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Monday, July 24, 2006

The Trouble with The Economist

In it's issue of July 6th, The Economist carried an article titled The Trouble with Pakistan, soft copies of which were was widely circulated by many via email.

While the title clearly conveys that the trouble lies with Pakistan, the article's first para ends with "it is clear why what happens in those two places is of huge importance to the rest of the world. From neither place is there much good news."

Strangely, too, while the para is itself headed A country that everyone should worry about - we discover, within the first three lines, that the country referred to means areas that cover "northern Pakistan and south-eastern Afghanistan".

Trouble with Language, I guess.

"My country, Right or Wrong" is not a philosophy I subcribe to, so I'd happily admit that many of the criticisms of the current government are valid. But it is the tone of the whole piece that is astounding. Placing itself at a higher level that many would grant it, the magazine - speaking of Pakistan's President - declares, rather arrogantly, "This newspaper was prepared to give him a chance on condition that ..."

 Huh? Excuse me.

Are we to believe that, had The Economist not been so magnanimous, the people of Pakistan would have had another President?

The article maintains that "none of General Musharraf's protestations can hide the fact that Osama bin Laden is generally reckoned to be holed up on Pakistani soil" — although one reads just as many reports from several (non-Pakistani) sources generally reckoning that Osama is dead!

A whole paragraph, under the heading, And then there's Afghanistan, quickly shifts to a discussion of Pakistan's contribution to the crises that country is undergoing. Despite the author's feelings (expressed later in the piece) that "Afghanistan may now, thanks to Pakistani meddling and Western neglect, gradually revert to what it was before September 2001", the trouble - for some reason - is deemed to lie with Pakistan.

The Economist, as happens frequently, is economical with the truth. While stating "The Taliban, after all, were in part a creation of Pakistan's ISI", it conveniently forgets to mention that the ISI role was nowhere comparable to that of the USA in setting up, training, arming, and supporting this group and its leader (then known here as USAma Bin Laden).

Once a fairly respectable magazine, The Economist has long sunk to the depths of biased reporting and attitudes that are nothing short of disgusting and, often, downright crude. Consider this sentence, bundling together several groups, that appeared in its Oct 27, 2001, piece, All we are saying: "Buddhists, vegans, pro-Palestinian activists and other radicals of all stripes ..."

That's when I cancelled my subscription.

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Blogger the olive ream said...

A wonderful post ZAK, and you were very right in cancelling your subscription.

Corporate media has lost all credibility and The Economist unfortunately is now conveniently being exploited to promote biased and radical opinions.

'The trouble with' the Economist piece is that it uses half-truths and "choice" facts to regurgitate the same opinion about Pakistan that has already been addressed by the radical, neocon influenced print media in the west.

Criticizing a government and country is fine but highlight ALL facts before forming an opinion.

The Economist unfortunately now practices the same type of political analysis as Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly.

25 July, 2006 11:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

By coincidence, I started subscribing to the Economist just about when ZAK cancelled its subscription. It's true the magazine is not what it was in the mid sixties, when I first read it. However, it remains very informative, and covers a much wider range of subjects compared to the old days. Whereas one can easily go through a copy of "Newsweek" in a day, it takes me most of the week to read the Economist.

I think it useful to read it regularly, so long as one is aware of the political bias, which they don't attempt to hide. When my younger brother was going up to Cambridge in the mid seventies to read Economics, his tutor sent him a list of preparatory reading, which included the Economist. Cambridge's Economics Department was then populated by radical Keynesians, but his tutor said of the magazine "They may be misguided, but remain worth reading"

Khalid R Hasan

27 July, 2006 15:51

Blogger Faisal Khan said...

Very well written ZAK. I actually went back and read the article and I agree. Most of all what pisses me off is that these "journalists" haven't the foggiest clue about Pakistan. Most of them have not visited our beautiful country and to top it all, their viewpoint are obtuse and jundgemental in my opinion.

28 July, 2006 22:08

Anonymous rayhan said...

Khalid R Hasan: I am not a regular Economist reader because it contains little of interest to me. When a particular copy does get read, as the one carrying the survey did, it is only because of some special issue (pun intended). While one is always interested in hearing an opposing POV, it needs to be intelligent. Bias is not an intelligent quality.

By not openly admitting to its biased viewpoint, for the commercial fear of losing some of its readership, The Economist does not even deserve the respect that a KKK newsletter gets.

29 July, 2006 09:09


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