Journalists in Pakistan have reacted strongly to a remark where president Asif Ali Zardari likened them to terrorists.
A report on daily The News on Monday said that the Pakistani president told a delegation of businessmen from the troubled North West Frontier Province that “journalists are bigger terrorists than terrorists themselves.”
Journalists are the biggest terrorists, Zardari is said to have remarked while talking about the issue of terrorism in NWFP and federally administered tribal areas (FATA).
The paper quoted businessmen as saying that the statement “came out of the blue” and that there was “intensity of emotion when it was made.”
The paper said that the possible reason could have been the media’s vociferous criticism of the Zardari-led government for its handling of the situation post the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
“The president should remain apolitical but he is involved in the day-to-day affairs of the government,” said Arif Nizami, editor of The Nation newspaper, adding “and that is why he is in the focus of the media.”
Nizami adds with a laugh “if we are terrorising the government then we must be doing our job.”
Some journalists say it is possible that Zardari’s comments could have been taken out of context. But most are upset with him.
“When politicians are unable to deliver on their promises, they retreat to a bunker-like position and believe all sorts of conspiracies,” says Talat Aslam, editor of The News.
Many other journalists agree with his assessment.