Is Pakistan Terrorist? Front-page Perspective of Mainstream American Newspapers during Obama’s First-year

Awais Gillani, Xiang Zhou


US President Barack H. Obama’s first year of presidency, January 2009 – January 2010, observes unprecedented surge in overt and covert counterterrorism operations of American military and intelligence and drone strikes in Pakistan which is a non-NATO ally and a frontline state in the “War on Terror” since 9/11. For the last two and half years, Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism policies are being criticized by American academia, politicians and media and giving a speech at National Defense University in May 2013, President Obama vows to rebuild Pak-US relations. This article takes a closer look that what went wrong between the two countries and how the mainstream US press covered the phenomenon and played its social and democratic role for informed citizenry during Obama’s first year. Since US press works on the behalf of American public and creates a liaison between government and the people on important foreign policy issues thus it is pertinent to explore that how American mainstream newspapers opine about Pakistan’s position in South Asia, Pakistani politics and army/ISI, nuclear assets and US aid diplomacy in relation to Obama’s counterterrorism war to win the “War on Terror.” Applying Thematic Analysis method with the framework of Social Responsibility Theory of Press, propaganda and propaganda principles of Anne Morelli, the study finds that the press instead of reporting on Pakistan is running an anti-Pakistan information operation parallel to the military, foreign policy and strategic agenda of the “Golden Triangle” (the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon) to force Pakistan to bow in front of American demands to fight the “War on Terror” at the cost of its men, material, internal and external security and political stability. The mainstream newspapers support the idea of the “Golden Triangle” to control Pakistani politics, army and nuclear assets and they are manipulating public perception and opinion accordingly instead of doing objective reporting. Thus the study discovers obnoxious criticism against Pakistan based on incorrect, superficial and subjective reporting that portrays Pakistan as a country that uses terrorism as its official policy hence it is a threat to regional and world peace and poses danger to US security, foreign policy and strategic interests in the South Asian region.

Keywords: American newspapers and Pakistan, Press and foreign policy, 9/11, War on Terror, India-Pakistan-US relations, Kashmir, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden and Taliban, ISI, Drone/UCAV, Nuclear proliferation, US aid, Propaganda, Social responsibility of press, Thematic analysis.



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