Pak media accused of “churning out anti-American conspiracy theories”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - Most participants of the US-Pakistan Leaders Forum, which was convened by the US-Muslim Engagement Initiative- a non-governmental, non-partisan collaboration of four US-based organizations, agreed that the Pakistani media was “guilty of churning out a steady diet of anti-American conspiracy theories and rhetoric,” noted South Asian affairs analyst Lisa Curtis has said.

Amid the tense bilateral row between the United States and Pakistan over double murder accused CIA contractor Raymond Davis’ detention issue, civil society leaders from both nations met in Lahore from February 17-19 to “highlight the immediate need to recalibrate the US-Pakistan aid relationship.”

Curtis noted that much of the discussion centred on the role of both American and Pakistan media in shaping perceptions and misperceptions about the other side.

“Most participants agreed that the Pakistani media was increasingly biased in its reporting on the U.S. and guilty of churning out a steady diet of anti-American conspiracy theories and rhetoric,” said Curtis, who is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia at the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.

“While some journalists and editors admitted they sometimes came under pressure to run stories by the intelligence establishment, they also said their newspapers and satellite TV stations were largely responding to the public mood,” she added.urtis said that the participants also criticised US media coverage of Pakistan, indicating that the US tended to cover only negative news in Pakistan, and that the coverage was often shallow and one-dimensional.

“Furthermore, there was a general lack of understanding of the local drivers of conflict in Pakistan and a mischaracterization of the role of religion in the conflict. US audiences tend to see a secular-religious divide as driving the conflict in Pakistan, when the ground realities are much more complex,” she added.

Talking about the US-Pakistan aid relationship, Curtis said that after providing over 6 billion dollars in US economic assistance to Pakistan over the last nine years, representatives from both countries complained that there was very little to show for it.

“For instance, a 75-million-dollar U.S. grant for teacher training was badly mismanaged and virtually wasted. All agreed there were serious structural problems in the way U.S. aid is delivered that need immediate attention,” she said. (ANI)

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