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President Zardari vs. Jang Group: All Hail The Pakistani Commander-in-Chief

Posted by yourpakistan on April 8, 2011

By Ahmed Quraishi – PakNationalists

Imagine this: despite one of the world’s top five standing armies and nuclear arsenals, an important strategic location, 170 million in human resource, and great economic potential, and yet Pakistan’s elected democratic rulers are fighting a pitched battle with a media organization. Just a media organization.

This is what President Asif Ali Zardari, the commander-in-chief, is doing in his protracted, proxy battle with the Jang Group, Pakistan’s largest media conglomerate.

How pathetic that a President of such a big country feels threatened by a media group run by a few journalists. Media management is an art that has eluded Pakistan’s political and military rulers. They just don’t get it. So Mr. Zardari’s aides hound the media group in multiple ways: blocking federal government advertisements, ordering the state-run media to produce counter-programs to the popular political talk shows on Jang’s television network, and try to scuttle Jang’s exclusive rights to broadcast sporting events.

The latest move by President Zardari’s government is to shut down Geo Super’s broadcast rights in Pakistan, leaving this subsidiary of Jang’s Geo Network with the expensive option of beaming its programming from a location outside Pakistan.

None of the successive Pakistani governments, including the five governments of President Zardari’s US-backed PPPP, paid any attention to developing a healthy sports culture in the country. The entire Pakistani political and media cultures are structured to provide maximum coverage to boring, divisive and destructive politics. There are no government-maintained sports facilities for the general public anywhere across the length and breadth of this 170-million-plus nation. Those that exist are few, privately-owned, and exclusive.

In fact, you won’t believe it if I tell you that a tennis court next to a commercial market in the F-6 sector of Islamabad is probably the only public tennis facility of its kind anywhere not just in the federal Pakistani capital but also in any one of the five provincial/state capitals.

In other words, if any businessman were to launch a 24/7 sports channel in Pakistan, it would be a losing proposition. You can’t make money from sports in a country that has no sports on the ground. A few dying national sports teams in squash, football, hockey, cricket and others don’t count.

So Jang’s sports channel was a money drain. And now that’s gone too.

It probably won’t make a dent in the media’s group’s earnings, and the only victims might by the staff. As for the public, they are left with two options:

One, to watch the recycled faces of Pakistani politicians as they grace dozens of talk shows every night regaling the nation with their absurdities and bad manners, barring of course a distinguished few.

And two, to watch self-styled religious channels where very few truly respectable individuals exist, with proper religious education from renowned Islamic schools. The rest offer multicolored turbans and opinions. I have talked to respectable Egyptian and Saudi men of religion and they are embarrassed by what we in Pakistan have to contribute to religion.

No wonder ours is a fatalistic nation, where doom and gloom abounds and most people have nothing to do after a day’s work except watching political TV.

My advice to Jang Group is simple: hit back. Don’t take the closure of your sports channel lying down.

Jang, with its influential talk shows and newspapers, has a unique ability to influence Pakistani public opinion. What it should do is to DOWNGRADE all politicians affiliated with the ruling coalition and its partners. All of them.

Yes. Downgrade them. How? Simple.

It should stop making them heroes by rotating them on its different talk shows every night, giving them free publicity and valuable airtime. It should do what one of its hosts, Saleem Safi, has admirably done: minimize the appearance of politicians on his show unless relevant to the story of the day and substitute them with other more intelligent Pakistanis.

Only a fraction of the 1,000 or so elected Pakistani politicians bore us every night on TV. There are many Pakistanis who can talk politics with more sense and creativity than many of these elected nincompoops. [Remember this: in Pakistan, the lowest you are in the cultural and intellectual development ladder, the bigger your chances of being elected and becoming Pakistan’s newest ‘democratic warrior’.]

So good for you, Mr. President. Don’t let us interrupt you. Please continue your battle against the media group. We have already wasted the first decade of the 21st century. We have nine to go and we’ll manage that with this kind of ruling elite.


2 Responses to “President Zardari vs. Jang Group: All Hail The Pakistani Commander-in-Chief”

  1. infoaxis said

    Be fair with the nation.
    Government might be wrong but have anybody dared to expose the fortunes of JANG group, their links and the so-called specter of press freedom in Pakistan?
    Criticize the government, the Zardari clan and all the others who are downgrading Pakistan but please keep in mind the Jang group is the worst in the lot.
    Believe it or not they always undermine any formidable forces who can be a danger to Jang empire. Jang has no ethics and absolutely nothing to do with the PRESS freedom in Pakistan. It is just a MAFIA blackmailing the society at large in the name of Press freedom.
    If you want to serve the nation Ahmad, please research Privatization Commissions’s documents and you will be shocked how the Jang group undermined THE PAKISTAN TIMES, MASHRIQ, MORNING NEWS, IMROZE to get monopoly over the media in Pakistan.
    Now they are out to undermine PTV.
    On the one hand the survive on government revenue & on the other they blackmail the same governments. Let them go out in the field and generate revenues in an open competition & they will taste the real competition.
    Please at least don not promote the interests of a MEDIA MAFIA, who are self serving goons.

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