Wikileaks and Pakistani Media – by Naveed Ali

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It’s been two weeks since Wikileaks started releasing cables. Be it Iraq War, Relations with Iran or the Afghan War, its all gossip which has documented mistrust amongst leaders. What appears as a conclusion from these leaks is a mistrust between leaders and reliance of leadership on foreigners, it also appears clearly that they depend on foreign powers as support and guarantee of their control over the cords of Pakistan’s administrative setup.  Another important aspect of the leaks on regional (Middle East) politics is distrust and fear of the leadership of mostly Islamic countries over each other and their citizens. Leaks shed light on their efforts to keep their public in dark over matters of internal security, foreign relations and hence involvement of foreign powers in their internal affairs as mediators and consultants.

There has been an overwhelming response from Pakistani media including TV talk shows, interviews from prominent personalities, scholars and experts and columns in newspapers.  Most important aspect of this response is insistence that there must be a conspiracy behind the leaks and some hidden agenda by powers which are conspirators and want to turn events for their advantage. It is not necessary to provide any references here because objective is not to point to a particular person; one can skim through newspapers and watch TV shows to find such columns and statements. Argument goes that it is a conspiracy to provoke Muslim countries to clash with each other and hence to create confusion and disorder in “Muslim brotherhood”. Another frequent argument is that material revealed by the leaks is not unfamiliar and journalists, scholars, politicians and other people with links in power corridors are aware of the status of affairs.

Before going further we must understand what does it meant by whistle blowing as this is the prime purpose of initiatives such as Wikileaks is to provide a platform for whistle blowers. A whistle blower is “a person who informs on another or makes public disclosure of corruption or wrongdoing”1. “A person who tells police, reporters, etc., about something (such as a crime) that has been kept secret” 2. So a whistle blower can be any person anywhere in any organisation who witness unethical, unlawful or malpractices which do not confirm to the code of conduct of that function or activity, and decides to go public or to authorities against those malpractices. It is an individual decision but it could prevent major quantitative and non quantitative losses to respective organisation (could be any form of organisation including a government) and that is the reason why whistle blowing is now accepted and protected by law in many countries and governments and businesses are protecting whistle blowers.

So what Wikileaks does is to provide a platform for whistleblowers, it is a debate how far they can go in this pursuit and we yet to see how future events will turn up to decide the fate of this web site and other similar initiatives.

In many of the documents published, especially around Afghan war and war on terror, Pakistan has been referenced. And most of what has been ‘revealed’  does not create a positive image of the leadership of this country, moreover it raises questions on which are the real sources of power in Pakistan and what role people of Pakistan have in affairs of their country. It is an old habit of our intelligentsia to look for conspiracy in events, as this easily shifts the blame from ‘us’ to outsiders and hence no responsibility left on our own shoulders to correct the course of events and every one inside comes out clean and innocent. This theory surely suits the people in power corridors who lack legitimacy and rights over the powers they enjoy and once blame is shift to ‘others’ they no longer remain answerable to the people of this country. Conspiracy theories will always be an easy way out to diverge our attention from the actual problems we have. We have been given distorting glasses to view at the world, hate and distrust are the characteristics of those lenses we have. Most of what we have been told to believe is based on assumptions.

There are people who suggest that leaks do not provide anything new to them and that they are well aware of state of affairs. Question is that those who are accepting this fact innocently are the ones which have responsibility to provide guidance to the people who read them and listen to them. What are they signifying to their followers? Why they were quite before leaks appear? And what course of action do they suggest? It appears that high command of our army and most political parties are involved in conspiracies and behind the scene illegitimate manoeuvring of state apparatus, what does our intelligentsia has to say about them? What a common Pakistani should do?  As end of the day it is a common person who is paying the price, these are Pakistanis who are getting killed in terror incidents, it is amongst us who commit suicide because they can no longer survive in growing inflation and living expenses, it is from us who cannot have basic amenities of life, no health facilities, no education, no civil rights, no life protection, no law, growing corruption.

Why Pakistanis suffer? one reason is that their leadership is not answerable to them, they do not have any roots in the people and they do not want democracy to prevail in this country and that is why they look for external powers to support them and for sure, there is nothing like a free cup of coffee, it is all about give and take, so what they give in return of support they get? This is what our intelligentsia has to tell to the people of this country as they know more than they provide. Our media has a large responsibility to play and so as our scholars and intelligentsia, they are whom people of this country rely for opinion making and guidance, and they have to do justice. Power bearers in this country have to look at their own people for support and to achieve this task they will have to be sincere with the people, we Pakistanis do not need any sincerity from any outside power, as in international politics there can never be any friends or foes, and it is interests which prevails. Today’s allies become tomorrow’s enemies, history teach us that lesson. So it is interest of people which should come first, power must belong to the people, that is the only way forward, and that is the real message of those leaks in that Wiki.