Shaheen Sehbai: “Is Any Media Outlet Interested In The Other Side Of The Story Given By ISPR?”

Is Any Media Outlet Interested In The Other Side Of The Story Given By ISPR?

By Shaheen Sehbai

Washington – I tweeted on June 7 that I was in the process of writing a piece on “Why the Chief Neutral, proved by Shaukat Tareen as Non-Neutral as he asked Tareen to betray Imran Khan and help Shehbaz, is so sensitive and dead scared about his remaining four months in office. Something fishy, intriguing, alarming, unpatriotic.”

The tweet was based on Mr Tareen’s interview on ARY News TV Channel in which he himself broke the story that he was called by “the neutrals” which in common parlance these days means the military establishment. He did not specify who called him but later admitted it was the: “ISI Chief” and not the Army Chief. Four other economists were also invited.

I analysed his statement and commented that the “neutral” had asked Mr Tareen to betray his party chief Imran Khan and he had refused to join a delegation of Shehbaz Sharif government to present a unified face to the IMF for help. Tareen himself said he would only do so if there was an Interim Cabinet which obviously would be formed after the dissolution of the present National Assembly and the Shehbaz Government.

I may have been wrong to state that the “Chief Neutral”, or by implication the Army Chief, had asked him to do so but in another sense the Chief of the ISI is also one of the “Chief Neutrals”. Since Mr Tareen had not specified any, I also did not mean any specific person.

Yet the meeting and the discussion was confirmed. But under whatever circumstances, Mr Tareen chose to deny something, which I had never stated or mentioned. I never stated that Mr Tareen was asked to leave Imran Khan’s party and join the Government. But that is exactly what he denied. In my view it was an unnecessary spin, irrelevant and deceptive.

Then irritated by my tweet the ISPR jumped in and without reason hooked on to Mr Tareen’s deceptive denial and threatened me of legal action. I still don’t understand which law had been broken by me but the neutrals have a right to twist matters the way they want, or so it has been happening in Pakistan so far.

I had stated that I will write another piece soon in my tweet and probably that caused alarm bells to ring and created some sort of panic. It was unjustified and not required, as I had not mentioned any subject that I was going to write about. It may have been a pre-emptive strike, which may not work.

My tweet was seen by over three hundred thousand viewers and liked and re-tweeted by thousands but the ISPR statement was carried by numerous mainstream newspapers and TV channels including almost all Pakistani TV channels and print and web newspapers including Daily Dawn, The News, Daily Times, Express Tribune, Business Recorder, APP, The Print, Business Standard, Republic World, Newsweek Pakistan, Global Village Space, PhoneWorld, Gulf News, Devdiscourse, and many more. Some of these names appeared on my Google Alert.

Only Dawn asked me for my version of the story and no other newspaper thought it necessary to take the other point of view. I think this may have been due to lack of professional standards or other hidden pressures.

My response to Dawn was as follows and if any above-mentioned or other media outlet wants my version, it is given hereunder:

“I have seen news stories of a reported statement by the ISPR warning me of legal action and stating that Mr Shaukat Tareen, former Finance Minister, had also denied my comments. I could not find the statement on the ISPR website or their official Twitter account and my messages to ISPR to send me the text have remained un-responded.

“What has been reported is in response to a tweet in which I quoted Mr Shaukat Tareen’s statement on TV that he had been asked by a senior Establishment official to join a Government delegation and jointly go to the IMF. According to him he had refused and had stated that he would go only under an Interim Cabinet.

“After his statement in my tweet was my comment that the Establishment was trying to persuade Mr Tareen to “betray his party and leader, Imran Khan.” The Tweet also stated that I will soon write a story which will be revealing and shocking. I had not mentioned the subject of my upcoming story.

“So there is actually no original story but only a tweet. I have responded to Mr Tareen on Twitter as he issued his denial on Twitter. I believe there was no reason for ISPR to intervene in this matter. I will request all journalistic organizations to intervene and take up this matter if any further action is taken. All this is so regrettable as ISPR should be handling national security matters and not respond to Tweets which only comment on political statements.”


Categories: Pakistan, Pakistan Armed Forces

Tags: , , ,

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