‘Mission Creep’

Mission Creep is what critics are calling it, says Mehreen Zahra-Malik, in her propaganda article for the MQM in Reuters. But is it really mission creep (a quiet coup) or is it an attempt to free Karachi from the terror of target killing and extortion?

In an extremely one-sided article, Reuters becomes the 6th article in one week to take shots at the Pakistan Army and the ISI. Starting from the ProPublica article and PBS program, American Terrorist, about David Headley, to the recent media blitz after Sabeen Mahmood was murdered in Karachi, the Western media has set its sights on Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency once again; this time with the help of domestic journalists and “social activists” ready to propagate a position without any evidence.

Many of us who live and work in the city of Karachi have long asked that the Army be called out to restore peace and order to the city. Whether we are looking at the Talibanized areas of Sorhab Goth & PIB Colony, the MQM controlled sectors of Gulshan, Nazimabad and Korangi or the gang wars in Lyari, Karachi is a city that has been disrupted by anyone with a little bit of power and influence. There was great hope when the Prime Minister announced, in the shadows of the brutal murders of 141 children at Army Public School in Peshawar, that there would be nowhere safe for those who fostered and supported this mindset. But those hopes died during the All Parties Conference weeks later when the politicians decided that they needed protection from the army, a clear signal of their own involvement in terrorist and extremist activities.

Why else would you need protection from an army-led operation against terrorism if you weren’t worried about your own links?

The Reuters ‘article’, if we can actually call it a work of journalism, spends the first 100 words or so presenting the impression that the ISI is ‘quietly taking over Karachi’ because of the city’s size, land and resources. It points out that Karachi accounts for “half the national revenues” (actually 70%), as if the reason for the military involvement was purely economic. Then she hits with the same mantra that we see in “journalistic articles” from across the border:

“The army’s increasing influence could make it harder for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to deliver a rapprochement with India that he promised when he won elections in 2013.”

From this point forward, the article turns into an MQM propaganda piece, obviously written by someone who is loyal to the folks at Nine Zero, the MQM headquarters that were raided by the Pakistan Rangers last month, seizing arms, detaining fugitives from jails and other criminals. The article fails to point out that Altaf Hussain himself, in his traditional telephonic address from London, questioned the MQM leadership in providing safe haven to fugitives inside the MQM headquarters.

It’s interesting that she fails to point that out…

Let’s not forget that Altaf Hussain himself has spent the past two years demanding an army operation in Karachi to root out the criminals and terrorists from the city. Or the death threats he made to the Director General of the Pakistan Rangers the day after the raid on live television. Or the apology that he made for supporting the armed forces against terrorists, again during a telephonic address from the comforts of his home in London.

She also fails to point out that while Rizwan Akhtar was Director General of the Pakistan Rangers – Sindh, a paramilitary policing organization affiliated with the Pakistan Army and the ISI, he tried numerous times to get the Pakistan People’s Party government to approve para-military action against the same groups that are being targeted today.

The response then is the same as today, “Why are you targeting political parties?”

I would accept this as a piece of journalistic quality if she pointed out that the Pakistan People’s Party funds and arms the Baluch gangs in Lyari. I would accept this as a piece of journalistic quality if she pointed out the number of illegal weapons that were issued to Pakistan People’s Party supporters during the last government and the creation of the terror group, the Aman Committee, in Lyari. Or even the mention of someone like Uzair Baluch, the gang lord of Lyari now in custody in Dubai, and his connections to the Pakistan People’s Party. I would accept this as a piece of journalism if she had pointed out that the MQM has regularly denied the existence of target killers in their party ranks, but when one is arrested, they are the first to the police station to demand their release from custody. But no, the “journalist” says this instead:

“The army has long accused the MQM of racketeering, kidnappings for ransom and targeted killings in Karachi.”

Yes, it’s the army alone that accuses the MQM of these crimes. The media, politicians and law enforcement agencies have never made these accusations. No, not once.

She also, much like the critics of this campaign, misses that there have been, and continue to be, many intelligence-based operations (IBOs) both prior to and since the Nine Zero raid. These IBOs don’t get media coverage because they are silent operations to take down terrorist cells, terrorism financiers and others that the media doesn’t want to highlight as successes of the Karachi campaign.

In the area where I live, there have been numerous raids of Awami National Party, Jamaat Islami and Pakistan People Party strongholds, but those don’t make the news. No, if that were to become newsworthy, then the MQM could no longer present themselves as victims of the Army and the intelligence services, the mantra of every group operating outside the laws of the country.

They also don’t want to highlight that many of the areas of the city where barriers had been illegally erected have also been removed during this campaign, including Bilawal House, the Pakistan People’s Party headquarters, which had refused to honor a Sindh High Court ruling to remove the blockades.

Or the fact that a city that would normally wake up to news of 10-12 innocent souls being killed overnight, no longer has a target killing problem.

Why this is laughable journalism is very simple – much like the one-sided, poorly researched articles that are published in the United States media, Reuters has allowed a blog to be presented as journalism.

This article originally appeared on Khalid Muhammad’s Agency Rules website.

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