The closure of Dubai-based Pakistani TV channels — Geo News and ARY OneWorld — is in keeping with the UAE’s neutral foreign policy and the positive and constructive role it has played in international affairs, a top official of the country’s media regulatory authority has said.

    “Ibrahim Al Abed, Director-General of National Media Council, commenting on the closure of the TV channels by Dubai Media City said yesterday that neutrality has been a key principle of UAE’s foreign policy.

    “ ‘The UAE has been an advocate of international law and an active contributor to peace and stability in the region,’ he said.

    “He added that ‘in the light of the current sensitive state of affairs in Pakistan, the UAE can only assume its responsibility and maintain its neutrality’.

    “Al Abed reiterated that the closure of the two television stations is coherent with the foreign policy of the UAE.

    “Amina Al Rostamani, Executive Director of Dubai Media City, said: ‘As an entity within the UAE, Dubai Media City would also observe the broadcast principles of the country’s foreign policy and prevent the telecast of news and material that would undermine those principles.’ ”

    so there you haave it.
    tsk tsk tsk. all this idle talk of musharaf piling preassure on the dubia govt to shut GEO dwon. and it was all simply a matter of geo-political neutrality.

  4. Re The White House says they are “bothered.”

    Please sepoy next time you go on radios etc, make the connection that the theme of ‘Might is right’ currently being played in Islamabad is a cheaper version of the same played by Washington more openly since 9-11. The whole sript from pronouncements like “if you vote for opposition then terrorists win”, “if you challenge govt you are unpatriotic” etc is same.
    Benazir’s pic above is priceless. If lapata can come up with a visual showing this pic, Mullah Omar and a portrait of BB with dupata and Tasbeeh, that will be enough to prove to keen west that BB is a closet fundie

    You nawaz sharif is no Hemmingway, apologies to Ravians
    Being in 50s if BB is Auntie then be ready for “Uncle Sepoy”
    of more natively “Chacha Sepoy”

  5. I am interested in how the presence of international media has shaped the content of protests. A few days ago I saw footage of elderly bearded men dressed in shawar-kurta shouting on the CBC. I was surprised that they were protesting in English. That’s not to say that English is not widely used, or that I have not seen footage of protesters shouting in Urdu, but I wonder how the presence of international media shapes what gets said. “What do we want?–Freedom!” is sort of a standard in America, but perhaps not the English equivalent of “Murda-bad!” I wonder how much this affects the demeanor of protesters, the tone of protests, and also the police’s reactions.

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