The President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari embarked on a historic tour of the Russian Federation on 11 May 2011. This was a historic three day state visit, first by a Pakistani head of state or government in over thirty years at a time when Pakistan faces the threat of international isolation. Even without the increased importance due to the OBL operation one would think that the visit would at least make headlines in the Pakistani media as it justifiably did in Russian media, but alas the media groups in Pakistan have some unique criteria when it comes to deciding what should go on the front page and what should go on the back.
While as reported by South Asian News Agency, corroborated by the websites of Russian media outlets and commented extensively by the Indian press, the visit received to be precise, ‘extensive’ coverage in Russian media;
Pakistani media did not bother to report it in the headlines:
The Geo News 9:00 PM headlines on 13 May 2011:
Geo News Headlines on 13 May 2011
Or the front pages of Dawn News on 13-05-2011 and 14-05-2011:
The state visit was less important by a high court verdict, a test match which only a tiny portion of population bothers about and a cancellation of visit by an army officer to avoid the questions by US media and officials while the public is being fooled that this is being done as a sign of protest.
This is however, not the first time the media has de facto boycotted the visits by Presdient Zardari to a foreign land. A historic visit last year to Sri Lanka whereby he was greeted at the airport by the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse himself along with the entire Lankan cabinet failed to make it to the front pages or headlines.
Similarly the visits to Pakistan by Turkish President and Prime Minister last year were not important enough to grab a spot on the front pages of most dailies let alone make it to the headlines. This included a landmark address to the parliament which was covered on page 3 instead of 1 in most papers.
As the democratic government moves forward to complete its five year tenure, the media at large shows little signs or willingness to abandon its masters in Rawalpindi. Even in the midst of current debate it does not miss any chance to extol the institutions which have caused Pakistan international shame and isolation and continue to direct most of their criticism at politicians. One can only hope that while they are more interested in questioning Obama’s invasion of Kakul instead of focusing on Osama’s five year long vacation at the same spot; Pakistani masses will continue to stand behind the politicians and continue to see right through the sham of the three jeems.