By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Although the story of US-based news organization “The Intercept” published under the title of “Secrete Pakistan Cable Documents U.S Pressure to Remove Imran Khan” has categorically been rejected by the Department of State of United States, however, this story is quite interesting and worth to read to know how one can establish a “story” out of nothing and by just “believing” instead of providing documentary proofs and pieces of evidence.
It is of course more than just a news item rather than an opinion as the story itself confirms that writers are not clear about the credibility of the document that is the base of the story and they just believe what they have written. For me, it is worth an example for assigning students of Journalism and Mass Communication to be conversant with the crafting of a propaganda piece.
The story starts with a para as:
“THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT encouraged the Pakistani government in a March 7, 2022, meeting to remove Imran Khan as prime minister over his neutrality on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a classified Pakistani government document obtained by The Intercept”.
Interestingly, the US Department of State has been denying this categorically since Imran Khan blamed the US for his removal. Moreover, the Spokesperson of the Department of State Matthew Miller again on August 8 (published on site on August 9) rejected this blame.
The Intercept story adds:
One month after the meeting with U.S. officials documented in the leaked Pakistani government document, a no-confidence vote was held in Parliament, leading to Khan’s removal from power. The vote is believed to have been organized with the backing of Pakistan’s powerful military.
Using the diction of “is believed”, writers take no responsibility for the credibility and make this news story rather an opinion piece. Yes, they can have reasons to believe or they can believe whatever they wish to believe but they have not provided credible and tangible data that why they have such beliefs.
The story goes on as:
The document was provided to The Intercept by an anonymous source in the Pakistani military who said that they had no ties to Imran Khan or Khan’s party. The Intercept is publishing the body of the cable below, correcting minor typos in the text because such details can be used to watermark documents and track their dissemination.
Writers say that the document was provided by an “anonymous source” and then suddenly indicate “in the Pakistani military”. If they know the source is/was from the “Pakistani military” then this source cannot be called “anonymous”.
Asked about quotes from Lu in the Pakistani cable, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said, “Nothing in these purported comments shows the United States taking a position on who the leader of Pakistan should be.” Miller said he would not comment on private diplomatic discussions.
However, responding to the question Miller said “Even if that comment was accurate as quoted they will in no way shows the united states taking a position Nothing in these purported comments shows the United States taking a position on who the leader of Pakistan should be. Writers may forget to add “Even those comment was accurate as quoted”. By not adding the previous line, writers categorically changed the sense of what Miller said.
The story adds:
In the cable, the U.S. objects to Khan’s foreign policy on the Ukraine war. Those positions were quickly reversed after his removal, which was followed, as promised in the meeting, by a warming between the U.S. and Pakistan.
How can writers say that “Those positions were quickly reversed after his removal” because Pakistan despite the economic strangulation of Russia through Western sanctions is buying wheat as well as natural gas and fuel from Russia during all 16 months of post-Imran Khan’s departure from office? It may be mentioned that Imran Khan’s government did not start wheat, gas, and fuel imports from Russia but the next government that was of PDM initiated these imports.
Interestingly the Intercept itself accepts that US authorities have rejected Khan’s propaganda since the day he launched it for his domestic gains. The story continues as:
State Department again denied the charge throughout June and July, at least three times in press conferences and again in a speech by a deputy assistant secretary of state for Pakistan, who referred to the claims as “propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation.” On the latest occasion, Miller, the State Department spokesperson, ridiculed the question. “I feel like I need to bring just a sign that I can hold up in response to this question and say that that allegation is not true,” Miller said, laughing and drawing cackles from the press. “I don’t know how many times I can say it. … The United States does not have a position on one political candidate or party versus another in Pakistan or any other country.”
Is it not interesting to take a position against the US response, the government of Pakistan’s position, and even an explanation of Pakistan bureaucrats, and without having the credibility of the document in hand, the writers are compellingly following and writing what they “believe”? Is it not s new diction in US journalism to build a case and call it a story just the writers have reasons to “believe” while not providing any proof of allegations against state institutions?
The most interesting part of the piece is:
In recent months, the military-led government cracked down not just on dissidents but also on suspected leakers inside its own institutions, passing a law last week that authorizes warrantless searches and lengthy jail terms for whistleblowers. Shaken by the public display of support for Khan — expressed in a series of mass protests and riots this May — the military has also enshrined authoritarian powers for itself that drastically reduce civil liberties, criminalize criticism of the military, expand the institution’s already expansive role in the country’s economy, and give military leaders a permanent veto over political and civil affairs.
Was the PDM government run by any military man or had the PDM cabinet retired or serving military men as claimed by writers while stating that “the military-led government “?
One of the best comments that I enjoyed in the story was:
“Shaken by the public display of support for Khan”. I think writers should contact families of PTI cult followers whose children are in jail and ask them who is shaken. –the state or PTI and its followers who vandalized military installations and even monuments of martyrs.
I am of the view that the Intercept has the known name of Indian-origin Sumi Aggarwal as the Chief Strategy Officer and an investigative reporter and editor should review what it has published under the titled “Secrete Pakistan Cable Documents U.S Pressure to Remove Imran Khan” because a piece is loaded with adjectives, having no credibility of document it is providing as base-document and contradicting itself by adding that US, as well as Pakistani authorities, have been rejecting allegations of Imran Khan from the very day he raised them. Moreover, Khan himself had been shifting his pools and ever-changing blame for the alleged “conspiracy” first from the US, then former chief of military Gen Qamar Bajwa, then blaming chief minister Punjab Mohsan Naqvi for his removal.
For ready reference of readers, questions/answer about this issue are added as follows as well as a video of answers so that it would be more helpful for readers to understand the credulity of the piece under discussion.
Qs/As are hereunder:
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Jahanzaib Ali from ARY News. A couple of days ago, on the arrest of Imran Khan, you said there are cases that are so obviously unfounded that the United States believes it should say something about the matter, and the U.S. has not made that determination in this case. So what is it in Khan’s case that makes you think it is not unfounded? What criteria do you use to make that determination, if it is a founded or unfounded case?
MR MILLER: I will just say that we continue to believe that these are matters for the Pakistani people to decide. Our bottom-line principle is that we continue to call for the respect of democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law in Pakistan, as we do around the world.
QUESTION: So Pakistani Ambassador Masood Khan called on the U.S. to engage more closely with Pakistan, as it continues to grapple with a host of threats including last week’s suicide bombing that killed at least 63 people. How can U.S. can help Pakistan counter the ongoing terrorism threat to the region that threatens both U.S. economic and security interests in the region?
MR MILLER: So we deeply value our relationship with Pakistan, including our relationship with respect to counterterrorism. We have supported Pakistan through a number of pieces of assistance to help with counterterrorism, with other law enforcement activities, and we’ll continue to do so.
QUESTION: So one last question, if you allow me. What is the U.S. role in tamping down terrorism in the region after 20 years of war in Afghanistan?
MR MILLER: I’ll just say, as I said, we continue to support Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations.
Go ahead, you’re next.
QUESTION: Thank you so much. We have seen ups and downs in U.S.-Pakistan relations in recent past. What kind of confidence-building measures are being taken to avoid mistrust between these two countries? My second question is there is upcoming elections in Pakistan, we already spoke few days ago – will U.S. sending a independent observer to monitor the general elections in Pakistan?
MR MILLER: I’m not aware if a decision has been made with respect to sending observers. With respect to your first question, we will continue to engage directly with the Pakistani Government, as we do at a number of different levels. And we will continue to engage in people-to-people contacts with Pakistan, who we consider a close partner.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.