Should we stop telling the truth?

Published: March 30, 2014

Raza Rumi's car which was attacked in Lahore on Friday evening. PHOTO: TARIQ HASSAN/EXPRESS

Another voice of sanity was attacked on March 28. Another journalist assaulted. Another member of the Express Group family saw his life flash before his eyes. TV anchor and widely-respected analyst Raza Rumi may have survived, but his driver did not. It is an old tale told afresh. What remains to be said?

Shall we point out that this is the fifth attack on the Express Group in eight months, leaving four dead and many wounded and scores afraid for their lives? Shall we say that the previous attacks still await action by the authorities in Karachi, Peshawar and now Lahore? Shall we, once again, throw out the statistic of 47 Pakistani journalists having been murdered over the last decade in targeted attacks, or reiterate that, until March, not a single conviction had taken place — and that too without uncovering the larger conspiracy? Or, dear reader, shall we just close shop, keeping in mind that we are no longer safe telling the truth and the state clearly cannot, or may not want to, provide us protection or even justice? Shall we, once again, refer to the words of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif just days ago wherein he pledged that his government would do all to protect journalists and ensure that perpetrators of such cowardly violence would be brought to book with the help of special prosecutors and other ways?

Shall we appreciate all the outpouring of support and condemnations from everyone in government to the media to civil society to international organisations — but point out that words do not protect our lives; neither do they console our near and dear ones or fix things for the families of Waqas, Khalid, Ashraf or Mustafa? Or should we promise you that we will continue on our stated mission to “defend the liberal values and egalitarian traditions we believe in” as we have for nearly four years now? Or tell you that this mission has cost us dearly, yet we have not, and will not, err from our stand? Or shall we just stop telling the truth; stop talking truth to power? Should Raza stop his show Khabar Se Agay? Shall we say that everything is well in this country of 180 million that was formed over six decades ago on the basis of so many promises and dreams, and for which hundreds of thousands left their homes and families? Shall we not condemn the violence and hate and bigotry and intolerance that have spread through this country’s core like a cancer, threatening every institution and every individual?

Shall we complain to you that journalism is one of the great collective commitments of any society yet other news organisations, who are our brothers and comrades in this noble struggle, do not even report on the repeated assaults on our employees, just for the petty issue of competition? Or that we stood firm by journalist Wali Babar in this very paper in one of the largest exposes run on his murder despite him working for a “rival” organisation? Or tell you we question how can we hope for anything from the government when our own industry doesn’t stand up for us?

Shall we point out that we are attacked for speaking the plain, unadulterated truth; and, at the same time, condemned, ridiculed and criticised for being soft when we step back for a brief moment to gather our thoughts after being threatened and assaulted time and again, with no recourse to justice or action? Or be hurt by the wild conspiracy theories about the attacks on Express? Shall we give you a disclaimer, in a “black-bordered box”, confessing that we are afraid for our lives, that our families are afraid for our lives? And should we add in that box that we continue to do our job of telling the truth despite this fear, and that, had we been “cowed into silence”, Raza’s car would not have been bathed in bullets on one of the main arteries of Lahore?

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • Toticalling
    Mar 30, 2014 - 1:33AM

    Those who kill journalists for telling the truth are cowards and know that their beliefs are so weak and faulty that they are afraid truth can damage their blind Faith. It is time we accept that what we belive may not be the right path and accept those who follow anotherr. After all if we are all searching truth, we should be on the same side of the fense.
    Hats off to those with courage. And shame on those so called guardians of narrow minded mindset. The culprits must be punished without mercy and condemned by all.

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  • SM
    Mar 30, 2014 - 1:56AM

    Whilst such attacks are to be condemned, the journalists and the media houses need to stop spreading their own propaganda on the reality of the Pakistan ideology vs. their own thoughts. They are opinion leaders who unfortunately seem to be working against Pakistan and for outsiders who will stop at nothing other than Pakistani fighting and killing Pakistani.

    The Media outrages even middle of the road people like myself when they try to shape public opinion into believing Pakistan was meant to be of a secular like India. If such was the case, we would have been okay in a united India. There would have been no need for a Pakistan Movement. But our so called “intellectuals” seem to think otherwise.

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  • Mar 30, 2014 - 2:00AM

    Why not any investigation on similar attacks/ incidents in the past has brought one to justice or not even be able to arrest ( i mean able to reach the culprits) forget about ensuring to prosecute ?. Either the police is incompetent or the perpetrators are protected. Organisations and affiliates are though well known who are against the thoughts and views of the likes of Raza Rumi.

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  • Unknown
    Mar 30, 2014 - 6:31AM

    Media propaganda still going on. Investigation not yet completed but blame game is going on. There is something really fish in this incident.

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  • Parvez Amin
    Mar 30, 2014 - 7:12AM

    Raza Rumi is a national hero. ET’s editorial has ensured that I watch all his programs. He deserves the highest recognition, medal or whatever, for public service above and beyond the call of duty. ‘Taking Notice’ is synonymous with ‘Doing NOTHING’. Please use ET’s investigative team to report on the fate of all the notices taken so far.

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  • Babloo
    Mar 30, 2014 - 7:32AM

    You have shown rare courage. most readers i assume feel helpless at the inability to protect you guys from the criminals who want to silence you. May God protect you all.

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  • Toba Alu
    Mar 30, 2014 - 9:34AM

    @SM:
    World history is full of examples in which original choices made by our ancestors have lost their relevance. Pakistan is here and it is here to stay (at least in the immediate future) however it is up to its present population to make their choices about what this country is all about. Why can’t you think out of the box? Secularism might be a solution to many of Pakistan’s current challenges. Mind you, if you only want to preserve the past, your ancestors would have never become Muslims either. So don’t argue about what it was meant to be, but what you want it to become.

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  • vaqas
    Mar 30, 2014 - 10:01AM

    @SM:
    Your distorted theory does not make a religious state a viable option in any way. Sooner people like you realize that the population in this country is too diverse to follow any single religion let alone a single sect, and the only way to progress lies in a secular ideology the sooner this country can start its rebuilding process. And to answer your question. It was the fear of discrimination and persecution that lead to the formation of this country for the muslims as a people not as a religious country, so that each may live their life in peace and security. It was never built for one sect to impose their beliefs on another.

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  • Feroz
    Mar 30, 2014 - 11:11AM

    While everyone agrees that the forces of extremism bloodying the land have to be countered, success would have been a lot easier to come by if it had been nipped in the bud when it first raised its head. The Objectives Resolution was the first fatal step in the path chalked out by the State, at that time there were more moderates than fanatics but could not find the spine. When Tribals were first used in Kashmir in 1948 it signaled the birth of non State actors and abdication of the country from its role and duties and set in motion the process of using citizens as cannon fodder. The launch of multiple attacks on neighboring countries by proxies of the Establishment should have been flagged and the opportunity to reign in renegades was lost. The 26/11 Mumbai massacre the last opportunity for clean up and weeding out terror elements from within the Government was also squandered. No one was hauled up for protecting OBL or sheltering the Taliban or Haqqani factions who used Pakistani territory and launched murderous attacks on the neighbor. Now when Pakistan battles for survival it has no friends, those who call countries like Saudi Arabia a friend have no idea who the enemy is. One feels very sad to see the fate of innocent citizens falling victim to crossfire and ideological confusion propagated by the State.

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  • Anon
    Mar 30, 2014 - 11:13AM

    Should we stop telling the truth?

    You’d have to start first.

    Journalism is a joke these days. Everybody has an axe to grind, and shamelessly does so. There are no checks and they are answerable to no one. Anybody with any agenda start putting out whatever they want. These arent newspaper, they are propaganda machines.
    Some just go to the highest bidder regardless of ideology. Others twist stories to support their own opinions/ideologies… Things they would probably not be allowed to get away with in other countries.
    Quite a few in the english-language media are just clueless… just throwing around buzzwords theyve seen in the american media.
    Journalists wordwide, and particularly in Pakistan, are serving no higher purpose than amassing wealth for themselves and profits for their financiers.

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  • King
    Mar 30, 2014 - 12:49PM

    @SM, nice justification for the attack on Mr Rumi and a good apology on behalf of the attackers.

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  • Sohraab
    Mar 30, 2014 - 2:24PM

    Well…you all should be mentally ready now for such incidents as very soon this so called “country” will be managed by the Islamists through their reps in the form of this current Government. Former ISI chief has correctly said that this country is gone to Dogs!!!

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  • Toba Alu
    Mar 30, 2014 - 2:47PM

    Not posting my comments is proof of the truth.

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  • Professor
    Mar 30, 2014 - 3:44PM

    The truth must start in the textbooks that children read. When those are filled with fables and lies, it is hard to make them “unlearn” the stuff that they grew up with. You can bet that they will not make model citizens.

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  • amir jafri
    Mar 30, 2014 - 4:47PM

    Aslong as The hegemony of the master’s language, clothing, food and music continues , the slaves will continue to revolt. Be Desi , behave Desi…all will be well.

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  • Mar 30, 2014 - 5:55PM

    @SM: Dear sir you have said “the journalists and the media houses need to stop spreading their own propaganda on the reality of the Pakistan ideology vs. their own thoughts.’ I am sorry to say but it is such thinking that is the biggest enemy of human race. If you have your fixed ideas about ideology of Pakistan, please understand, others also have the same right. Further when you say “They are opinion leaders who unfortunately seem to be working against Pakistan and for outsiders” you are suffering from imaginary phobia ingrained by sheer propaganda by self serving ‘thekedars’ of religion in Pakistan who spread only hate and even divide Muslims. Please let others have their say and you choose what you want and not kill others.

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  • Toticalling
    Mar 30, 2014 - 6:41PM

    @Anon:Journalists do not kill, they do not force others to change thinking. Telling an opinion, which may not be reasonable is something we should respect, as we have the possibilty to refute such arguments..
    The problem with these killers is that they force people to tell lies to please the fundamentlists. As it is, many poweful people in Punjab and elsewhere are giving funds to these religious groups to stay afloat. If it goes any further, we will have only ‘one’ truth, which the conservatives want us all to follow.
    That will be the beginning of the end. We will get there soon unless we all stand up and fight against them.

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  • SM
    Mar 30, 2014 - 8:23PM

    The fact is that Pakistan was made in the name of Islam – and the majority of Pakistanis want shariah to be the guide for the laws of the land.

    Let us do a referendum to see what direction Pakistan needs to take…

    Fair enough?

    Our constitution is very clear as to what needs to happen… however, we choose not to implement the constitution.. Those who claim that the constitution should be supreme… let them read the constitution and ask for implementation of the clauses of 1973 constitution. How about that?

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  • SM
    Mar 30, 2014 - 8:29PM

    Let us have a referendum on what the 180 million Pakistanis want – secularism or laws that are in line with Islam…

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  • Toba Alu
    Mar 30, 2014 - 10:53PM

    @SM
    Your referendum proposal is quite an answer. Let have referenda in all countries where Muslims are in the minority and ask whether they want more Muslims or less. Not only silly but pretty dangerous as well. Certainly when righteous people like you are of the opinion that the winner takes all.

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  • Anon
    Mar 31, 2014 - 10:42AM

    @Toticalling: I’m not advocating terrorists over journalists!

    However, while journalists do not kill… part of their job these days is definitely to provide cover to those who do…. if the price is right.

    they do not force others to change thinking – what exactly is their job? They might not use guns and bombs, but the field of propaganda and “media management” exists for a purpose! Governments and lobbies dont just throw money into this field for no reason….

    And as far as the fallacy of ‘as we have the possibilty to refute such arguments..’ is concerned, good luck taking on Geo once they decide to go after you. Major media organisations… especially those not answerable to anyone… have pretty much a monopoly on the truth. These guys even censor comments they dont agree with. I’m just hoping this one makes it! No matter how truthful and balanced you are, you will still need a news channel (big money) to compete with them.

    And finally, this ridiculously tribal “conservative vs liberal” divide! In a country where people are starving, and the elite is robbing everyone blind, its hardly relevant. Its just a new divide created to keep people at each others throats. So people that people still vote for thieves and murderers because after all… they are ‘liberal’ thieves and murderers… And vice versa!

    Conservatism didnt destroy this country… dishonesty did!

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  • yousafhaque
    Mar 31, 2014 - 10:53AM

    @SM:::Would you please elaborate the basic objectives of ‘Pakistan movement’.It will be of great service to the lovers of Pakistan.Otherwise the confusion about the causes behind creation of a new country,by separation from the mainland,is increasing by the day.We have already lost half of our country simply because we could not understand the basics,and the importance of all the sacrifices made in the process by our elders.As you seem to know all the facts it will be very kind of you if you share your knowledge with others,so that this dispute about who did what and for what is settled once for all

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  • talat haque
    Mar 31, 2014 - 7:05PM

    Has the ultra right held a referendum that gives them the right to impose their brand of Shariat on this land? Who are they and who do they represent? Islam is being followed by all that actually do follow it to the best of their “taufiq” …………. stop threatening the people with a referendum of any kind ………… this is a land thousands of years old with diverse peoples ……… don’t turn it into a ghetto ………. it has to give equality to each and every individual of this land ………. no more laws like child marriages……….. we need to STOP

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  • Nader
    Mar 31, 2014 - 8:33PM

    I like express news,these coward peoples will never succeed for thier personal aims.how many u will killed,express news will be on the top and will tell the truth whats going on.i and all pakistani peoples have sympathy with you. We have full support for express news and its team.Recommend

  • SM
    Mar 31, 2014 - 8:36PM

    I posted a long note but as usual Express Tribune refused to post it. The note illustrated from the speeches of the Quaid all the references to using an Islamic system.Recommend

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