Source: Pakistan Media Watch
Outside Zardari’s appearance at the PPP rally in Birmingham, England, a crowd of protesters gathered to express their opposition to the president and his message. Inside, crowds chanted their support for the president. But there was another story that was missed by the press altogether.
This is a perfect example of how even reputable foreign and Pakistani news services can misreport stories about Pakistan when they do not receive the facts from the Pakistani media. Also, it shows how all media sometimes miss important facts when reporting a story.
BBC released a video about the protests at President Zardari’s rally, and noted that it was indicative of the political divide in the Pakistani public. The video featured a couple of men speaking in English and saying that they think that the president would have been better to stay in Pakistan during the floods, and a clip of Bilawal fundraising for flood victims in London.
But that wasn’t all.
The video shows scenes from the protests outside the rally filled with signs that say, “Save Pakistan from America” and “Khilafah Only Way to Stop America”. One might ask, what does America have to do with Zardari speaking to a PPP rally in the UK, or with the floods that are devastating the country? In fact, several shots from the video clearly show protesters waving Khilafah flags.
Jihadist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir protesting Zardari in London
A commenter on this blog recently asked “Do the British Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian not check simple verifiable facts that they report…And what possibly makes you think that these news services rely on Pakistani media sources, without any verification?”
Actually, there is a quite simple explanation. Many Western reporters may not be aware of such concepts like caliphate or even of organizations like Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Even our own reporters get caught up in a particular narrative – “People protesting Zardari decision” – and miss the evidence that there is perhaps another story there.
The fact the protests outside the rally were largely organised and manned by members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir was largely overlooked by the press, despite this organization being banned by a large number of countries including Egypt, Turkey, and Bangladesh. The group was banned in Pakistan by Gen. Musharraf until a decision by the Lahore High Court reversed the proscription.
In fact, Hizb-ut-Tahrir has orchestrated protests at previous appearances by President Zardari since he was elected, arguing that Pakistan’s government should be overthrown and replaced with Khilafah.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir protest against Zardari
So while there is certainly a story about Zardari’s decision to attend diplomatic meetings in Europe during the flood crisis – a story that President Zardari himself has addressed – there is another important story that was largely missed by both the foreign and Pakistani media: The protests outside Zardari’s speech in Birmingham largely had nothing to do with Zardari’s decision to attend the rally, but more to do with a highly controversial jihadist group that opposes the concept of democracy and is working to overthrow the Pakistani government and install a new Caliphate.