Media Watch: Journalists covering MBS | Pakistan Today

Media Watch: Journalists covering MBS


He’ll be driven from the airport to the PM House by the PM himself. He’s going to be met by only the apex sliver within top tier within the highest echelon within the government. The air force is going to be closely guarding the airspace of the capital while the entry and exit points of the city are effectively going to be blocked. A couple of days off for everyone other than Essential Services. He’s going to be given a flypast by the Sherdils, the PAF’s premiere aerobatics squadron.

The government is bringing out all the bells and whistles in its welcome to the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. Not to imply he’ll be impressed by all those bells and whistles. After all, the man is bringing his own cook. And gym. And toilet. And sofas.

Covering this Bacchanalia of a sarkari welcome would be members of the battered press. Squeezed on one side by a censorship the likes of which we haven’t seen in recent times, and a crippling financial crisis on the other, we can’t really expect much courage from the press corps. But the fact of the matter remains that the man whose giddy welcome they would be covering is allegedly behind the Jamal Khashoggi episode.

Given how the deep state is invested in this current visit, the journalists would know what lines not to cross. If they are scared, that is another (albeit sad) story. But one really has to marvel at the rest from the community, who are absolutely unmoved.

There being a token protest from the journalist community for a fallen fellow comrade would have reflected well on the country, in addition to being the right thing to do.

Post-script: It would appear that the start of a much feared crackdown on social media is going to take place with respect to the visit. An interior ministry has contacted the chief secretaries and inspectors general of police of all four provinces, in addition to the FIA boss and the PTA, in a correspondence titled: Social Media Campaign Against Visit of VVIP’s delegation.

“Reportedly,” it reads. “To project a negative perception about the forthcoming high profile visit of VVIP’s delegation to Pakistan, a targeted campaign is currently underway on social media maligning the VVIP’s delegation / Pakistan govt for certain vested and nefarious interests/agendas.”

The organisations against whom action is being initiated all appear to be like sectarian-based outfits, opposed to the sect in power in Saudi Arabia. Now though one is usually hesitant of siding with any sect or, indeed, any religion, in such matters, the fact remains that as citizens of the country, they should be allowed to criticise anyone that they want. The law doesn’t allow incitement to violence. Short of that, views can be rough-around-the-edges, distasteful and even just plain wrong, but never illegal.

The Tube

Media Watch column is meant to offer commentary on the affairs of the media.

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