Whither Neutrality? (I)

“To be honest, I am scared of facing Television cameras and appearing on Television. There are three reasons for my fear.
First of all, it’s my personality. I am not camera friendly from any angle, my facial features are very ordinary, my voice is not guttural or strong or graceful. My voice is not extra-ordinary. My face has the apprehension and shyness, usually associated with farmers from the rural areas.
The second reason of my fear is my language. I belong to the rural belt in Central Punjab and my vocabulary is limited. The dialect of Rural Central Punjab is raw and provincial. I never had a chance to listen or learn or talk chaste Urdu. My third fault is Politicians. I never had good relations with politicians. I have never visited more than three of four politicians in my life.”

These innocence-laden confessions were mentioned by Columnist and Anchor Javed Chohdary in the preface of his book titled ‘Kal Tak’. These words make Mr. Chohdary, a favorite of Pakistan’s bourgeoisie, look very down-to-earth and humble, but the reality is not as sweet or kind.
Despite the apparent humility and confessions of language problems, Mr. Chohdary remained steadfastly glued to his daily program and has been responsible for introducing some new ‘trends’ in Pakistan’s electronic media. In a program broadcasted in 2009, the conversation between Firdaus Ashiq Awan and Kashmala Tariq digressed off topic and entered the realm of personal attacks, but Mr. Chohdary sat there, like a monkey watching two humans fight each other. The Show went on and the ladies were not interrupted. In one of his shows from 2010, General Musharraf’s spokesman Rashid Qureshi abused and threatened Khwaja Asif on Live Television while in another show, Barrister Saif gave death threats to Talal Bugti.

Mr. Chohdary, the holier-than-thou confessor sat through all these incidents, and refused to do anything reasonable in response (a trait shared by most Television Anchors). Mr. Chohdary, crying hoarse about his lack of relations with politicians, leaves no stones unturned while praising Malik Riaz of Bahria Town. In fact, according to some naysayers, some articles published in Malik Riaz’s name were actually written by Mr. Chohdary. Another particular specialty of Mr. Chohdary is the way he cherry-picks facts and figures to suit his own agenda in his columns. A while ago, he used to write for Jihadi publication Zarb e Momin with the pseudonym ‘Yasir Muhammad Khan’. He once wrote a column on ‘Red Chimpanzee’ in which he tried to do character assassination of Najam Sethi.

He is also very fond of spiritual people like Peers and Faqeers and regales his regular readers with stories related to such people.

Alarmingly, he is not alone in all these pursuits among the famous anchorpersons. Let’s focus on another bourgeoisie favorite. Syed Talat Hussain is usually considered a neutral and sane voice in Pakistan’s Media. This neutral journalist, dripping in love for the ‘Ummah’, boarded a Flotilla that was bound for Gaza. When the adventure turned sour, our Government had to intervene in order to save his life.

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There is hardly any major news channel where Mr. Hussain has not spent some time. When Angeline Jolie visited Pakistan a few years ago, Mr. Hussain also attended the Press Conference. Afterwards, he wrote a scathing critique of Ms Jolie and branded her ‘the woman who collects colorful orphans from around the world’. In the same column, he tried to apply Pakistani Ghairat Brigade’s favorite articles 62,63 on Miss Jolie.

Mr. Hussain has a particular ‘soft corner’ for our men in Khaki. At the height of Lawyers Movement, he did a ‘favorable’ interview with Dictator Musharraf. After the WikiLeaks controversy, he was the first one to pen an article in favor of Pakistan’s armed forces(Did the WikiLeaks cable that mentioned Mr. Hussain as one of the Informers for American Intelligence gathering  agency Stratfor became the reason for that article?).

After the  Abbotabad Commission Report was leaked by a foreign news outlet, Mr. Hussain was quick to deny its veracity and asserted that it was only a first draft. In the article that he wrote following the leaking of that report, Mr. Hussain criticized people who leaked it, but spared the Armed Forces whose shenanigans and gross negligence led to the Abbotabad Operation in the first place.

After the news item that there was some Indian Involvement in Mumbai attacks(something that was not established and was a mere rumor),Mr. Hussain was in full form and wrote a special column for Saach.tv. He wrote,
“The Real Problem with Pakistan is our ‘Bindi Group’. The followers of Kaali Maata are in mourning, even in the Holy month of Ramzan. They are licking their wounds because their efforts in Pakistan, funded by American Charity, have proved futile. How would Members of Hussain Haqqani Network-one of which is a retired captain of Army, who takes pension from Army but speaks against the same army-present their case now, which they had formed against the state of Pakistan after the Mumbai Attacks’(Translation)

All the people that Mr. Hussain mentioned, have been trying to normalize relations between India and Pakistan for many years and are publicly critical of the heinous role played by our establishment to derail the peace initiatives. By shifting the blame from the original culprits to ‘Traitors of Pakistan’, Mr. Hussain unsuccessfully tried to conceal the role of organizations like JuD in terrorist activities across the border.


This is a translation of the article “Hankers Pankers kay Topi Dramay” published at Dawn Urdu, by the author himself.

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