1//The Moscow Times, Russia--A YEAR OF HARD LESSONS FOR THE MEDIA
(“Looking ahead to 2002, I expect that the state will continue to
try to strengthen its control over the media and that there will
be more pressure applied to "opposition" media outlets.”)
2//The Dawn, Pakistan--PRECIPITATE ACTIONS (“One hopes saner counsel
will prevail in New Delhi and it would realize the horrible consequences
flowing from a further escalation of the confrontation between the
two South Asian nuclear powers.”)
3//The Pioneer, India--MEASURED RESPONSE “(New Delhi has done well
not to fall into Islamabad's trap but to act in a manner that puts
the ball in the court of those countries urging restraint upon it,….
It has, however, not ruled out further action.”)
4//The East African Standard, Kenya--WHY NOT SPARE SOMALIA THE RAVAGES
(“But in the final analysis, it is really simple - the Somali warlords
are willing to co-operate with the US. For all their other sins,
why not give them a chance and spare everyone the ravages of war?
As things are, this region has far too many wars to keep it going.”}
1//The Moscow Times Friday, Dec. 21, 2001. Page 8
OPINION/COMMENT--A YEAR OF HARD LESSONS FOR THE MEDIA
By Manana Aslamazian
(Manana Aslamazian is general director of Internews-Russia, a non-profit
organization which provides support to independent regional television
broadcasters. She contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.)
The main events of 2001 in the Russian media have undoubtedly been
the change of ownership at NTV, with Gazprom-Media taking control
o the channel from Vladimir Gusinsky, and the ongoing legal problems
surrounding the Boris Berezovsky-controlled TV6, which is currently
undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. What conclusions are to be drawn
and what lessons to be learned from these events?
It is clear that state officials have become less tolerant toward
so-called opposition media outlets and are adopting a more interventionist
approach than was the case a few years ago. What's less clear, however,
is the level of the state administration at which these interventionist
impulses are conceived. Media companies (in particular television
companies), therefore, need to take all precautions -- insofar as
is possible -- to ensure a maximally risk-free existence.
This means, first, not borrowing or accepting money with political
or other strings attached, which could lead to an unhealthy state
of dependence and the attendant negative consequences. The case
of NTV and Media-MOST provides the most graphic illustration of
the risks associated with getting involved in this game. And second,
media companies need to make sure that all their legal paperwork
is in order so that they are not an easy target for attack on legal
So, the main lesson to be drawn from the events of this year is
that media companies have to do everything within their power to
minimize their exposure and vulnerability to pressure and "attacks"
from regional and federal authorities…However, not even regional
governors would dare to openly close down a television station for
providing critical or oppositional news coverage -- they will always
look for some legal technicality or other pretext. So the task is
to deprive the authorities, as far as is possible, of any such pretexts.
In terms of the news and current affairs content of national television,
this year has seen the differences between channels diminishing.
On the plus side, this points to greater professionalism and a more
balanced approach to reporting. On the negative side, it is an indication
that channels are exercising more self-censorship and worrying excessively
about how the authorities will react.
It is not easy to assess the role of Press Minister Mikhail Lesin.
For a government official he gets too emotional and involved in
situations where he should remain firmly above the fray. He would
do well to adopt a more neutral stance. Lesin is undoubtedly a clever
and effective manager, as well as being a good operator. However,
he is pulled in different directions and this is evident in his
behavior. On the one hand, as a former businessman he supports the
freedom of the media and views things through the prism of the free
market, while on the other hand the laws of
political survival dictate that he behave loyally. For a number
of reasons, I don't think he wants to strip TV6 of its broadcasting
license, but that does not mean that he will stick his neck out
in order to protect the channel to the bitter end.
Looking ahead to 2002, I expect that the state will continue to
try to strengthen its control over the media and that there will
be more pressure applied to "opposition" media outlets.
To conclude, the main dangers faced by the media industry are the
strengthening role of the state, economic instability (with the
attendant loss of advertising revenues), and a failure to learn
the lessons of this year and to learn from the mistakes that have
been made. In general, the media community would do well to pay
more attention to its common interests, act with greater solidarity
and to be fully cognizant of the potential dangers that lie ahead.
2//The Dawn 23 December 2001 Sunday 07 Shawwal 1422
EDITORIAL: PRECIPITATE ACTIONS
Pakistan has done well not to up the ante in the current crisis
in Indo-Pakistan relations. By deciding not to recall its high commissioner
in New Delhi, Islamabad has refrained from taking an action that
could have only aggravated the already tense diplomatic and military
situation in the subcontinent. That India should have decided to
recall its envoy in Islamabad and snap all rail and bus links goes
only to show the state of mind the Indian leadership is in. It has
taken this decision in spite of the risk inherent in hasty and precipitate
actions at a time when the crisis needs caution and restraint on
Since Dec 13, India has done everything except trying to establish
the truth behind the attack on the parliament building on that day.
One after another, it has rejected all offers by Pakistan to defuse
the tension: Pakistan pledged to take action against groups alleged
to be involved in the attack if only India would provide proof.
Islamabad also offered a joint inquiry and the US offered the FBI's
services for determining the truth behind the Dec 13 attack. New
Delhi rejected them all. Instead, it has continued to demonstrate
what a Pakistan spokesman called its "unifocal" state of mind by
continuing to blame and slander this country. It has also ignored
all pleas by friendly countries to refrain from taking unilateral
actions that could worsen the crisis.
Pakistan's decision not to withdraw its envoy is well-judged and
serves the cause of sanity. The world has noted that Islamabad is
not contributing to the tension generated by India; instead, it
maintaining its cool and doing all it can to avoid a worsening of
the already tense situation. It is quite possible that the Indian
leadership may not be wanting a war. But it is certainly playing
a dangerous game whose consequences it ought to know. Pakistan cannot
remain unmindful of India's troop build-up that includes the deployment
of 500 tanks along the Sindh-Rajasthan border alone. The danger
is that a mutually threatening build-up could lead to an accidental
war that no one may want.
Left to itself, India would do nothing to ease tension; instead,
it would continue to indulge in its favourite sport of Pakistan-bashing
and keep the tension alive. This is hardly compatible with the cause
of the US-led world coalition, which is still not through with the
anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. It is time India's friends
in the West, especially the US and UK, acted swiftly to counsel
restraint and circumspection to New Delhi. Pakistan, on its part,
is not in a jingoistic mood at all - it cannot be, given the situation
along its western border. The world knows this. One hopes saner
counsel will prevail in New Delhi and it would realize the horrible
consequences flowing from a further escalation of the confrontation
between the two South Asian nuclear powers.
3//The Pioneer New Delhi Monday, December 24, 2001
EDITS MEASURED RESPONSE
The Pioneer Edit Desk
The Government's decision to recall India's high commissioner to
Pakistan and terminate the plying of the Samjhauta Express and the
Delhi-Lahore bus service, has not come a day too soon. Warnings
and expressions of anger over Pakistan's continued perpetration
of terrorist outrages against this country have had absolutely no
effect; the Lahore and Agra summits in February 1999, and July this
year respectively, have been utterly barren. Nor have those countries,
particularly the United States which currently leads a multinational
coalition against terrorism, succeeded in making Pakistan mend its
ways. Some concrete action had, therefore, to be
taken, especially after the dastardly attack on Parliament on December
13, to convey to Islamabad that India's restraint could not be taken
for granted and its patience was not infinite.
Equally, something had to be done to assure the country's people-whose
anger, rising steadily over the years, had become explosive following
the death of security forces personnel in the attack on Parliament-that
the Government was going to act. In the event, the measures taken,
while leaving no one in any doubt that India was not afraid to act,
are not of such a nature as would trigger a war which this country
is keen to avoid despite its intense anger against Pakistan's continuing
perfidy. Indeed, Pakistan's ruling military junta, facing a serious
threat from fundamentalist Islamic elements in the Army and the
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the terrorist militias, which
are furious over its participation in the US-led coalition against
terrorism and what they consider to be its betrayal of the Taliban,
Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaida, may well want a war with India
to unite the country behind it and consolidate its position. Since
a direct offensive by Pakistan's armed forces would attract severe
international condemnation, the attempt would understandably be
to prompt terrorist militias like the Lashkar-e-Toiba,
Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al-Badr Mujahideen and the Harkat-ul Mujahideen
to perpetrate such outrageous terrorist strikes as would provoke
India to declare war.
New Delhi has done well not to fall into Islamabad's trap but to
act in a manner that puts the ball in the court of those countries
urging restraint upon it, giving them more time to prevail upon
Pakistan to end its cross-border terrorism. It has, however, not
ruled out further action.
Other measures, such as attacks across the international border
and the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir, on the terrorist
training camps in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK),
can be taken after everything else has failed. In that event, it
may well be war and India must be prepared for it.
4//The East African Standard December 23, 2001 (via www.somalianews.com/)
WHY NOT SPARE SOMALIA THE RAVAGES OF WAR
Posted to the web December 23, 2001 (Nairobi) (Labeled “news” but
reads like opinion)
Mr Julius Sunkuli was equivocating and prevaricating on Wednesday
this week. The Minister of State was addressing journalists on Kenya's
position on speculations that the US is about to begin bombarding
Somalia from Kenyan bases.
The minister said: "Kenya will play a positive role in the fight
against terrorism". Now I do not know what "positive" means. My
predicament is not made any easier when the minister says that there
are no plans for an offensive on Somalia from Kenyan bases. Regardless,
I am keenly aware that Kenya's leadership is the only one on the
globe, so far, to have demonstrated in city streets against Mr Usama
bin Laden and the terrorist force that he leads.
Do I, therefore, understand the minister to be saying that although
the Americans may not have asked to use our bases to pound Somalia,
should the request be forthcoming, we are inclined to accept? I
also note that President Moi has read the Riot Act to Somalia's
factional leaders. In unequivocal stern fashion, the President told
the Somali warlords that the whole world was watching them keenly.
Kenya might have to close the border with their woebegone country.
…But is it possible that before getting mixed up with terrorists
we could hold court with ourselves and answer a few prickly questions?
No one doubts that Somalia could be harbouring Al Qaeda elements.
In which case there is need to sort them out soonest. But is it
possible to give the dislocated Somalia leadership the same benefit
of doubt that the Talibans were given ahead of the siege of Afghanistan?
There has been
legion destruction of innocent limb and life in Afghanistan. Pictures
of maimed toddlers are still fresh in the global mind. If the Somali
leadership were willing to turn in any suspected terrorists, would
this obviate blanket military action against this limping God forsaken
nation? The mess in Somalia brings tears to your eyes. Now fancy
adding to these the legendary American cluster bombs.
Leaving this aside, there is a need to ask what the allied forces
have achieved in Afghanistan. If the aim was to overthrow the Talibans
then they succeeded. If it was to capture bin Laden and his friend
Mullah Muhammad Omar, then the mission is far from accomplished.
These are simply depressing words, coming as they do from the self-same
cowboys who promised the world to "smoke them out of their hideouts
like rats". So where is this fat rat called bin Laden? Can the fat
cats tell international fliers whether they should feel any safer
today than they did on September 11? Is it becoming clear that the
anger that informed the war against terrorism, justified as it was,
clouded the vision of those who have been at the vanguard of this
war? Billions of dollars have so far been spent in the hunt for
bin Laden. Bush is becoming famous for the phrase: "I want him dead
Judging from the abounding rumours on bin Laden, it is beginning
to look like Bush's desire could turn out to be forlorn hope. It
is emerging that a wiser method to track down bin Laden would have
been through intelligence rather than hard war. But of course Washington
wanted to humour her nationals in the belief that she was still
the toughest cowboy in town, even after her two towers had come
tumbling like the accordion. Looking for Mr Laden through a spy
not the kind of thing to massage the injured national ego. And yet
it might just have been the thing to do.
So where do you begin looking for bin Laden now? There has been
talk of the man disguising himself and sneaking to Karachi or back
to Saudi Arabia. But it is doubtful that the man is daft to do such
a thing. A man who hijacks four American planes one bright summer
morning is not the sort of fellow to be treated lightly. They say
where he is is anybody's guess? Suppose I guessed that the man underwent
plastic surgery long before September 11? Suppose I guessed that
having permanently changed appearance beyond recognition, he emigrated
to the US, whence he bemusedly watches the goings-on and commands
his worldwide army?
Bin Laden, an immensely wealthy and crafty man, has outwitted Bush
and Blair. Before Sunkuli gets mixed up with him, he may wish to
ask whether he is equal to the task. But in the final analysis,
it is really simple - the Somali warlords are willing to co-operate
with the US. For all their other sins, why not give them a chance
and spare everyone the ravages of war? As things are, this region
has far too many wars to keep it going.
Copyright 2001, Gloria R. Lalumia
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