17
September

INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL THREATS -DO MEDIA MATTER?

Written By: Javed Jabbar

Media should desist from providing the kind of coverage which terrorists and extremists cherish. For instance, frequent and continuous coverage of barbaric killers brandishing weapons, particularly shown repeatedly in “loops” during news bulletins and talk-shows to illustrate their presence. Without intending to do so, TV news channels end up lending a kind of perverse glamour to these savages with potentially terrible influence on tender and impressionable minds, almost being seen by some as role models who are given so much attention by media.
To combat internal and external threats in a purposeful way, media, individually and collectively should help build a new narrative for public discourse. Such a new narrative should espouse pluralism, diversity, freedom of responsible and well-informed expression, not uniformity and a forced compliance with official or non-official versions of reality. Those readers who wish to skip the dubious privilege of reading the whole text of this reflection are well-advised to take a gentle leap to the concluding paragraphs for a response as uncertain as the implications of the question posed in the title. For the unwise, let us proceed in search of the route to a potential answer. Due to the enormous differences in the nature, the variety and the numbers of media; due to the predominantly private, independent status of the ownership of hundreds of media and the news and opinions they project; due to the scope for differing interpretations – which could be equally sincere even if they are at variance with official views – of the actual internal and external threats, the role of media in this context is variable and volatile, not singular and similar. Unlike coverage of sports, music, drama and mundane, day-to-day events, the coverage of aspects of internal and external threats requires a comprehensive appreciation of multiple factors. These include the inter-dependency of some or all of such multiple factors, a recognition of historical determinants, contemporary cross-currents, national, regional and global dimensions of these threats, and their repercussions for the future of Pakistan. Unlike the pre-occupation of the news media with the immediate, the visible and the audible, the approach to confronting internal and external threats has to identify what is truly important, what is not necessarily fully or partially visible, or even audible, or indeed silent. These attributes of threats qualities do not normally attract the relatively narrow focus of event-centric news media. Non-news media such as cinema feature films, educative special interest media that focus on subjects such as nature, science, history and entertainment, are also relevant. Subtly, by degrees, or even openly and explicitly, without being restricted by the immediacy of news events, such general media can integrate into their content facets of threats that deserve the attention of their respective audiences either on a permanent, long-term basis or periodically. Such general media do project material related to threats. Diversity and Númerosity of Media The diversity of media determines the basics of reach. The human sensory faculties that each medium requires has a bearing on how the content is received. To begin with, silent, wholly visual media such as posters, wall-chalkings, leaflets, still photographs are self-explanatory (sometimes selective and confusing but so obviously in-your-face) require only the eyes to create messages within the mind. At the next level, there come printed newspapers, magazines and books which require literacy and a modicum of education to comprehend non-visual content. Even though radio is universal and transcends geography and distance with sound alone, knowledge of the dialect and language being spoken is essential to absorb the content by voice alone. In an age in which TV has regrettably become the dominant mass medium requires, on the face of it, the least mental effort. TV viewers are like virtual zombies. They are fed, especially by news media, with a mind-numbing combination of moving picture, sound, frequent breaks, distractions and diversions to make the sensational into the significant and to push the substantial to the sidelines. Cinema films, specially those which oblige the viewer to physically remove themselves from their immediate homes or offices and become part of a socially shared experience in a darkened auditorium (as distinct from cinema films seen on DVDs on a TV screen at home), compensate for the spoon-feeding combination of moving picture and sound normally offered by TV. Cinema theatres require a crucial aspect of inter-action with others and with the inherently deeper scope that the cinema medium offers compared to TV, the mind is freer to reflect and to accept by conscious choice rather than by the brain-washing conducted by TV, such as on a person strapped into a chair by force! Of course, without physical straps, a TV viewer can always switch-off the TV set and be liberated from the menace just as a cinema viewer in a theatre can simply walk out of a hall. But all things considered, the cinema medium in either fictional feature-length form or in fact-based documentaries is a distinct and potentially superior medium to TV. No wonder TV channels rely so heavily on cinema films ! Books with their profound silence remain the single-most ideal form of conveying and possibly absorbing content that is most pertinent to aspects of internal and external threats. No voice, sound, picture, advertisements and mid-breaks intrude and disrupt the connection between the writer and the reader, between the message and the audience. One is referring here to readable, credible books based on serious research or springing from genuine talent and expressed in language with clarity and respect for the intelligence of the reader, not couched in predictable terms and phrases but offering something new and engaging for the reader. The fact that in Pakistan many even well-educated Pakistanis, some of them occupying the highest public offices, civil and military, do not appear to be regular readers of books and are never photographed sitting in a library while reading a book (!) does not reduce the relevance and importance of books as an essential medium to convey messages on internal and external threats. When we consider the private and independently-owned nature of media and alongwith this, the content of such media conveyed by either their own full-time staff or by freelance contributors, the first feature that requires note is whether the media in question are owned by individuals or organizations that are exclusively dependent on media alone for their livelihoods. Or whether the elements that own one mass medium e.g. newspapers also own TV channels, FM radio stations, etc. If they do so then their cross-media ownership interests have an impact on the content of the different media within the same group. For instance, the newspaper of a multi-media group will rarely, or never ever, make a critical or adverse comment about the content of a TV channel owned by the same group. Indeed, the same newspaper will publish every single day, sizeable advertisements promoting the programmes of the TV channel or FM radio stations owned by the same. When owners of media are also owners or major shareholders of enterprises in other sectors e.g. cement, sugar, paper, chemicals, imports, exports, etc. then such cross-sectoral interests often shape the news and editorial policies of the media owned by the same elements. Thus, presentation of material that is in the vital public interest regarding say, a specific economic threat to the country that may exist in a particular industrial or commercial policy of the state is unlikely to be covered in that cross-sectoral media ownership context because of the conflict-of-interest, not because of disloyalty to the country. To some extent, the unhealthy aspects of the narrow interests of some media owners is offset by the content contributed to media by freelance, external persons who have their own individual perspectives to offer, unaffected by the material interests of media ownership. However, here too, except in some cases, a media outlet tends to offer its space and time to only those freelance, external contributors who are in general tandem with the owners' own policies. As most media owners tend to be, either de facto or de jure, owners as well as editors/content-controllers, it is only in one or two instances where Editors/content-controllers are empowered to be independent of their employers' own interests or views in projecting content. Billions of New Media With the advent of the Internet in the past 15 years and the exponential growth in the use of cell-phones and smart phones that bring all media into the palm of a human hand at the touch of a button, social media represent an entirely new phenomenon in relation to the subject of this comment. While the conventional media are a large part of the content of social media, be this through 'You Tube' websites of traditional media, music, etc., individually-generated content on a mass scale has created an unprecedented scope for information, misinformation, disinformation with regard to internal and external threats. Through blogs, through the websites of hate-mongering outfits and violence promoting criminals, through the hazards of hackers and the cacophonous noise of a million analysts on every single subject, the presentation of material about internal and external threats in a calm, coherent, reasoned form of communication and of mutually respectful dialogue on subjects as sober as internal and external threats has become a formidable challenge, responses to which are neither instant, nor easy nor conclusive. We will have to learn as we proceed. Wide Range of Threats Internal and external threats are also as varied as are media! The intricacies of media are matched by the complexity of such threats. Within the territorial frontiers of Pakistan in 2014, we face the poison of sectarian extremism, religious extremism and intolerance by some of non-Muslims; the indiscriminate, destructive acts of terrorism; attempts by some elements to advocate secession from Pakistan; criminal mafias that deal with theft of land, water, public property and indulge in conduct of smuggling; production and sale of counterfeit goods e.g. medicines, or drugs and narcotics; easy and mass availability of lethal weapons, with and without arms licenses. Keeping in step with this sordid array of internal demons, and while being both the causes and the results of other flaws such as nepotism, corruption, mis-governance, misuse of democratic systems to perpetuate self-interest make for a pernicious spectacle of looming threats. There is then the harsh reality of mass poverty, deprivation, hardship and injustice suffered by tens of millions of the disadvantaged people of our country. The pain and the oppression imposed on women, their high rates of maternal mortality, the disturbing rates of infant mortality and of stunted children due to malnutrition: these are acidic burns on the complexion of our society and embody, along with the shoddy condition of the majority of government schools, the most insidious internal threat to our security and stability. Is it tragi-comic that in the realm of religion there is lack of consensus in society, leave alone media, about the unreligious insanity of faith-based extremism? Take, for example, the reaction to the assassination of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab who simply called for revising the blasphemy laws to make them more harmonious with the compassionate and tolerant fundamentals of Islam itself. When his own guard cold-bloodedly shot him, the reaction of large numbers was more supportive of the callous, ignorant, misguided fanatic than of the caring, well-educated and progressive Governor. Two terrible signs of how widespread is this virulent form of threat became evident when a former Chief Justice of the Punjab High Court volunteered to defend the killer and lawyers and others showered flowers and praise on the criminal. Such conduct changed this danger more into a popular treat rather than a threat to the mass! As a society and state, we are regrettably not content with declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. Some elements, often with the silent support of the police and many others, wilfully attack the homes of Ahmadis in which human beings are still alive as well as even the graveyards of Ahmadis to desecrate the dignity of the dead. Despite the fact that 97% of our population is Muslim, we have yet to address all the legitimate concerns for the safety and the rights of the small 3% of our population. The majoritarian mind-set of the 97% pervades the mind-set of the media, with only a few notable exceptions. Both media and many parts of society pay lip-service to non-Muslims in Pakistan but in practice, render little service to them. Media should desist from providing the kind of coverage which terrorists and extremists cherish. For instance, frequent and continuous coverage of barbaric killers brandishing weapons, particularly shown repeatedly in “loops” during news bulletins and talk-shows to illustrate their presence. Without intending to do so, TV news channels end up lending a kind of perverse glamour to these savages with potentially terrible influence on tender and impressionable minds, almost being seen by some as role models who are given so much attention by media. In the zeal with which most media and some segments of society support democracy and the rightful claim of the civil, elected, political process to be the pivotal force in Pakistan, there is a tendency to tolerate widespread corruption, particularly by individuals at the highest levels of the state and the political party leaderships on the ground that because corruption is a timeless universal human malaise, it is more important to simply ensure the continuity of democracy and the regularity of elections rather than to enforce impartial, even ruthless accountability across the board. The state of the economy, its level of productivity, competitiveness, capacity to offer gainful employment to the millions of youth entering the labour force each year, the confidence, or rather the lack of it of the country's own investors in their own economy, the flight of capital, the value of currency, the equity or inequity in the distribution of fair opportunities and of wealth, the willingness of citizens to pay due taxes instead of starving the state of revenue (and then whining about the State's failure to meet all the needs of citizens): singly, partly or holistically together, the economic threat is also inter-twined with external economic factors such as aid, loans, sanctions, credit ratings et al. Perhaps the most corrosive internal threat, which is also part of a larger planetary crisis, is the way in which we ravage, degrade and despoil our natural environment in the pursuit of development and progress. Our soil, our land, our forests, our water, our air, the myriad species of flora and fauna, the depredation of receding mangroves, our imbalanced growth of population this disregards for the beautiful bounties and balance of nature becomes the backdrop for the pollution and contamination of the built environment that we construct. External Threats Comparatively Less External threats to Pakistan are well-known. Commencing with a large hostile neighbour to the East which is reported to still deploy 70% of its Armed Forces in a Pakistan specific direction, even though it claims to aspire for a regional and global power status, the threat covers the LoC in Kashmir and the possible adverse fall-out from the unresolved disputes of Kashmir, Siachin, Sir Creek and differences on interpretation of the Indus Water Treaty. But India is not confined to the East alone. Indian ambitions in Afghanistan remain a valid source of concern for Pakistan, given both history and the present. Then, the only Member-State of the United Nations which opposed the application of Pakistan for membership of the UN in August 1947 (but later, fortunately, withdrew it in November 1947) remains 67 years later in 2014, the source of refugees burdening our own resources (now for over 30 years !), periodic border conflicts, potential after-affects of the NATO withdrawal post-2014. External media also represent a form of external threat to Pakistan. At one extreme are the xenophobic, chauvinistic Indian media which thrive on demonizing Pakistan: in contrast to the large-hearted Pakistani people who continue to view Indian Bollywood cinema both in Pakistani cinema theatres and on TV channels. In general, overseas media, be they national in scale or global in their reach such as BBC, CNN, The New York Times, etc. reflect a covert, if not explicit biase against Pakistan. Almost every single foreigner whom this writer has met and who has visited Pakistan for the first time says with wonder: “how different, and how much better is your country than how it is portrayed by our media!” Which says as much about the bias of external media as it does about how little we ourselves have done to correct this negative image, to improve our internal conditions and to invest hard-cash and human resources in building a more positive perception for Pakistan across the globe. External with Internal Extensions Another form of threat that combines an external source with an internal ally is in the area of soft subversion, as distinct from the sponsorship of internal extremism by even countries friendly with Pakistan, and terrorism by countries hostile to Pakistan. This combination results in individuals, and in some cases organizations becoming the “assets” of certain countries that want to promote their own ideology or interest inside Pakistan without being visibly seen to do so. Such actions can include financial aid and encouragement of religious seminaries, madrassas and outfits that indoctrinate both youth and adults to adopt a narrow, exclusivist, “I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong” attitude and consequent actions of intolerance, hatred and even violence. But also in this category are some members of civil society, journalists, writers and others who have the ability to shape public opinion. Only a handful, or as one would like to think, none of them consciously and willingly become the de facto spokespersons for countries hostile to Pakistan. Possibly inadvertently, unintentionally by their un-relenting criticism of certain institutions e.g. the unfortunate interventions by the Armed Forces into the political domain, the role of intelligence agencies etc., there remains little difference between what they claim to be the truth and what is said or published in media and in countries patently hostile to Pakistan. One must underline a note of caution in this particular respect. And this is to discourage and condemn the tendency to suspect every critic of some aspects of the Armed Forces to be anti-Pakistan or to be an agent of a foreign power. Many critics of the political role of our Armed Forces and the intelligence agencies are sincerely motivated by the best interests of their beloved country. It is only coincidental that their views coincide with the views of elements hostile to Pakistan. Only hard, verified intelligence should be the basis to identify who are consciously working for the soft assets of alien forces to become a fusion of both internal and external threats. Consensus – Not Always Possible On an overall basis, more consensus is likely within the country on the reality and the specificality of external threats rather than a consensus on internal threats and how media can play a corrective role. But in external threats as well there is a diversity of perceptions. For instance, there are some who believe that the doctrine of strategic depth applied by Pakistan to its relations with Afghanistan is completely mis-founded. Whereas due to both geographical, historical and due to ethnic, linguistic proximity and affinity, as also to sheer strategic military considerations, there is a degree of justification of the strategic depth doctrine as long as it does not violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. Almost every nation-state with demarcated frontiers has to be concerned about its immediate neighbours, about whether in times of stress and threat, such neighbours can be a reliable source of support and sympathy. Regrettably, sometimes some content of the media dismisses the strategic depth doctrine as merely the selfish aspirations of the Pakistani military. There is also a lack of consensus in another aspect of external threats. With regard to increasing trade with India, one view is that if we allow trade to grow quickly with India there will be more incentive for India to become more reasonable on a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute. Whereas the other, well-founded view is that trade should be tightly-graded and only gradually, incrementally advanced in direct relation to actual steps taken by India to reduce its oppression of Kashmir through its huge military presence in the Valley and to conduct purposeful dialogue with Pakistan. Media reflect this divide which may or may not be a bad thing! Except where media unduly promote one choice over the other and are unduly charitable to India. For example, a few months ago, a distinguished former Editor of a leading Pakistani English newspaper wrote that Pakistan's policy on the Kashmir dispute is “intransigent.” Whereas the fact is that it is Pakistan, over the past 67 years including the tenure of General Pervez Musharraf the COAS himself! which has consistently been the most reasonable, flexible and dialogue-minded as compared to the rigidity and irrationality of India's position. One factor that possibly prevents a major consensus within the country and the media on external threats is the widespread view, both in Pakistani media and overseas that there is a clear division of power and responsibility between the civil and military in respect of policies on nuclear weapons, Kashmir and Afghanistan in particular. Until the civil, political leadership demonstrates enough competence and strength to assert its leadership in these fields and until the military accepts civilian oversight in actual practice, this lack of clarity on the magnitude of external threats will continue. State-owned Media's role Credit is due to state-owned media such as PTV and PBC for their respective roles in informing and educating the people about both internal and external threats. They have not allowed commercialism and sensationalism to divert them from this task as have the private electronic media. Yet these state media have the inherent limitations of being owned by the state and controlled by the government of the day. Even though they often project views and content that are quite critical of the government of the day, they continue to suffer from the strong perception that they are instruments of government propaganda rather than of balanced and independent analysis. The Media Commission appointed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2013 in its report and recommendations (available in hard-copy through complimentary copies published and distributed by the Islamabad office of the German Foundation, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung) offers proposals to enable State media to become more credible and effective. Concluding Thoughts In conclusion: do media matter? Yes, they do. Even as they are presently riven by bitter, acrimonious conflict e.g. The on-going warfare between few leading media houses. The media as a whole sphere are a vital means to combat both internal and external threats. From the most basic functions of conveying hard facts to the public to the offering of diverse opinions on issues, they have in theory and in principle, practical and positive contributions to make. They are, to some extent already doing so. Yet there are serious flaws and deficiencies in media across the board. In certain cases of irresponsible, unethical, unprofessional journalism, by simple incompetence or by devious design, the content of media can itself become an internal threat! But these aberrations should not foster a paranoia and a distrust of media. For details on some aspects of shortcomings and for their possible reform, reference may be made to the Media Commission's Report cited above. In this reflection, a summation can comprise: there is a clear need for substantive capacity-building of media at all levels of their human resources, from owner to editor/content controller, from correspondent to commentator to camera crews. Equally there is a dire need to strengthen the safety and protection of journalists and media's field operatives in the context of the heavy loss of lives suffered by journalists and media persons, apart from being victims of police violence and terrorists. Media are like invaluable early warning systems against the emergence of threats. For years, if not decades, some of the leading English language newspapers have been sounding the alarm against the rise of religious extremism and hate material. But there is a need to build capacity for comprehension of the threats both in Urdu media, in regional language media and in parts of English language media at all levels on a sustained basis. To combat internal and external threats in a purposeful way, media, individually and collectively should help build a new narrative for public discourse. Such a new narrative should espouse pluralism, diversity, freedom of responsible and well-informed expression, not uniformity and a forced compliance with official or non-official versions of reality. Do media matter? Not necessarily always, or fully! About 32 years ago in 1982, this writer contributed an essay to Dawn's Sunday magazine section titled: “Five paradoxes of mass media.” The same essay is reproduced in the book: “The Global City” published by Royal Book Company, Karachi. In that essay, one of the paradoxes that one presented is that media set out to delineate and depict reality but actually manage to distort reality because no medium can ever convey the totality of reality. By being subjective and selective, media content is inevitably suppressive. Thus, where media have power, media also have severe limitations. Sometimes, as earlier said, media themselves can be part of both internal and external threats! So even as we end this exploration with a wish for a set of guidelines for media about coverage of internal and external threats, let us also affirm the importance of the larger, non-media reality which we have to transform to make Pakistan a truly great country.

The writer is a renowned media personality who has served as minister in three Federal Cabinets and has been a Senator. He has to his credit, thirteen books and monographs comprising his writings and material compiled/edited by him on a range of subjects.

www.javedjabbar.com

13
September

Quaid-i-Azam’s WILL

Little Gibbs Road, Malabar Hill, Bombay - 30th May 1939

1. This is my last Will and Testament, all other Wills and Testaments of mine stand cancelled.

2. I appoint my sister, Fatima Jinnah, Mr. Muhammad Ali Chaiwalla, Solicitor Bombay and Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan of Delhi as my executrix and executors and also my trustees.

3. All shares, stocks & securities and current accounts now standing in the name of my sister, Fatima Jinnah, are her absolute property. I have given them all to her by way of gifts during my lifetime and I confirm the same, and she can dispose of them in any manner she pleases as her absolute property.

4. I now hereby bequeath to her my house and all that land with appurtenances, outhouses etc. situated at Mount Pleasant Road, Malabar Hill, Bombay, including all the furniture, plates, silver and Motor Cars in its entirety as it stands absolutely and she can dispose of it in any manner she pleases by will, deed or otherwise.

5. I also direct my executors to pay her during her lifetime Rs. 2,000/- two thousands per month (for her maintenance and other requirements for her).

6. I direct my executors to pay per month Rs. 100/- one hundred to my sister, Rehmat Cassimbhoy Jamal, during her lifetime.

7. I direct my executors to pay per month Rs. 100/- one hundred to my sister, Mariam Abdenbhoy Peerbhoy, during her lifetime.

8. I direct my executors to pay per month Rs. 100/- one hundred to my sister, Shereen, during her lifetime.

9. I direct my executors to pay per month Rs. 100/- one hundred to my brother, Ahmed, during his lifetime.

10. I direct my executors to set apart Rs. 200,000/- (two lacs) or (two hundred thousands) which will at 6% bring an income of Rs. 1,000/- one thousand and pay the income thereof whatever it be to my daughter every month for her life or during her lifetime and after her death the corpus of two lacs so set apart to be divided equally between her children, males or females, in default of issue the corpus to fall into my residuary estate.

11. I direct my executors to pay the following by way of gifts to the institutions mentioned.

• I bequeath Rs. 25,000/- Twenty-five thousand to the Anjumane-Islam School, Bombay, situated at Hornby Road opposite Boribunder Station and next to the The Times of India Buildings

• I bequeath Rs. 50,000/- Fifty thousands to the University of Bombay

• I bequeath Rs. 25,000/- Twenty-five thousands to the Arabic College, Delhi

12. Subject to above, all my residuary estate including the corpus that may fall after the lapse of life interests or otherwise to be divided into three parts – and I bequeath One part to Aligarh University, One Part to Islamia College, Peshawar, and One Part to Sindh Madressa of Karachi.

Sd/M. A. Jinnah (25/10/40)

07
September

SAVIOUR IN MELANCHOLY… THANK YOU PAK ARMY!

Written By: Iffat Hasan Rizvi

The writer is a reporter of a private TV channel who was rescued by personnel of Pak Army on night August 30/31, during violent protests at the Constitution Avenue, Islamabad

 

A few hours later, my colleagues came to take me back to office. Even then the army personnel offered me that I could come back to the Supreme Court building again if I felt any danger outside. They also offered a safe ride back to office if I was facing any problem. I was impressed. I thanked them as they protected me when I was in huge trouble. I left for office. I know I can never forget that horrible night and also the hospitality of the brave soldiers of my Pak Army.

The dark night looked even darker. The Constitution Avenue was not as serene as it used to be. Now, it was more of a battlefield with all its tranquility lost, and, beauty crushed. It seemed as if everyone at Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehrik's sit-in could sense it, smell it that it would not be as simple; different to the nights as were since Aug 15. This time there was no rhyme in the air!

Being a team member of Geo News, I was also on duty outside the Parliament House that night for the coverage of the sit-in, and more importantly, for well-anticipated riots in the Red Zone.

Chanting slogans like Allah-o-Akbar, policemen and FC personnel would beat their shields, as if attempting to scare away the demonstrators. It would make me laugh. I laughed and so did the protestors and the policemen. I wish it remained that normal, but it wasn't.

Finally, both the leaders announced the march to the Prime Minister House. Thousands of marchers, once peaceful, rushed towards the building. I could see the police force trying to stop them. But all in vain. They were firm, determined and all set to reach their destination. I was at the tail of the protesting crowd. I was alert. My sixth sense warned me that something terrible might happen that night.

Those demonstrators were peaceful in the beginning. I was unaware of what was happening at the head of the protesting march. Suddenly, I saw people running back. They were all shouting. I went atop my Satellite Van to see what was going on. All I could see was smoke. Yes, it was tear gas. I came down, gave instructions to my cameraman as what shots did we need and also that he too should be careful. Worse was yet to come. Wearing a gas mask and a bullet proof jacket, it seemed difficult to run and do reporting. It was risky but I took the life jacket off. That was a mistake!

Once the shelling had begun, demonstrators moved back from the gate of the Pakistan Secretariat and assembled right in front of the Parliament House gate. That was where I was deployed. Despite being caught in danger, and with no other media workers deployed at that point, my professional obligation compelled me and I decided neither to move away myself nor my Satellite Van staff.

A few minutes passed. The protestors started pelting stones and bricks at police and FC personnel. Violent demonstrators had sharp cutters and penknives that they used in cutting the boundary-grills to enter the premises of the Parliament House. I was standing at the front line, when the protestors targeted us with stones. I had to revert the decision of staying there. I had no other option but to leave the place to protect my team and myself. I could see my phone ringing continuously but I dared not attend to my mother's call. Siren of ambulances, shouting of people and firing sounds would have upset her.

Something hit me. For a moment, I was unable to understand whether it was a stone or a rubber bullet. Then I realized it was a brick thrown at me. Then comes another. One more. And then many! I managed to stay intact, but it was all too difficult. When it became impossible to keep my eyes open because of heavy tear gas, I ran to take refuge in the Supreme Court building; a place where I go for reporting daily.

Islamabad Police personnel deployed for the security of the Supreme Court building let me enter at once. At the entrance door of the building, I came across an army officer of the 111 Brigade, Captain Abdul Hakim. Security of the Supreme Court of Pakistan was responsibility of Pak Army after the imposition of Article 245 in the capital. Upon seeing me, he asked me to leave the place at once as he didn't know my purpose of standing there. I wanted to request him but couldn't utter a single word. He left the area and went outside the building to check the security, perhaps.

I was upset now; directionless. Not knowing where to go and what to do next. Outside, it was mayhem. Inside, it was peace but I was disallowed to step in. My eyes filled with tears. Tears for being helpless, tears for being in pain. I was wondering how could my very own people attack me, and where should I go in this situation?

I had never been as hopeless as I was then.

My wounds were aching severely now and I was unable to stand anymore. The officer entered the main entrance of the Supreme Court Hall and once again asked me “Aap abhe tak gai nahe?” (You have not left so far!) I requested him to let me stay in the building until someone from my office escorted me. It was then when he felt the pain I was going through. He paused for a while and, then, asked me the name of my organization. I was confused but showed him my card. “Geo News.”

The Army officer mumbled something and said, “Since you, the journalists, are known as very brave people, so you must not be upset.”

A miracle happened; that Pak Army officer not only let me take refuge in the Supreme Court, but also provided me with first aid and offered tea. Sitting there, I could hear the slogans raised by the protestors attacking Parliament House. Smoke of tear gas could be felt inside the premises of the Supreme Court.

I was depressed and uncertain of what would happen next, but brave soldiers deputed there were very kind to me. These brothers assured me that I was safe there. They told me that even if the Supreme Court were attacked, I would be taken home safely. I was relaxed after their assurance and felt secure. When the media was subjected to violence, I was given a true feeling of protection and security by the soldiers of Pakistan Army.

A few hours later, my colleagues came to take me back to office. Even then the army personnel offered me that I could come back to the Supreme Court building again if I felt any danger outside. They also offered a safe ride back to office if I was facing any problem. I was impressed. I thanked them as they protected me when I was in huge trouble. I left for office. I know I can never forget that horrible night and also the hospitality of the brave soldiers of my Pak Army.

Later in the evening, I shared the whole incident with my Bureau Chief Rana Jawad and senior anchor Hamid Mir. They saluted Pakistan Army for saving my life – a Geo News reporter's life. They paid rich tribute to the personnel of Pakistan Army for being so kind to me.

It was a day when, for a moment, I felt that humanity was nowhere to find. My hopes were shattered then. But, thanks to Captain Hakim and his team for they helped me to keep firm and strengthened my faith in my soldiers. Thank You Pakistan Army.

___________________________________________

Twitter: @IffatHasanRizvi

02
September

Russia is Not Far Away! Mi-35M Combat and Transport Helicopter also Flies High in Aviation Arena

Written By: Capt Sana Nasri

After the end of World War II, military hardware industry of the world was divided between US-led Western Bloc and a Soviet-led Bloc. Although the equipment manufactured in the West dominated the export industry, yet Russian hard-ware also made its mark in the militaries around the world. Even after the end of the Cold War, though seemingly Western Club led by America dominates due to a common perception of better technology, yet Russian defence industry is not far too behind. Mi-35M helicopter is one such example. Mi-35M is categorized as one of the latest helicopters in the world. Manufactured by Russia, it is a multi-role combat helicopter that can both be used in combat as well as transportation role. The latest series of the kind of machines was derived from the Mi-8 helicopter, which was later transformed to Mi-14, Mi-28, and Mi-24 which is also known as 'Flying Tank'. The export versions of Mi-24 are Mi-25 and Mi-35M. Mi-35M is a versatile and reliable air transport with heavy armour, good transport capacity, and a nose canon for defence against light vehicles and other helicopters. The main role of this helicopter is carrying out a wider range of combat missions like destruction of armoured vehicles, enemy troops, UAVs and other helicopters, including air reconnaissance with real-time target location. Its secondary role is troops delivery, special cargo, and evacuation of casualties. It can also operate at night and in adverse weather conditions. The helicopter is fitted with new main and tail rotors, a new swash plate assembly, a shorter modernized wing with an integrated cargo lifting system, a non-retractable landing gear. It differs from the basic model by main rotor system of the Mi-28 and X-shape tail rotor. Fibreglass blades of main rotors have new aerodynamic profile. These are lighter but stronger due to titanium details. Wings have a number of hard points for weapons and other uses. Mi-35M has a payload capacity of a 2,400 kg. It can carry 2 crew members and a full infantry section of 8 fully-equipped troops. This feature makes this helicopter unique comparing with Western attack helicopters. A large-calibre machine gun, as well as general purpose machine guns can be installed in the cargo cabin, too. The helicopter has increased-capacity external fuel tanks, and an upgraded 2 power plants, GTD TV3-117VMA turbo shafts engines with maximum speed of 310 km/h. The fuel tank has self-sealing covers and porous fuel tank filler for increased survivability and the exhaust is fitted with infrared suppression systems. Also, these measures increase the hovering ceiling of the helicopter up to 4,000 metre and its service ceiling up to 5,700 metre. Mi-35M has a whole spectrum of new electronic systems adopted in the glass cockpit. It accommodates two pilots in tandem configuration. The Night Vision Goggle (NVG)-compatible cockpit integrates Multi-Functional Displays (MFDs), redundant flight controls and state-of-the-art avionics. The helicopter is equipped with OPS-24N surveillance-and-sighting station, television channel, GPS-guided navigation system and optional non-Russian radio station. Also, countermeasures capability of Mi-35M includes a radar warning receiver, a laser range finder and a location finder, chaff and flare launch system, infrared (IR) jamming system and engine-exhaust IR suppressor, all onboard computer, and new generation jam-proof communications equipment. Mi-35M helicopter's round-the-clock combat efficiency is enhanced by installation of eight highly effective ATGMs, unguided rockets or bombs, four Igla-V air-to-air missiles, up to 10 S-13 rockets, the nose turret carries GSh-23 (23mm) two barrel gun cannon with 450-round ammunition load, and improved weapons control system, computer system, and software. The cockpit and vital components of this helicopter are significantly armoured. Mi-35M combat helicopter is a good choice for any modern army, provides an alternative to over-reliance and dependence on Western technology, and, Russia is not too far away! Those who decry 'Eurocentrism' as if it were some distasteful prejudice have a problem: the Scientific Revolution was, by any scientific measure, wholly Eurocentric. An astonishingly high proportion of the key figures – around 80 per cent – originated in a hexagon bounded by Glasgow, Copenhagen, Krakow, Naples, Marseille and Plymouth, and nearly all the rest were born within a hundred miles of that area. In marked contrast, Ottoman scientific progress was non-existent in this same period. The best explanation for this divergence was the ultimate sovereignty of religion in the Muslim world. Towards the end of the eleventh century, influential Islamic clerics began to argue that the study of greek philosophy was incompatible with the teachings of the Koran. Indeed, it was blasphemous to suggest that man might be able to discern the divine mode of operation, which God might in any case vary at will. In the words of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, author of The Incoherence of the Philosophers, 'it is rare that someone becomes absorbed in this [foreign] science without renouncing religion and letting go the reins of liety within him.' Under clerical influence, the study of ancient philosophy was curtailed, books burned and so called freethinkers persecuted; increasingly, the madrasas became focused exclusively on theology at a time when European universities were broadening the scope of their scholarship. Printing, too, was resisted in the Muslim world. For the Ottomans, script wad sacred: there was a religious reverence for the pen, a preference for the art of calligraphy over the business of printing. 'Scholar's ink', it was said, 'is holier than martyr's blood.' In 1515 a decree of Sultan Selim I had threatened with death anyone found using the printing press." This failure to reconcile Islam with scientific progress was to prove disastrous. Having once provided European scholars with ideas and inspiration, Muslim scientists were now cut off from the latest research. If the Scientific Revolution was generated by a network, then the Ottoman Empire was effectively offline. The only Western book translated into a Middle Eastern language until the late eighteenth century was a medical book on the treatment of syphilis. Nothing better illustrates this divergence than the fate of the observatory built in Istanbul in the 1570s for the renowned polymath Takiyuddin al-Rasid (Taqi al Din). Born in Syria in 1521 and educated in Damascus and Cairo, Takiyuddin was a gifted scientist, the author of numerous treatises on astronomy, mathematics and optics. He designed his own highly accurate astronomical clocks and even experimented with steam power. In the mid-1570s, as chief astronomer to the Sultan, he successfully lobbied for the construction of an observatory. By all accounts the Daru'r-Rasadu'l-Cedid (House of the New Observations) was a sophisticated facility, on a par with the Dane Tycho Brahe's more famous observatory, Uraniborg. But on 11 September 1577 the sighting of a comet over Istanbul prompted demands for astrological interpretation. Unwisely, according to some accounts, Takiyuddin interpreted it as a harbinger of a coming Ottoman military victory. But Sheikh ul-Islam Kadizade, the most senior cleric of the time, persuaded the Sultan that Takiyuddin's prying into secrets of the heavens was as blasphemous as the planetary tables of the Samarkand astronomer Ulugh Beg, who had supposedly been beheaded for similar temerity. In January 1580, barely five years after its completion, the Sultan ordered the demolition of Takiyuddin's observatory. There would not be another observatory in Istanbul until 1868. By such methods, the Muslim clergy effectively snuffed out the chance of Ottoman scientific advance – at the very moment that the Christian Churches of Europe were relaxing their grip on free inquiry. European advances were dismissed in Istanbul as mere `vanities'. The legacy of Islam's once celebrated House of Wisdom vanished in a cloud of piety. As late as the early nineteenth century, Huseyin Rifki Tamani, the head teacher at the Muhendishane-i Cedide, could still be heard explaining to students: 'The universe in appearance is a sphere and its centre is the Earth... The Sun and Moon rotate around the globe and move about the signs of the zodiac.' By the second half of the seventh century, while the heirs of Osman slumbered, rulers all across Europe were actively promoting science, largely regardless of clerical qualms. (Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson)

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