New York Times’ in their coverage of the Pakistan 2018 elections have left out crucial details. Leading up to the elections, NYT published Op-Eds from Pakistani newspapers that had close ties to the incumbent party PML (N) and drove a significant portion of their revenue from government ads.
Since they were Op-Eds, we cannot reprimand them for leaving important facts out even though we do question NYT’s refusal to publish challenging voices in the form of letters and Op-Eds. But even when it comes to reporting, New York Times reporters are just as likely to misconstrue and misreport.
Reporting on the results from Pakistan elections, the New York Times made unsubstantiated assertions to try to sow doubt about the elections.
Talking about the delay of the announcement of election results, the report reads:
Many observers said it was unusual that the election commission had not completed at least some of the race results by early Thursday morning. The elections began Wednesday morning.
Yes, most of the times, the ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) announces results by early morning but what the reporter fails to mention is that ECP was a target of a cyber-attack last night that knocked off its’ servers. As a result, ECP officials are counting the ballots manually just like they had been throughout Pakistan’s history. 2018 election was the first time, ECP tried to go digital and failed miserably.
Even BBC despite their disingenuous reporting acknowledged it in their reporting this morning.
Violence did mar the Pakistan elections but locations of the areas where violence occurred are an important factor. The NYT report left it out.
Several suicide bombers struck candidates and campaign events before the voting, killing more than 150 people.
Almost every violent activity targeted areas that had very low voter participation rates and that were a hotbed for anti-Pakistan rhetoric. A middle-aged politician in the state of Baluchistan died when a terrorist attacked his campaign rally. The highest military official in Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa attended his funeral and expressed sympathies to his family.
The location of this attack is quintessential to understanding the campaign to undermine the Pakistan elections. He was contesting elections in an area that was a battleground between armed rebels and Pakistan forces. Despite threats to his life, he campaigned publicly and expressed his vehement support for Pakistan.
The BBC wrongly framed it as an incident where fundamentalist terrorists killed a secular politician. He was not campaigning specifically on secularism and proposing amendments to the Pakistani constitution was never a part of his campaign platform.
The attacks on campaign rallies were too sophisticated and well-coordinated to be pinned just on terrorists, they reeked of high-minded intelligent efforts to undermine the people’s faith and participation in the democratic process.
Talking about Pakistani women outvoting their male counterparts in some of the most fundamentalist areas of the country, the NYT mistranslated the reason given for low female participation in ONE village.
More Pakistani women than ever were registered to vote this time around. But in one village near Peshawar, in the north, tribal elders blocked hundreds of women from voting on Wednesday. They said the matter was simple: Women should never leave the house.
The reason given translates more aptly along the lines of ‘Women should NOT leave the house’ as opposed to ‘never’. The reasoning is nevertheless unacceptable and a crime under the law of Pakistan. But using ‘never’ as opposed to the more correct translation ‘not’ carries a more fundamentalist and absolutist undertone while using not says that ‘elections are just not worth getting out of the house for’.
Talking about the ‘power that military generals wield’, the NYT report looks over the ground reality that more Afghan territory is under Taliban control than when the United States first invaded (64% v 70%).
Even during civilian rule, the country’s generals have wielded enormous power, setting the agenda for the country’s foreign and security policies and tolerance of extremist groups — including the Afghan Taliban in its fight against the United States-backed government in Afghanistan next door.
Also, he fails to mention that the United States is trying to forge a similar relationship with the Taliban that Pakistan is accused of maintaining with them. A State Department official this week acknowledged that the United States is trying to reach a settlement with Taliban after the greatest military might on earth failed to oust a few ill-equipped ill-intentioned ragheads.
Towards the conclusion, the reporter mentions the prison sentence of the ousted Prime Minister ‘two weeks before elections’.
The leader of what had been the pre-eminent party, Nawaz Sharif, a three-time prime minister, was jailed by an anticorruption court less than two weeks before the elections.
The fact of the matter is that even if the court didn’t hand down a prison sentence 2 weeks before elections, he was disqualified from running for a public office. After revelations in the Panama Papers, the Supreme Court of Pakistan asked him how he had managed to acquire $70 million apartments in London while he showing an income of less than $500 a year.
The court held hundreds of hearing but Sharif could produce no evidence establishing his source of income that matched his lavish lifestyle and real estate portfolio. Thus, he was jailed on corruption charges. But even before the prison sentence, human rights and anti-money laundering bodies in Britain had written to the government to ‘return to Pakistanis their rightful sums’. Are the Pakistani Generals so powerful that they can pressurize British organizations as well?
……. many members of Mr. Sharif’s party have deserted him and maybe not by choice. Evidence is mounting that the security services threatened or blackmailed them.
What evidence? Where is the evidence? The reporter provides no sources or credible proof that establishes the military’s pressure to force Sharif’s compatriots away from him. Sharif’s closest compatriot and the most pro-military voice in his party lost every seat he was contesting.
The New York Times ran disingenuous articles in the events leading up to the elections in Pakistan and they show no signs of stopping after their conclusion.