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The DAWN Gate : Corporate Media Interests vs National Interest

Atta Rasool Malik

Recently, I have witnessed an unprecedented level of confidence in Pakistan Army high command to take on India after rhetoric of so called ‘surgical strikes’. People in the helm of affairs of Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force appeared to be very clear in regards to what and where to strike in case of any real attempt of a surgical strike by India. One of the Pakistani formation commander said’ “Yes. India has capability to carryout surgical strike in Pakistan but then we will not let it go. We will respond and will not care whether it is short or long war.” He further added, “Our narrative during Kargil war was faulty that Mujaheedin had crossed the LoC and the Army had nothing to do with them. Resultantly, Indians kept pounding artillery shells on our posts like peace time drill and didn’t get desired bleeding as coordinated response from Pakistan Armed forces was missing. Then our coordination with Pakistan Air Force was also missing. Now those details have been sorted out.” Thanks to TTP (foreign funded and sponsored Taliban) that Pakistan Military today, is fully trained, mobilized and in good coordination. I whispered.
We, the veterans, were rejoicing a course get-together on a weekend. I could see the shine in the eyes of our serving mates. DGMI was seen particularly happy with wide mysterious smile but not sharing anything. One of his close friends then told me that nowadays, he is in good books of the COAS. He has succeeded in placing a mole in high aids of Mr. Modi and has some leaks from Indian PM’s secret meeting held few days earlier. The piece of information was related to difference of opinion and few serious apprehensions of Indian top military brass and their political leadership. It definitely was their top secret. Due to triumphant mood and lavish dinner, I over ate and slept the next day till 11 o’clock.
Next morning saw the Newspaper, I was surprised to read “Dawn” Cyral Almaeda’s article. Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military. Almaeda, a seasoned author; how could he write and how a leading newspaper could publish such a story even if it was true. Who could encourage the author to disclose a highly confidential and official issue, what could be the real motive of defaming own military and premier spy agency, was someone trying to ditch Shahbaz Sharif whose comments had been exaggerated as a family feud because Mr. Shahbaz Sharif is famous for serving as a bridge between civil-military high ups?
How the government would be benefited if Indian narrative is braced that Pakistan has rouge army and patronizing terrorist groups? I wondered. I found sickening similarity between a high profile own mole in India with a leading Newspaper, DAWN in Pakistan. There is to be a limit to greed, i thought. I was wondering why People don’t learn from Iraq, Syria, and Libya? How can any Pakistanis trust India under BJP? Pakistan was dismembered in 1971. India even today is openly threatening to separate Baluchistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. How credible and trust worthy is shining India and its “Aman ki Asha”?. Why can’t we see the plight of Muslim community living in India or learn from Indian atrocities in Kashmir. What other evidence do we require to understand blessing of Pakistan and then value of its armed forces?
In the aforesaid article establishment is blamed for not acting against characters like Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Azhar Masood, the so called accused Ex Jehadi of Kashmir and Afghanistan. When I was serving in the Army at Peshawar in 1988, there were lot of discussions that how veterans of Afghan Jehad could be rehabilitated or retired in wake of their U.S abandonment. There were copious suggestions which weren’t given due ear by then ruling government. Had those Mujaheedin been honorably rehabilitated, who were later twisted by our adversaries; we would not have lost thousands of innocent lives and billions of dollars in combating those strayed veterans.
Again, we are being forced to repeat the same mistake by some pseudo intellectuals. Why there is a demand to arrest Hafiz Saeed and Azhar Masood by some ultra-liberals in political gab? What wrong Hafiz Saeed or Azhar Masood has done here in Pakistan or India? Highest courts of Pakistan have already acquitted them. If the Indians have any proof it should be presented to the Pakistani courts and they be tried accordingly. Why military establishment should arrest and hang people only because they have somehow become the symbol of resistance to westernization and Indian hegemony in the region? Why should Pakistan Army run after all practicing Muslims? Can we please each and everyone in the world suffering from Islamophobia?
Liberals wish scarf or Burkini free girls on the beaches in France and enforce to support gay marriages, something absolutely unacceptable in our eastern society. Pakistan is a sovereign state and its people love and firmly believe in own culture, values and religion. Why someone should push peaceful and unarmed religious people also running highly credible and effective NGOs with huge followings to pick up arms against the state of Pakistan? Should State of Pakistan only introduce NRO and pardon economic terrorists of political origin? Why commoners like angry Baloch, misled youth of MQM and U.S backed Ex Jehadis be not pardoned and brought to main stream?
Long ago Pakistan had buried the policy of proxy war as instrument of state policy. Would India also listen? India lost few soldiers at Uri by its own false flag and Moodi is considered “under immense political pressure” to launch surgical strikes across ‘LoC’. Why PM of Pakistan is not under public pressure when we have our children massacred at APS Peshawar and hundreds of advocates perish in Quetta by RAW saboteurs?
Cyril Almaeda instead highlighting the will of Pakistani nation and its armed forces in support of Kashmiri people has projected a non-issue. He too is in fact a spoiled kid of the past military establishment now picked up by a group of political opportunists. He was among the few journalists who had access to GHQ during time of General Kiyani. He is the man who has been inviting Martial Law while Mr. Zardari was in chair. It is my analysis that our spy agencies, too often bid on the wrong horse. The prime spy agency could establish its own independent mouthpiece to release desired information and should not be too sensitive if few articles are published in opposition. It should be confident of its own right doing because actions speak louder than words. ISI is widely considered the savior of Pakistan.
The intelligence agency is not a political party and if it insists to behave like that and concerned about its popularity graph then someone should tell General Raheel and General Rizwan that you basically thrive in the hearts of people who don’t care for an odd English newspaper. Pakistani Politicians have yet to understand governance and public service. They aren’t Erodogan. Trucks of 111 Brigade will still be welcomed in Islamabad by masses but that is not the solution. So stay behind and steer the country to transparency, merit and prosperity but foremost task being security both internal and external.
Vast majority of Pakistan Army officers want their parent organization to stay clear of politics. However, none want the civil government to mess with Army and injure its pride. It is the pride, the ultimate asset of soldiers which prepares them to lay their lives for safety and security of their motherland. Pakistan Army and ISI must remain focused across the border and defeat evil designs of RAW and its ilk. That is the nation’s main concern and ambition. However, for internal issues like the one in question, ISI should neither waste time nor energy. Rouge elements like Cyril Almaeda and Chief Editor of Dawn can also quite legally be served with a cup of tea in some official guest room for a few days. What good is Official Secrets Act after all?. Hopefully, a professional interrogator should be able to get the true story out along with its source in an hour or so.


The author holds an M Phil International Relations from National Defence University Islamabad and is currently perusing his PhD. He can be reached at: