Editor’s note: This is a modified version of an earlier article by LUBP https://lubpak.com/archives/244131 . We have reworked this based on feed back from our readers. To prove that we are here to engage and move Pakistan media to solutions we are making changes to this article. We are all for engagement, discussion and debate.
During his nightly show on Pakistan’s TV channel owned by the Jang Group (Geo TV, Aaps Ki Baat 18 Feb 2013), Najam Sethi seemed to avoid focusing on the Shia Genocide in Pakistan.
While acknowledging that the Pakistan Taliban, Afghan Taliban and ASWJ are all linked, Najam Sethi made the observation that the ongoing massacres of Shias in Balochistan are part of an ongoing “Iran-Saudi” proxy war. This is the line taken by the military establishment and has been deconstructed extensively on this site. https://lubpak.com/archives/tag/iran-saudi-arabia-proxy-war-theory
One should ask Mr. Sethi if the Taliban, the organizations killing thousands of Pakistanis and committing genocide against Shias in Pakistan were created and nurtured by the Pakistani military establishment or by Iran?
If the genocide of more than 21000 Shias of Pakistan is just the outcome of an Iran-Saudi proxy war, what does Sethi have to say about the thousands of moderate Sunnis who have been killed in various attacks on Sufi shrines by the same Takfiri Deobandi groups killing Shias?
What does Sethi have to say about Sunni scholars like Sarfaraz Naeemi who was killed for issuing a fatwa condemning suicide attacks on civilians?
What about the attacks on Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the threats to Javed Ghamdi? Have they come from Iran or Iranian proxies (which we would like to hear identified) or from the Sipah Sahaba/Taliban?
Are the attacks on Ahmadi Muslims by the LeJ-ASWJ part of a Raiwand-Saudi proxy war as per Mr. Sethi’s rationale? Or maybe the LeJ-ASWJ are moonlighting for the Iranians, too?
What about the attacks on Pakistan’s Christians, Sikhs and Hindus? If the genocide of Shias is part of an Iran-Saudi Proxy war, are these attacks on Pakistan’s minorities by LeJ part of an India/Vatican City-Saudi proxy war? And the LeJ-ASWJ are moonlighting for India and/or the Vatican as well?
This proxy war explanation for Shia Genocide does not stand up to the fact that groups like LeJ-ASWJ that are massacring Shias are also massacring everyone else. They have been protected by the Pakistani State and for persons like Sethi to regurgitate the same line makes one wonder how real his much-vaunted opposition to the security establishment is and his complicity or co-optation in furthering, if not manufacturing this, discourse!
It is now clear that Sethi, like other commentators who are very obviously allied with the military establishment, or his Friday Times/Jinnah Institute peers are at least party to distracting the public from the real, immediate causes of extremism and Shia Genocide. Discerning media consumers in Pakistan are often confident that at least some of these people are tasked to mislead the public so that the links between the Jihadi proxies and their military establishment sponsors remain obscured.
During his show, Najam Sethi kept on focusing the blame on the ANP. This is the party that has suffered the most at the hands of the Taliban – in direct contrast to the Pro-Taliban and Pro-LeJ PML N who seem to often seem in favour with Sethi. Blaming ANP without appreciating their stand against these extremists and without understanding their constraints is typical of the what media consumers clearly see as dishonesty on the part of what increasing numbers now refer to as pseudo liberals. These are blame-the-victim tactics. Any observer of Pakistan can see that it is NOT ANP but the military establishment and their allied think tanks that provide support to Taliban and the LeJ.
But to follow Sethi’s train of thought further, while acknowledging that the foreign policy that created these jihadist Deobandi-Wahhabi extremists is itself the creation of the military establishment (“it is their strategic responsibility’, he says), the responsibility of not taking action, Mr Sethi informs us, lies with the elected government and NOT the military establishment!
Even someone whose reasoning flows as smoothly as Mr Sethi should see the contradiction in all this. For starters, one could ask Mr Sethi as to who is responsible for the Army’s “kill and dump” policy in Balochistan. Did President Zardari give the orders for this?
Any casual observer knows that the army has been in effective control of Balochistan. One could well argue that this has been the case since the very beginning in 1948. If the Army does not need the permission of the civilian government for its brutal suppression of Baloch Nationalists or extra-judicial killings of Pashtuns in Swat, why would it need permission to go after its own LeJ-ASWJ assets?
On social media and other outlets, there is the usual round of applause by the usual suspects who look up to Najam Sethi, recycling and circulating his Saudi-Iran Proxy War theory, moving the focus away from the Shia genocide. As a matter of fact, almost all members of the Sethi club continue to move the focus away from the Shia genocide by describing it as Sunni-vs-Shia sectarian violence, giving it a Hazara-specific ethnic color, hiding the Takfiri Deobandi identity of LeJ-ASWJ terrorists, or moving the blame from ISI-sponsored Jihadist Deobandis to Iran-Saudi, India, Israel, USA etc.
It should be remembered that Najam Sethi was amongst the first anchors in the mainstream electronic media who provided live coverage to ASWJ-LeJ Chief Ahmad Ludhianvi’s hate speech against Shias and move the focus away from the Shia genocide through his talk show: https://lubpak.com/archives/73439
Here’s an example of how Mr Sethi and his colleagues at The Friday Times continue to re-focus the discussion of the Shia genocide: https://lubpak.com/archives/74987
In July 2012, Sethi informed us that that the Taliban had stopped attacking civilians: https://lubpak.com/archives/82388
And recently, Najam Sethi’s Friday Times (TFT) magazine undermined efforts for Sunni-Shia reconciliation: http://freespeechpakistan.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/how-najam-sethi-brought-down-maulana-tahir-ashrafis-solo-flight-by-shazia-najmi/
Moving the blame from the military establishment to the civilian government is now an established pattern with Mr Sethi. One wonders if the ISPR (public mouthpiece of Pakistan army) needed any permission before it attacked the Kerry Lugar Bill. Sethi conveniently forgets that it was the ISI that refused to follow the orders of an elected Prime Minister to offer cooperation to the Indian Government after the Mumbai attacks. Recently, the same ISI went against the same PM in the engineered Memogate controversy, implicating the then ambassador of Pakistan to the USA, Mr. Husain Haqqani.
Sethi also made little mention of PML-N links with LeJ-ASWJ and was only able to provide a vague response when this topic came up.
Sethi’s links with the military establishment are much older than many of his current flatterers and promoters would like to remember. In 1996, he played a key role as a member of the ISI-media team to discredit and undermine the elected government of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. There are many reasons to criticize the current government. Unfortunately, Sethi’s past track record makes him a dubious critic. He was part of the caretaker setup that followed the overthrow of SMBB’s second government by turncoat politicians like Farooq Leghari in 1996.