Clinton’s encounter with media and Talat Hussain’s $640 million mistake

After the way the channels handled the TV appearances of the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the verdict has to go in favour of the latter. The encounters were arranged as battles. The TV channels lost, and Ms Clinton has gone home satisfied that she has weathered a great storm of orchestrated anti-Americanism with success. The result was foreordained. The anchors aspired to a uniformity of approach and succeeded wonderfully well in achieving it.

Unfortunately, Ms Clinton’s encounter with students was no better. The educational institutions are brainwashed with the one-sided propaganda churned out by the TV channels and the Urdu press. Hence, once the rational answer met an emotional query, the onlookers were bound to be disappointed with the Pakistani performance. At one point she asked if anyone in the auditorium filled with students could tell how much America had donated for the IDPs of Malakand. No one answered. She wanted to know what happened to the $300 million.

Some restraint was shown even by the TV anchors who have been telling the Pakistani audiences that America is in fact funding the Taliban and Al Qaeda to kill Pakistanis so that it could, with the help of Blackwater, grab Pakistan’s nuclear weapons from Kahuta. That was real courtesy. They could have asked her the address of the prison in the US where Osama bin Laden was being kept as the Americans invaded the lands of the Muslim nation looking for him.

Ms Clinton could fault the American diplomats stationed in Pakistan for not spreading the good word about American assistance effectively. But she also should look at her visit in the perspective of the general American image in the world in the aftermath of the Neocons of President George Bush. Considering how queered the pitch was, it was a successful first big outing of the Secretary in Pakistan. (Daily Times)

October 30th, 2009

If anyone needs evidence that Pakistan’s most popular TV anchors just reel off nonsense without checking facts, please watch the interview given by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a group of Pakistani anchors.

Talat Hussain of Aaj TV, who often speaks as if he knows everything, wanted to embarrass Hillary by “proving” that the U.S, does not give Pakistan enough. In his recent shows he has been mouthing off against the “insulting language” in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid bill, which triples non-military assistance to Pakistan to $ 1.5 billion per year for five years.

Talat claimed that the U.S. was paying Kyrgyzstan $ 700 million as rent for a military base in that country. Hillary corrected the arrogant and self-righteous Aaj TV anchor and said the rent was not that high but was in the range of $ 50 million. Not one to ever digest facts, especially those that prove him wrong, Talat Hussain continued on to say that must be the rent “per month.” The US Secretary of State remained polite and left the Kyrgyzstan base rent figure unresolved.

None of the other “famous and popular” anchors, including Moeed Pirzada, Nasim Zehra, Naveen Naqvi, Mubashir Luqman and others, knew the figure themselves to be able to step in and correct their colleague.

So, what does a simple google search reveal to be the fact?

The US agreed in June 2009 to triple the rent of its base in Manas, Kyrgyzstan to $ 60 million, up from $ 17 million, PER YEAR.

The US also agreed to pay an additional $ 37 million to Kyrgyzstan to build new aircraft parking slots and storage areas, plus another $30 million for new navigation systems. That adds up to a grand total of $ 127 million in the first year and a recurrent payment per year of still $ 60 million only!

Here’s the link to a CBS news story one of many stories on the subject available on the internet, beyond the crazy right-wing dominated Pakistani blogs.

Where did Talat Hussain of Aaj get his figure of $ 700 million per year? Nobody knows. Maybe from his friends Shireen Mazari or Ahmed Quraishi—all purveyors of anti-US opinions with little regard for facts.





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  1. Ahmed Iqbalabadi