In the midst of the many polarized directions in which Pakistan seems to be heading, Zaid Hamid who is a well known Pakistan security consultant and political commentator takes a stand alongside the fundamentalist party against the SAFMA. It’s no secret the ‘religious purists’ disapprove of any form of progressiveness. In accordance with that school of thought, Hamid filed a petition against The South Asian Free Media Association in the Supreme Court for treason against the state. While Hamid may be acting in what he believes to be the best interest of the nation, his allegations against SAFMA are inaccurate and his view point is counterproductive to the long term survival of an already weakened country.
For the sake of argument, let’s ignore how the effects of Hamids claim and focus on the credibility of his case. To begin with, Hamid accuses SAFMA of spreading “filthy Indian media”. Such derogatory remarks in a petition to the Supreme Court give us an insight into how Mr. Hamid thinks. Even if we dismiss this, the facts that Zaid Hamid gives are incorrect. In Section 2A of his petition, he says: “Jordanian Strategic Study Institute declared him in 2010 and 2011 as one of the most influential five hundred Muslims living in the world today”. It’s true that Zaid Hamid was declared the as one of the most influential five hundred Muslims in the world today but it was by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.
Another interesting aspect of Hamids case is of SAFMA being a covert operation funded by RAW. The ‘proof’ provided for this bold claim is the fact that members of SAFMA are living their “lavish lifestyles” and “lodging in luxury hotels”. If this passes as proof, one can easily convict a person for prostitution on the basis that he was seen walking past a red light district.
Now that we have analyzed the case that Hamid has put forth, we should pay heed to his motives behind it. In Section 1R, Hamid claims the media is waging a war to destroy the ideology of Pakistan and to damage the reputation of those involved in the conception of the nation. Hatred towards progression isn’t anything new but Hamid is pulling at straws with this claim. In this section, he accuses SAFMA of spreading Hindu culture and media in Pakistan. At the same time, he blames SAFMA for attacking Mohammad Ali Jinnah and doing the offence of portraying him as a liberal leader. During his short reign, Jinnah was adamant to maintain friendly relations with neighboring countries. In April 1947, he even pleaded for a common defense policy between India and Pakistan. Thus Jinnah himself may not have qualms regarding SAFMA the way Hamid has.
While this petition is damaging to Hamid, it is even more damaging to Pakistan in the international arena. To an average outsider, Pakistan is a warzone run by extremists. A case against foreign media on the basis of a vague suspicion of conspiracy is going to damage the nation’s reputation even more. Hamid needs to be reminded that Jinnah wanted his country to progress economically and politically, not fight amongst itself over petty issues. Foreign policy was of utmost importance to Jinnah. Pakistan became a member of the UN during his reign as governor general. As we can see from Jinnah’s priorities and dreams, wouldn’t it be much more patriotic of us to focus our energy on stabilizing the country economically and improving our reputation rather than suing each other for lodging in luxury hotels?