Pakistan-MediaFrom the venom pouring out in the newspapers and electronic channels of one media group it seems that a choice has been made. The policy given or adopted by all who are associated with this group is to use all and every means to defame and run down an intelligence agency. The journalist whose shooting triggered this shameful onslaught does not matter. Nor does the image of Pakistan. Nor does the impact on those who are laying their lives on the line. What matters is that the group does what it has been trying to do for quite some time—destroy the credibility of the ‘establishment’ and undermine it. Pakistanis are waking up to this reality and they are connecting the dots to make a picture. The picture that is emerging is not pretty.

There are some big name journalists, writers and analysts who are associated with this media group—-far bigger and far more credible than the unfortunate journalist who was shot. They will have to choose and choose quickly whether the pay packet or personal friendships are more important for them or whether they wish to quietly disassociate themselves from the policy being pursued. Some small time columnists, who have made their bones by what they think is ‘macho’ writing against the ‘establishment’ and making startling disclosures that create ripples for a day or two, are likely to stay the course and try and outdo each other to please their masters. They may also be trying to get their own back over perceived wrongs done to them in the past.

Some elected personages who had covertly begun hobnobbing with the group and its anchors and analysts should decide whether they want to continue under threat of blackmail or they want to bite the bullet and get out while they can. Soon it may be too late. Analysts who were showing up on media debates and discussions need to think hard about their choice of channels where they want to show up. Advertisers must also consider whether their finances are going in the right direction or are they supporting the wrong people.

Sometimes when you are on a roll and riding high you think the sky is the limit. You go on and on as people flock to you with ideas. Soon you are thinking of what your power and money can get you—-you seem invulnerable. You think you have the power and the means to destroy any one who raises his voice against you—after all you command the air wave. The money rolls in from advertisements and the government woos you with perks and privileges. International forces quickly identify your damage potential and give you a larger than life image. You think you are using them whereas actually they are using you for their own agendas. A mantle of religiosity and doling out of ‘rewards’—even babies— on carefully contrived TV shows swings the public towards you for what they can get. What can go wrong? There is the adage that the bigger you are the harder you fall and there are limits to the hurt you can cause to others before retribution starts. The downfall starts when small—tactical steps—taken without consideration cumulatively become a disastrous strategy. Once this happens it is too late to correct course.

Right now it may not be too late. The right choice can be made. For this thinking must go beyond selfish and narrow interests and egos. Thinking has to be about the country that you may not be living in but that you belong to and owe to. Once that is done the right choice stares you in the face. Going over the abyss and taking everyone with you is something only Lemmings do and it serves no purpose whatsoever. Step back, think big and objectively and choose wisely.