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wednesday, 21 december, 2011

Comment 13

on the Envoys Conference

How to kill journalists

What was missed out?

A step-by-step pocket guide

By Shaukat Umer


ever was a meeting of Pakistani Ambassadors, an otherwise routine affair, given so much publicity as the one held earlier this month. The moot was presented as a seminal event in this country’s diplomatic history as if its decisions portended to impact critically on the direction of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The initial impression that this may indeed turn out to be true, preceded and accompanied as the event was by uncharacteristic hype, dissipated when details of its deliberations filtered into the media. The real issues, it seems, were left unattended. The participants, as widely reported in the media, called for the renegotiation of two important agreements signed between the Pakistani government and NATO and the United States. The first allowed the use of our territory for the transfer of supplies to Afghanistan and the second pertained to the provision of logistical support to the Americans in their war effort against Afghan bred terror. Pakistan is fully within its right to review these agreements yet some points are noteworthy. The agreements were made in the context of a broader strategic calculus. Suspension of NATO supplies, closure of the Shamsi airbase, retaliation in self defence are tactical measures but how do these relate to the bigger picture. What role Pakistan envisages for itself in the emerging regional scenario in which economic and energy linkages are considered pivotal? Would it be in our national interest to be a part of this arrangement and accordingly adjust our policies in the region or should

we impede its realization. Are alternatives available and of what kind? Revisiting operational arrangements is fine but the exercise, to be meaningful, needs to be conducted within a strategic framework, which should have been defined first. It was recommended that Pakistan should organise its foreign relations on principles of equality and mutual respect. Yes, but how? It is axiomatic that economic dependency diminishes national sovereignty. The Pakistani economy, as the consensus amongst our economists suggests, is in the throes of a serious crisis likely to be compounded by the recent Congressional decision to provisionally suspend 700 million dollars in economic assistance. The European Union, possibly on a nod from Washington, continues to procrastinate on our application for GSP plus concessions. Dying foreign investment, widening trade deficits, galloping inflation, rising unemployment and collapsing state enterprises do not provide an ideal basis for staking a claim for a position of equality in the comity of nations. A unique opportunity for underlining the vast disconnect between our external policies and economic performance, mandating concomitant adjustments on both counts, was allowed to pass. For the past several months Pakistani officials and analysts, including the undersigned, have urged that durable peace in Afghanistan requires Pakistan’s full involvement in the Afghan endgame. Obviously the Americans have not been listening. Reports of direct US engagement with the Taliban, including Mullah Omar’s emissaries, have surfaced sporadically. Recently, it has come to light that negotiations between the two have been going on for nearly a year in Germany and Qatar. Reportedly six rounds of talks have produced hopeful results with both sides now poised to address hard issues. Apparently, even the Afghan leadership was kept in the dark prompting Karzai to consider recalling his ambassador from Doha which is believed to have offered to host

a Taliban office. Evaluating Pakistan’s stance on these talks should have been an issue of immediate interest for the envoys. Should we support or obstruct this initiative? How should we use our influence with some Taliban factions in regard to these negotiations? An objective analysis of the pros and cons of Pakistan’s choices would have been an immensely useful input from the conference. It was suggested that irrespective of the US approach, which was deemed to be disinterested in reconciliation, Pakistan should reach out to Europe to advance the peace process. In short, reconciliation is to be sought in partnership with marginal actors on the Afghan scene to the exclusion of a country which maintains over a hundred thousand troops in Afghanistan and has spent close to half a trillion dollars in the war effort. At least the envoys based in western capitals should have known that no European country would ever contemplate teaming up with Pakistan in the Afghan end game contrary to US interests. Unpleasant realities need to be confronted and addressed, not glossed over. Revisiting these agreements is timely and given the turn of events, necessary. However, the outcome of these reviews would be meaningful only when conducted within an overall strategic context in which Pakistan’s regional objectives are clearly defined consistent with ground realities, domestic and external. The Parliamentary Committee on National Security will now deliberate on the recommendations of the envoys. It is hoped that the depositories of public trust will not hesitate to take up these crucial matters and give a clear direction to the nation in these troubled and confusing times. Chartering an unsustainable course may well land us irretrievably on the wrong side of history. The writer is Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United Nations and European Union. He can be contacted at


nderson Cooper was beaten up by proHosni Mubarak men while covering the uprising in Egypt earlier this year. Moammar Gaddafi’s men shot at Geraldo Rivera who was covering the violence in Libya. Pakistan’s Talat Hussain was detained by Israeli soldiers in 2010. Incidents like these highlight the positive side of violence against journalists. After a recent surge in conferences and publications on the safety of journalists, it is imperative that independent nations of the world join hands to counter this socialist/imperialist propaganda, and equip patriotic forces in our countries with information that may help them maintain order in the society. The following is a step-by-step pocket guide for armed organisations in the third world on how to safely kill journalists and maintain peace in their country: 1. The first thing an organised or irregular force needs in order to maintain peace in a country, is a country. There are several ways to obtain a country. The most successful one is to leave the task to politicians and wait until they die. Dead politicians are extremely agreeable and can support a myriad of ideologies to address both short-term tactical goals and long-term strategic concerns. And that takes us to our next step. 2. Create an enemy. While it is extremely useful to have one or more enemy countries By Harris Bin Munawar directly adjacent, a successful security strategy requires enemies all over the world, as many as possible, who constantly collaborate to conspire against you. Declare your country a fortress of an endangered civilisation, religion, or value system. 3. Create a security strategy. Make sure your key security interests are in other people’s countries. Link the safety and security of your people and the existence and independence of your country to other countries’ domestic politics. Then interfere as explained in the following step. 4. Arm civilians to fight the enemy. Soldiers are not meant to fight, except in extraordinary situations. They are meant to train and support irregular forces, and help them infiltrate into enemy countries where they must fight your war, preferably targeting civilians. 5. Deny. Do express openly your security interests in other countries, and prom-

Man bites Dog

ise moral and diplomatic support to the irregulars you are backing, but completely deny that you arm or fund them. Repeat the denials on all communication channels to an extent that even the families and friends of your recruits start to become confused. For working examples of the above steps, please see Appendix A – Pakistan, and Appendix B – the United States of America. 6. Create a national consensus around that denial. It is pertinent to mention here that not all journalists are enemies. There are two kinds of journalists, the good journalists and the bad journalists. It is imperative to negotiate with the good journalists and get them on your side. With their help, simulate a consensus among the people of your country. Tell everyone that everyone else thinks like you, so they should too. If someone does not comply, use the good journalists to associate them with one or all of the enemies. 7. Like all good medicine, this approach may also lead to some undesired consequences. One annoyance, of very little significance, is that some of these armed groups may target your own people or assets. Similarly, some miscreants may feel threatened by the peace that you are bringing, and selfishly pick up arms against you. A successful security strategy would involve blaming these domestic problems on one or more external enemies. 8. In such situations, cunning and opportunist bad journalists will take advantage of your problems and write reports that will hurt the peaceful and tranquil domestic atmosphere as well as your security interests abroad. As previously stated, a soldier’s job is not to fight, except in extraordinary situations. Most fights should be fought through patriotic groups that support you – in this case, the good journalists. Declare the bad journalists agents of one or more enemies, and ensure that they stay out of public debate on important issues, especially those pertaining to security. 9. If peaceful methods do not work, seek help of your other patriotic friends – the armed groups that you support – for a more stern warning. Peacefully abduct the journalists and gently beat them up. For a more lasting impact, shave their heads and eyebrows. Investigate if any ransom can be collected for their release, so that it can be spent on the welfare of the people. Otherwise throw them off a moving vehicle. In case peaceful measures do not work or are not likely to work, move to step 10. 10. Kill the journalist. The writer is a media and culture critic and works at The Friday Times. He tweets @paagalinsaan and gets email at

E-paper Pakistantoday LHR 21st December, 2011  


E-paper Pakistantoday LHR 21st December, 2011