Friday, September 25, 2009

The wolf in a journalist's clothing

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn (, which I have been following for a couple of years now, generally tends to be slightly more responsible than the papers of its class. Aside from the letters written by its readers, the most hatred and disregard for logical reasoning and the norms of civilized debate is shown by its regular columnists Javed Naqwi and Kuldip Nayar, both based in neighbouring India. Hatred for what? Generally speaking, India, the West, democracy and liberal values.

However, I was more than usually shocked to read an article about Pakistan's nuclear program architect titled "A.Q. Khan in the news again" by Cyril Almeida, published today (25 September 2009) at

And what was shocking?

> The security establishment/army high command
> has acted foolishly (Kargil and support for
> militancy beyond its sell-by date are just
> two examples), but nuclear weapons are an
> entirely different category.

Firstly, the notion that militancy (i.e. terrorism, i.e. the indiscriminate murder of civilians) was acceptable till a certain point, as implied by its "sell-by date". What was this date? A point till which the support for terrorism could remain secret and would be without consquences? (Of course, nurturing terrorism is seldom without consequences - it affects generations and societies, and can come back to haunt one, as the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan can probably testify)

Also interesting is why the journalist implies that nuclear weapons are somehow holy, and beyond the reach of those with dastardly designs. If you train militants, surely there is a chance that they, the trainers and the trainees, will use all means of violence to achieve their ends, and not just the ones on the lower side of the scale.

> In any case, it can be argued that the
> government is barking up the wrong tree
> by going to the courts because the law
> is not geared to deal with hard cases
> such as A.Q. Khan.

This is the repellent bit. Is not a lynch mob being summoned here? "The law is too good for him, bring on the noose"! Of course, the journalist attempts to absolve himself by the phrase "it can be argued", i.e. he himself is not arguing it.

It can be argued that the earth is flat, or, at least, was flat, till 1360. It ought to be argued that journalists should have the courage to stand up for their opinions.

And then, towards the end, the journalist drops all pretence of being civilized.

> After all, if one thing is certain it is
> that Khan is a man with a big ego. Hack
> away at his standing in the domestic public
> eye, and he may choose to live out his days
> in quiet retirement.

A man with a big ego? Do not all men have big egos? And all women? And everyone else? Or does the journalist possess the skill of looking into the thoughts of another human being and measuring the size of the ego?

And then he calls for destroying someone's reputation, not on the basis of the other person's actions, inactions or published beliefs, but because doing so would profit some agenda that the journalist holds dear. This is the most despicable of incitements.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against wolves and do not seek to imply that they would ordinarily have anything to do with journalists.

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