Probing BBC’s Viewpoint on Pakistan’s 2018 Elections

Pakistani elections have garnered an unusual amount of attention from the Western media. Editors and representatives from Pakistan’s nepotistic and controversial newspapers have published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, and Washington Post among many.

None of the afore-mentioned newspapers ran a single piece challenging the narrative of those newspapers, not even letters to the editor criticizing the Op-Eds were published.

One of these articles was BBC’s Viewpoint: Pakistan’s Dirtiest Elections in Years. Like other BBC pieces on Pakistan’s elections, it provides no evidence for the assertions nor does it provide the reader with a clear picture of affairs in the South Asian nation.

In a stunningly brazen move, a hearing for a seven-year-old narcotics case involving Mr. Sharif’s PML-N party stalwart Hanif Abbasi was moved forward from August to 21 July, and a life sentence handed down at 23:30 on Saturday, four days ahead of the general election, effectively knocking him out of the race.

The article discusses how Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed served in military governments without so much as mentioning that both of the military dictators that he served under had an immense influence on the political success of Nawaz Sharif. General Zia was the one who brought Sharif into politics with Sharif publicly pledging to stand by him.

The second dictator was General Pervaiz Musharaff who dismissed corruption cases against Sharif and his cronies sparing him a decade-long prison sentence. Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed and Sharif used to be political allies and only fell out a couple of years ago.

Thousands attended rallies to welcome Nawaz Sharif back, but the media did not carry any of the protests in Lahore or Rawalpindi. Social media, in contrast, was flooded with pictures, videos, and discussion.

When Argentina crashed out of the World Cup, there were 5M tweets mentioning Messi even though no long marches or public rallies were organized in protests. Fancy that!

Contrary to the establishment’s expectations, the popularity of Mr. Sharif and his party held its ground after he was ousted on corruption charges in July last year. His accusations of military interference caught the public’s imagination.

The Sharifs won 2/3rd or 66% of the vote in 2013. A Quinnicap poll showed them leading Imran Khan only by 2% at 35% 3 months ago. The assertion that Sharif’s popularity held is a blatant lie even by Western polls.

……the [media] industry as a whole fell into line and none of the media houses dared show Mr. Sharif’s political rallies or his daughter’s fiery speeches.

A state body under the governance of Sharif’s party issued censure of some of his speech in which Sharif and his daughter attempted to incite violence against the state and courts. It even resulted in a Supreme Court Justice having his house shot at twice in the middle of the night.

Besides, Sharifs aren’t the only politicians to experience censure, MQM’s leader Altaf Hussain accused of the murder of hundreds of Pakistanis is also banned from giving public addresses. The British government chose not to prosecute him after discovering £1.5 Million in cash in his house and several sheets of paper showing a calculation of purchase of AK-47s and anti-aircraft weaponry.

Mr. Sharif seems to have won this round of the battle. Seen as a man who could have lived a comfortable life in exile and attended to his seriously ill spouse, he has returned to Pakistan to face certain incarceration in his fight for civil supremacy.

Another blatant lie! Human rights and anti-money laundering groups in the United Kingdom have repeatedly written to the British government (even prior to Pakistan Supreme Court’s ruling) about prosecuting the Sharifs in the U.K. and returning to Pakistan its’ rightful money. So far, Theresa May’s government has made as much progress on that as it has on Brexit.

Secondly, Sharif did not return to ‘fight for civil supremacy’. He returned with his daughter in good time because according to the law in Pakistan, he and his daughter had precisely 10 days to file for an appeal against their sentences, which they have.

Maybe they will finally produce the evidence as to how they were able to afford to buy $70 Million apartments while they paid less than $50 in taxes.

The article then presents a graphic showing that ‘activists‘ from Sharif’s party are facing some 17,000 criminal cases but what the author fails to mention is that his opponent Imran Khan also faces 35 criminal cases.

One important stat that might help shed some light on the truth is that while almost all 35 of Khan’s cases are filed in the Sharif-controlled state of Punjab, Sharifs face no ongoing criminal inquiries in Khan-controlled KPK.

The author calls Imran Khan the military establishment’s favorite without mentioning that Imran Khan has criticised military involvement in past elections a lot more than Sharifs have. Khan also publicly came out with a name of a high-ranking military officer whom he accuses rigged 2013 elections in favor of Sharifs.

As if citing tweet volume and Facebook posts don’t establish enough evidence, the article uses a video of a Pakistani High Court judge accusing the military of orchestrating Sharif’s demise. But again what the author did not mention is that the Judge faces some 5 criminal accusations of corruption and was days from being put on trial before uttering those accusations. Speaking out against the military before being tried is a common tactic in Pakistan for politicians and public figures to save face.

Going back to Mr. Abbasi’s prison sentence, the author completely omits any mention of Khan’s associates who are also facing criminal inquiries and are just as likely to be sentenced for their corruption. There is hardly a political party in Pakistan who is not facing impending criminal proceedings.

There are many more articles that BBC published to discredit Pakistan’s elections that we will break down soon. The assault on Pakistan’s elections is not even limited to the BBC. Financial Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and many other publications whose job is to report the truth are intentionally undermining Pakistani elections just because the likely winner, Imran Khan, has no financial ties outside Pakistan and is unlikely to be pressurized into surrendering Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal amid the country’s financial woes.

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