In this article I will discuss how foreign economic interests are impacting on Pakistan’s media which affects Pakistan’s strategic, economic and politico-social interests. Foreign economic interests can be classified into three broad categories. First, the influence emanating from foreign governments, second the influence emanating from the corporate
sector abroad, and third, the influence from international financial institutions. Although these are three different sources, their origin is the same. They all represent foreign imperial interests.
The impact of these foreign economic interests on Pakistan can also be divided into three broad categories, i.e. strategic interests, economic interests and socio-political and cultural interests. The question is, what role the media is playing in promoting foreign imperial interests which are impacting on our strategic, economic, politico-social and cultural interests. The media promotes its role first through disseminating news that promotes foreign imperial interests. Second, the media achieves its objectives through suppressing news that will have an adverse impact on foreign imperial interests. Third, local agents appointed by foreign imperial powers are portrayed as heroes and fourth, those standing up against such foreign imperial interests and domination are marginalised
and their message is suppressed. And finally, I will discuss how this scenario affects Pakistan’s national security, economic and social wellbeing, health and the quality of life of the Pakistani people.
Following this brief introduction I will discuss the role of Pakistani media in historic perspective in section II. This will be followed by discussing how the Pakistani media is promoting foreign economic interests through disseminating news that promote these interests. I will also bring to the fore how the media promotes foreign economic interests through killing news that can adversely affect foreign economic interests. In this section
we will also discuss how Pakistanis who promote foreign economic interests are given coverage both in the print and electronic media and those promoting Pakistan’s national interests are marginalised and their message suppressed. And in section III we will discuss the impact of the situation discussed in section II on Pakistan’s national security, economic, politico-social and quality of lives of the Pakistani people. And section IV
concludes the study.
II. Pakistani Media in Historical Perspective
Pakistan’s media was more open and objective till the 1990s. The 1990s was the first decade of the liberalisation and privatization era and heavy borrowings from the IFIs. The resulting decline in the growth rate had a decelerating effect on personal incomes, business profits and government revenues. De-industrialization manifested itself in the closure of 5000 industrial units, downsizing and restructuring of State Owned Enterprises
(SOEs), decline in investments, migration of industrial units that became non-viable due to escalation in their cost of production rendering millions unemployed. The per capita income which was more or less stagnant during the first few years of the 1990s decade declined in 1994, 1997, 1998 and 1999. As a result of decline in the growth rate, employment rate and per capita income overall poverty increased to 50% and in rural Sindh to 85% according to the Asian Development Bank estimates. The “Durkheimian- Modernization” perspective linking economic structure to social variables was substantiated by increase in larceny, robberies, murders and suicides. These ugly manifestations were reflected in manifold increase in cases of car snatchings, robberies, murders and three or more suicides reported daily in the newspapers during the 1990s. The country was engulfed in a socio-economic-political turmoil!
This was a horrendous time for the people of Pakistan, but it was possible to publish articles in leading Pakistani newspapers highlighting the predicament in which we found ourselves. I was writing in almost all the leading English and Urdu newspapers on these issues. But come the decade of 2000 things changed. When a non economist wrote an article in a leading English daily urging the government to borrow from the IMF, and I wrote a rejoinder highlighting our horrendous experience of the 1990s as a result of
borrowing from the IMF, the editor returned my paper. I was advised to reduce my article to 400 words so that it could be published in the letters to the editor section. Newspapers policy became more restrictive specially after the editors conference in California in November 2011 which was fully funded by the US government.
The mainstream western media also does not reveal the reasons why the US and Europe have been waging wars for the last several hundred years. That behind the smoke screen of altruistic objectives like women’s rights, getting rid of weapons of mass destruction, or the presence of terrorists posing a threat to the world are hidden agendas. These include acquiring the resources of resource rich countries that do not have brute force to defend themselves, destroying established order which would facilitate the loot and plunder of these countries, establishing an unjust world order, etc. Federico Pieraccini has summed it very well when he says:
“The mainstream media will never tell us that the reason why Washington has been at war for half of the last two centuries is because of US imperialism. They will never tell us that the ceaseless interventions are driven by an insatiable greed for resources, or often enough by the simple desire to plunge a country into chaos if its recalcitrant leaders refuse to genuflect appropriately and show due respect.”
And he goes on to state:
“The mainstream media are tasked by the powers that be with marketing war in order to advance US foreign-policy objectives. Without the moral justification for war, it becomes more difficult to convince Americans and Europeans to send their sons to die thousands of miles away from home. It is straightforward Brainwashing: repeat a lie long enough, and people will start to believe it.”
Pakistani media with its professional and personal links with the western media has been disseminating news that promotes foreign economic interests and suppressing news that adversely impacts on these economic interests. Try writing a paper on the hidden agenda behind the “war against terror”, plight of countries that have borrowed from the IMF, the adverse impact of trade and financial liberalisation on third world economies and see how many mainstream newspapers or electronic media will air your views or publish your articles especially after 9/11.
And this is not restricted to protecting the interests of imperial powers and IFIs, but also to corporate sector interests as well. The Pakistani market was flooded with GMOs even before the Seed Act 1976 was amended in 2015. We have been consuming Bt wheat, fruits, vegetables and lentils by importing these from Canada, Australia and India, without knowing what we were eating. The media remained silent on this issue. Our cotton seeds were replaced by GM seeds during the course of the Cotton Productivity Enhancement Project initiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture when 88 percent of Pakistan’s cotton acreage was clandestinely planted with GM cotton seeds instead of the existing natural seeds. Cotton production declined from 14.1 mn bales in 2004 to 10.5 mn bales after the introduction of GM cotton. But none of these facts have appeared in the mainstream Pakistani media.
Moreover, Agriculture and Cold Chain Development (PACCD), a subsidiary of Winrock International, a US NGO working under the patronage of USAID distributed apple samplings in Balochistan whose description resembles GMOs, without informing the farmers that they are GMOs. This was not reported in any newspaper, I gathered the information myself from orchard farmers in Balochistan. And more recently, US AID was trying to promote Syngenta’s GM paddy seeds, but because of the price differential the farmers were reluctant. U.S. AID, therefore, leased land from a farmer in Shikarpur and started cultivation of Bt rice. Since the yield was high a lot of rice farmers in Shikarpur are now growing Bt rice which entered the market in December 2015 and people are eating Bt crops without any impact risk assessment done on health and the environment. None of this has been reported in the media. I have gathered all this information from farmers who are growing crops in the region.
Moreover, Pakistanis who are promoting such foreign economic interests are rewarded financially, projected as heroes and people of great intellect and elevated to leadership positions in government, public and private sector institutions, banks and financial institutions and universities. While those who are raising their voice trying to expose such economic exploitation and the inherent dangers are marginalised and deprived of positions and status which they deserve.
III. Politico-Social and Economic Impact on Pakistan
The impact of releasing dis information and suppressing information is having a horrendous impact on Pakistan’s economy, socio-political structure, environment, etc. People are eating food whose DNAs have been tempered and contain viruses, which is adversely impacting on the health of the population, increasing illnesses like cancer, paralysis and allergies. This is certainly increasing the profits of western seed companies, but it is quite likely that the same maybe used as a biological chemical weapon against an uninformed population.
Similarly, the dissemination of IMF prescriptions as the solution to the country’s economic woes and the suppression of a better alternative will have a horrendous impact on Pakistani politics, its economy and society. Similarly, marginalising of honest, competent and patriotic Pakistanis and
bringing corrupt, incompetent Economic Hitmen (EHM) is a great security risks for the country. In the past EHM appointed as Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Finance Ministers/Advisers, etc, have passed on Pakistan’s state secrets to the US. When the country is faced with a Hybrid war, to bring EHM on such sensitive positions, in possession of sensitive information related with the economic, strategic and political matters is a grave security risk for a country that is fighting the hybrid war against the very same country whose nationals have been made in charge of such
important and strategic ministries!
Rich countries have been waging wars to increase the profits of the industrial military complex. But these are also “very civilised” countries. They are great humanitarians, how can they kill, maim and injure innocent people in cold blood ? They would never hurt an insect. They are forced to carry on the “white man’s burden” because there is threat to world peace as terrorists are hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan. They go to war because there are Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. They go to protect the minorities in Libya and Syria. And so on and so forth. The media
presents these war mongers as civilised and gentle people who are guided by their altruistic motives to wage wars. That they go to Afghanistan and start taking out uranium and lithium from Afghanistan, oil from Iraq and Libya, etc, develop heir electronic automobile industry and further their economic interests is never pointed by the media.
Just as the media does not mention that health and environment conscious western consumers are not buying GMOs. But these have to be eaten and consumed if the profitability of western seed companies have to be maintained. Therefore, the media indulges in its usual deception and informs the third world countries that GMOs are the solution to their hunger and starvation. But on account of increased fertilizer and herbicide use, they increase the cost of production of crops, increasing foreign exchange requirements, adversely impacting the precarious balance of payments with severe consequences on food prices and food security for these countries. They cannot, therefore, be a solution to the problem of food insecurity in Third World countries. But who can stop the media from indulging in deception to further the economic interests of countries that control the media! firstname.lastname@example.org