Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Last week's poll, probing who readers thought were responsible for Benazir's assassination, is now closed. The results? Of the 70 people who answered, 47% believed Al Qaeda/Taliban was behind the attack, while 27% felt that government agencies had a hand in the killing. While 17% voted other, only 8% believed the government was behind the assassination. Just to put these results in perspective, the recent Gallup Pakistan poll [see January 14th post] found that nearly half of the 1,300 Pakistanis surveyed believed that government agencies or government-linked politicians were responsible for Benazir Bhutto's assassination, while only 17% believed the military/government's assertions that Al Qaeda and/or the Taliban were involved.

This week's poll asks CHUP! readers what they feel is the most immediate concern facing Pakistan. While I concede that the survey choices may be simplistic and may not fully grasp the depth of the country's problems, it still aims to gauge reader opinion and break down the most immediate issues in Pakistan. Please take a moment to participate, and remember the key word is immediate, not long-term.


Jesse said...

The difference between the CHUP and Gallup polls is interesting, but not surprising--this is an excellent example of just how much power a country's media can have over its population. For the most part, the media in Pakistan (while I was in Islamabad in Dec/Jan, at least) were highly critical of the situation, making sure to point out the flaws in the government's many responses to BB's assassination. Conspiracy theory or not, it was clear that the popular feeling was that the government and/or the ISI was behind the assassination. News channels like Dawn, however, were very good in their coverage of the situation, making sure to cover all angles and not get carried away with the theories flying around the country.

In contrast, the American and UK governments seem set on placing the blame solely with AQ/Taliban/Islamic fundamentalists. The CIA seems dead certain on Baitullah Mehsud being the mastermind of the attack, and the media--especially the US media--have decided to run with this story, not at all exploring the fact that Mehsud publicly denied involvement the day after the famous phone transcript was released. Of course, his statement could be lies, and it's certainly possible that terrorist groups could have been behind the attack. But, the Western media refuses to explore other theories, mainly because this particular theory is so convenient for the US government--it gives them another tangible force to point fingers at and revive hope that we can win the "War on Terror". For all the facts and figures presented by the media, it feels vaguely like we're back to the 1898 world of jingoistic, yellow journalism. Less pronounced, of course, but where are the other voices and stories?

This isn't the first time the Western media has taken a different stance than the media in Pakistan--think of the Western media's portrayal of BB herself. My work colleagues here in the UK and my friends in the US had no idea of the corruption accusations against her. I'm sure by doing a little digging, they could have unearthed some stories presenting the whole story, but the fact is that the mainstream Western media portrayed her as some sort of saviour of Pakistan. Why do the Western media outlets look the other way from the Pakistani ones? Are they not established enough? Are they not professional enough? Can we not trust them? Or are they running with stories that are against the US agenda?

Lastly, I'm not saying that everyone who voted in the CHUP poll was influenced by their country's media--obviously, we are all intelligent people who can make our own informed decisions. But, if we distributed the CHUP poll to a sample of average Americans/Brits and then compared the results with the Gallup poll, I'm sure we would see a clear split between the theorised responsible party and the stories printed in those countries' media outlets.

What I am saying, is that a balanced perspective is always needed--just because they are established, doesn't mean the Western media giants are always presenting the full story. There's a good mix of Western and Non-Western sources on this blog (though I'd like to see more non-Western sources i.e. Dawn, Al Jazeera English, etc), Kalsoom, and I hope you continue to keep it that way as the traffic grows.

Fahad said...

You know its a bad situation when in parts of the country you need to leave the house to get food (which you can't afford) but you are scared bc you aren't sure if the militants want to kill you or the agencies.
I'm sorry for the pessimism and hopelessness-- but it seems to be a recurring theme amongst Pakistani's, young and old, these days