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Is ISPR Crossing the Line?

Hussain Nadim 11:29 AM | 26 Sep, 2015
Is ISPR Crossing the Line?
It’s no more a rumour. The ‘soft coup’ narrative, true or not, is now deeply imbedded in the national discourse. According to an editorial of a leading newspaper, the hard earned civil – military balance lost its pivot and the military is back in the driving seat running not just the foreign and security policy, but also the internal political and development policy. Be it Karachi operation, China Pakistan Economic Corridor or the Civil Services Reform, it’s the Sharif in military regalia taking the credit while the Sharif In ‘Sherwani’ is taking all the criticism. This narrative, whoever is peddling it, is dangerous not just for the sitting government but more so for the military itself.

Having an inside scoop of the government, I’m of little doubt that the idea of ‘soft coup’ is often blown up. A product of vivid imagination of two distinct groups; one fancying a military takeover and the other critical to the military, both converging at the same point: military is in control. What, however, is true is that there is indeed a civil – military imbalance, and nowhere is this imbalance more obvious than in the media and information sector. One tweet by DG ISPR weighs more than a collective effort by the entire Ministry of Information that reigns over several media related institutions including the PTV, Radio Pakistan and etc. While critics take this imbalance in narrative as a larger conspiracy by the military to weaken down civil institutions and democracy by a design, the fact is, it’s really a matter of professionalism as practiced on the two sides.

Take, for instance the ISPR, with its webpage, social media presence, and investments into filmmaking, and compare it with the webpage, social media and activities of the Ministry of Information – the difference will be obvious. This very small yet profound observation reflects the entire situation: A disconnected civilian narrative and information with too many outlets operationalized without a coherent strategy lacking vision and innovation. The result? Senior Cabinet Minister’s presenting different narratives, while Najam Sethi trying too hard to flesh a genius out of misplaced and incoherent communications strategy of the government. The military being good at what it does, hence, by default with a professional media and information management, when it comes to comparison, appears to be driving the country. And why not? With a celebrity status and a following of 1.34million people of DG ISPR on Twitter compared to the absence of his civilian counterpart on the social media platform, the military narrative is the national narrative.

This narrative, however, is dangerous in the long term. There is a very fine line in promoting a positive image of the military and the COAS, and when it slips off into a negative domain. The recent mass popularity, some organic, and rest promoted of Gen. Raheel Sharif has put him at an approval rate that no political leaders has ever seen, but it may be the right time now for ISPR to pull back, and tone down the campaign. Every media and social media campaign has a lifetime, and the important part is to know when to stop. The problem, looking at the history of Pakistan’s military, is that it doesn’t know when to stop. Riding the high wave comes with a greater risk. There are already critical and sarcastic voices erupting all over the country, and the social media mocking the military for making a messianic figure out of the Chief. Hashtags like #ThankyouRaheelShareef and noises are popping up that would damage the military and the Chief in the long run.

While the military is engaged in a very delicate internal operation against the militancy and corruption within the political parties, the fact that ‘soft coup’ has become the national narrative is a failure of ISPR. After all, what really is ISPR’s achievement if the entire country buys that there is a soft coup? While it may be entertaining for many, and not a perceived threat to the military at this time, but when this all ends, which it will, the end result of this very narrative will come back to haunt the military for playing a political role.

In this moment of national crisis, the ISPR needs to denounce, and distance itself from the ‘soft coup’ narrative. Learning from the mistakes of the past, a year or two from now, when the Chief won’t be in uniform, the current narrative of ‘soft coup’ that is defining him will be his biggest criticism. General Raheel Sharif has taken remarkable steps for Pakistan, and should be remembered for that, not for placing a ‘soft coup’ on the government. ISPR needs to be cautious with that.

Hussain Nadim
Hussain Nadim

Hussain Nadim is PhD Candidate and Coordinator South Asia Study Group at University of Sydney

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KARACHI - Following are the foreign currency exchange rates for US Dollar, Saudi Riyal, UK Pound Sterling, U.A.E. Dirham, European Euro, and other foreign currencies in Pakistan open market on January 28, 2023 (Saturday).

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 263.9 266.15
Euro EUR 275.75 278.5
UK Pound Sterling GBP 313 316
U.A.E Dirham AED 69.75 70.45
Saudi Riyal SAR 67.25 67.9
Australian Dollar AUD 178.5 180.9
Bahrain Dinar BHD 644.19 652.19
Canadian Dollar CAD 187.5 189.70
China Yuan CNY 35.71 36.11
Danish Krone DKK 35.38 35.78
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 30.94 31.29
Indian Rupee INR 2.97 3.08
Japanese Yen JPY 2.50 2.54
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 793.10 802.15
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 57.02 57.62
New Zealand Dollar NZD 156.69 158.69
Norwegians Krone NOK 24.46 24.76
Omani Riyal OMR 629.39 637.39
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 66.54 67.24
Singapore Dollar SGD 184.38 186.38
Swedish Korona SEK 25.31 23.81
Swiss Franc CHF 263.01 265.51
Thai Bhat THB 7.38 7.53

KARACHI – The price of a single tola of 24-karat gold in Pakistan is Rs204,100 on Saturday. The price of 10 grams of 24k gold was recorded at Rs174,990.

Likewise, 10 grams of 22k gold were being traded for Rs157,300 while a single tola of 22-karat gold was being sold at Rs 178,500.

Note: The gold rate in Pakistan is fluctuating according to the international market so the price is never been fixed. The below rates are provided by local gold markets and Sarafa Markets of different cities.

City Gold Silver
Lahore PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Karachi PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Islamabad PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Peshawar PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Quetta PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Sialkot PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Attock PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Gujranwala PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Jehlum PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Multan PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Bahawalpur PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Gujrat PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Nawabshah PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Chakwal PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Hyderabad PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Nowshehra PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Sargodha PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Faisalabad PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220
Mirpur PKR 204,100 PKR 2,220

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