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SETHI: SORRY STORY

Kamran Rehmat
hyderabad:10 may If one were to personify the alarming decline that the Pakistani media has undergone recently in terms of impartial, above-board, and honest political analyses, Najam Sethi would probably be the ultimate candidate.
Others may point to a slew of ‘competitors’ — particularly from one media house — to challenge the observation and may even land the argument given the brazen fare dotting the media landscape these days but then Sethi came from a different league altogether.
Armed with an envious penetration in the power corridors, both in Islamabad and Pindi, the political parties and bureaucracy apart from a long list of who's who elsewhere, Sethi embellished it with a neat grasp of issues.
However, he has lost ground rapidly in recent months — not because his ubiquitous chirya is out of form, but because he has allowed vested interest and a decidedly personal mien to take over better judgement.
Not surprisingly, Sethi has lost his mojo, coming across as highly partisan, often times with a petty demeanour, where he no longer even pretends to be fair. Notably, his spouse recently joined PML-N, the party he has been trying his damndest hard to defend, promote, project and guide while ridiculing any perceived individual, group or party that he deems would dare proffer competition. To this end, his condescension is palpable, and how he addresses PML-N's adversaries demeaning, and often, denigrating.
Now this would be relatively par for the course if Sethi had plumped for active politics. But to use media platforms to advance his patently biased and narrow political objectives is a travesty of the ethical standards that media persons ought to uphold.
The steep fall is a sad spectacle, but even sadder commentary on the nadir the media appears to have reached.
One could pick any of his shows randomly as evidence, but even the one hosted by Syeda Ayesha Naz the other day will testify to how he stoops: constantly badmouthing Sharifs' rival and deliberately, inciting the very institution he himself has been lambasting with abandon until recently “to take action”. Also, note how while freely passing judgements from a pedestal, he gets frustrated at why his favoured party is “making mistakes” and how Shahbaz Sharif should have defended Maryam Nawaz instead of describing her attack on Lt-General Faiz Hameed as a heat of the moment thing. Incredulously, Sethi wound up on Imran Khan's ambiguous reference to Siraj-ud-Daulah as a direct and studied attempt "to divide the army" but played down Maryam's pointed reference to Faiz by name as implausible for comparison!
If you do watch this episode, you’ll see how the programme is agenda-driven with choice questions, clips and preconceived pointers which appear even before a question is posited!
One has watched Naz do much better at Dunya’s ThinkTank, but now she appears to be a spectator at 24News, reverentially waiting for Sethi’s fulminations to complete so that she can quickly field the next planted question robot-like.
It’s probably a good thing Sethi rushed to meet Nawaz Sharif, who has summoned Shahbaz and other ministers to brainstorm for a strategy to overcome or get out of the current blues on the edge of Edgware. Now, if only Sethi can gather the courage to take the plunge, few will grudge him his ‘spurs’. After all, he has been tirelessly serving the party cause.

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