The state-run PTV has taken stern action against two of its journalists who appeared in pictures of a private party at the residence of US ambassador in Pakistan.Shaukat Paracha, Asma Shirazi, Meher Bukhari, Saima Mohsin are some of the names that were in attendance, in a Drink & Dance party hosted by the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W Patterson. In video: CIA Hosts Drink and Dance Party For Pakistani Journalists at US Embassy Islamabad,
CIA Public Relations at work? Do you expect this Pakistani media would tell you the truth and serves the interests of Islam and Pakistan? If you still believe that then may Allah help you and show you the righteous path before its too late for all of us.
The pictures, posted on Facebook by an American diplomat in December, were widely circulated by PakAlertPress, mainly because they showed several prominent TV journalists and talk show hosts drinking, dancing and having a good time with US Embassy Staff.
PTV’s management suspended senior producer Saghir Naqqash and an inquiry committee is contemplating similar action against Shakeel Awan, also a senior producer.
Government employees are not allowed to meet foreign diplomats without prior permission and only if their job descriptions justify such meetings. PTV is a state-owned television network. It is the only one so far to have taken action on the controversy over the leaked pictures. Other TV stations
including Aaj, ARYOne, Samaa News and Dawn News, all privately-owned, are not known to be contemplating similar action.
In May 2009, Pakistan Foreign Office warned government employees to avoid attending private gatherings at foreign diplomatic missions if they have no business being there and only after obtaining permission from their superiors. The order came after a US diplomat and an Indian diplomat arranged a private meeting with a group of senior Pakistani federal government bureaucrats at a private house. Critics accused the US diplomat of covertly facilitating contact between an Indian diplomat and Pakistanis working in important government positions, including one working as an administrator in the office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The episode had the word ‘espionage’ written all over it.
Apart from the two PTV journalists, who basically did nothing wrong except violate government rules of business, there was at least one Pakistani TV journalist at the party who is accused of peddling information provided to her by US diplomats.
Saima Mohsin [Left-in red] from Dawn News is accused of conducting at least one TV show where she blatanly sided with the US embassy against Dr. Shireen Mazari, a renowned defense analyst and longtime critic of US policies. Dr. Mazari was a victim of US embassy’s bullying when Ambassador Patterson tried last year to block her widely-read newspaper columns.
While the pictures from the party were harmless, they raised concern about how impartial Pakistani journalists can be in covering the news of US interfernece in Pakistani politics, which is a hot issue here, especially when the US footprint has expanded in recent months thanks to the entry into the country of tens of private US defense contractors, similar to those active in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last year, a senior independent journalist Syed Talat Hussain accused the US Embassy of recruiting “a motley crew of former diplomats, retired generals, socialites, slick civil society begums, self-styled analysts, businessmen, journalists, and now also lawyers” and said individuals in this group “are the darlings of the US embassy staff.”
For more information on Ambassador Patterson’s combative diplomacy, read this report. For a checklist of illegal activities of private US defense contractors in Pakistan under diplomtic cover of the US embassy.