Saturday, November 24, 2007

To support or not to support Pakistan and our media

The Sri Lankan media's reporting on the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister's 'blunder' in supporting the decision to support Pakistan makes an interesting study. Today's Sunday Times, in the political editor's column has the following to say:

Pakistan has been our steadfast supporter during our battle with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for nearly twenty five years now. Through military dictators and democratic leaders, Pakistan has not wavered. Bogollagama has been at sea on these matters. He first issued a statement asking that Pakistan be given time to restore democracy in that country. Then, the CMAG (Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group) of which Sri Lanka is a member Bogollagama gave Sri Lanka's assent to suspend Pakistan. The Commonwealth 'whites' viz., Britain, Australia, Canada and the New Zealand Secretary General Don McKinnon had prevailed upon Bogollagama, or so it seemed. (http://www.sundaytimes.lk/071125/Columns/political.html)

I am not sure why Bogallagoma made a change in stance wheras he speaking at an adjournment motion in Parliament on November 14th had stated,

I have just returned from London where I attended the extraordinary meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) convened by the Commonwealth Secretary General on Monday to primarily decide on “Developments in Pakistan”. Foreign Ministers from Lesotho, Malaysia, Malta, Sri Lanka and the UK and representatives of Canada, Papua New Guinea, St. Lucia and Tanzania participated in the session. I must say that Sri Lanka was able to play a pivotal role in ensuring that no precipitous action was taken with regard to Pakistan. (http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/8262)

(The ST reports that CMAG decidednot to ban Pakistan)

Now coming to the issue that i seek to highlight: While our media hastens to condemn action against the suppression of the freedom of expression in this country (sometimes selectively as it does) should it not express solidarity with its Pakistani counterparts when they are being silenced and subjugated? Our media in general private or govt are no different on ceratin matters. They are highly 'nationalistic' at the core and dont take moral and value based positions on ceratin matters. I havent seen a single newspaper that has had the guts to say that democarcay is important for Pakistani people and that Sri Lanka should take a firm stand on this against Pakistan. As evidenced by the Sunday Times reference to the support that the govt gets support for our 'war on terror', that is the only defining line based on which we will take decisions in this country. If its bad for the LTTE its good for us. If its good for the LTTE then its bad for us.

P.S. The implication that 'whites' are the only ones who are bothered about democarcy in Pakistan and that our leaders do not have the guts to stand up to them is 'cheap reporting'. Again evoking national sentiments; the whites reference shows how we still are affected by the 'negative colonial hangover'.

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