Pakistan Today & the War of Narratives

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Karachi, 21 August: “In the age of information, the war of narratives has become even more important than the war of armies, bullets and bomb. Perceptions are deemed to be more important than the reality.”

This was the theme of a presentation by Khalid Rahman, Director General, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, at the University of Karachi on Wednesday, 21 August. The program was hosted by the Dean Office, Faculty of Arts and Department of Mass Communication and was attended by a large number of KU faculty and students including Dr Malahat Kaleem Sherwani, dean, faculty of arts, Dr Tahir Masood, chairman, department of mass communication, Professor Inam Bari, Associate Professor Samina Qureshi, Dr Mohammad Taha, and Dr Shafiq-ur-Rehman.

Rahman was of the view that the term of a failed or failing state was being used in the media about Pakistan as part of the ‘war of narratives’. The positives of the Pakistani society and state have been deliberately kept hidden from the masses.

He argued that the imprudent attitude of Pakistani media was helping the enemies of the country. He quoted examples to support his argument and said that on issues like the attack on Indian parliament and the Mumbai carnage a propaganda war has been unleashed by the Indian media for long with such a force that even several questionable facts against their rhetoric were twisted by them to serve their own interests. The same was being done by the US vis-à-vis Iraq and Afghanistan.

Quoting further examples he said that the representation of Muslims as evil terrorists was so deeply etched in Hollywood consciousness that they were now used as standard plot devices even in narratives that have no connection with the Orient whatsoever. Especially, Arabs are portrayed in the films as the public enemy number one, brutal, heartless, uncivilized ‘others’ bent on terrorizing the civilized westerners.

The ‘war of narratives’ against Pakistan aims at shaking the confidence of its people in themselves, he warned, adding that international actors, in their bid to control the strategically important region were busy in manipulating the fault lines within the Pakistani society and dividing the people on the basis of language, geography, sects, political affiliations, economic conditions and even approach to life.

He called for a serious understanding of this grave issue and devising a national strategy at all levels to counter it.

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