Imagine my shock and surprise when I saw 'Breaking News' on Express TV just before 7pm tonight that the entire sordid cricket spot-fixing saga had been one big fraud engineered by the Indian intelligence agency RAW in collusion with the Indian International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar, the News Of The World newspaper, and RAW's paid agent Mazhar Majeed, who according to this report, received 50,000 pounds from the intelligence agency to enact the drama.
This was just before the three blasts in Lahore today which have killed some 28 people so far, so the story sort of got buried for a little while. But it was repeated again in the 8 o' clock and 9 o' clock news and even sort of referenced in Mubasher Lucman's programme at 8 o' clock, where some unknown "analyst" (identified as one of Daily Express' editors) claimed he had been saying from the start what everyone now knows, that the whole scandal had been manufactured to ruin Pakistan cricket. I was later told that Aaj TV had also run the same story aggressively.
There was one little problem with this expose, however: it cited no sources. In the 'Breaking News' just before 8pm, Express TV claimed the source to be "a British newspaper" without naming it. In the 8 o'clock and 9 o'clock news, the source had become "media reports." This vagueness (if there is such a earth-shattering story, wouldn't it make sense to tell viewers who managed the scoop?) and the fact that neither Geo nor any other channel had run the report (as far as I know) of course immediately set the bullshit alarm off. So I decided to follow up and see where this news had originated from.
It didn't take much to be honest. A simple Google search revealed the only source: the rag known as The Daily Mail. No, not the right-wing mainstream UK newspaper (no great repository of truth itself), but the purveyor of all conspiracy theories headquartered in Islamabad which pretends to be a global paper and which is a favourite of Zaid Hamid acolytes like Ahmed Quraishi. Although fronted by a man known as Makhdoom Babar Sultan, here's a hint to what it's actually about: most of its op-ed writers are retired faujis and its focus seems plainly to be crude propaganda about India. No points for guessing who's probably behind it.
The funniest part of the whole episode is that apparently Aaj TV even ran the logo of the actual UK Daily Mail along with its story and Express TV were so taken in by the name of the source (as well as probably its ambiguous logo that has two upright lions in it that make it look vaguely British empire) that they just assumed the source was "a British newspaper." So much for fact checking at Aaj or Express TV!
But more troubling is the fact that once Express TV figured out that the sensational news was not coming from the UK's established media, it continued carrying the story as something credible and simply started calling its source "media reports." Which of course means jack-all, especially considering the background of this rag. Here is the actual story in the paper which you can read and judge for yourself. One word to the wise: don't believe any of the bylines. I doubt any of these people actually exist.
This set me off wondering if this push for planted and obviously libelous stories was some new game by 'the boys'. Although why they should be interested in something as petty as saving the arses of Pakistani cricketers is quite beyond me. Perhaps some of 'the boys' believe it to be part of the 'national interest'? This led me to this story, which was printed in The Nation today as well as in the Urdu daily Express and apparently a number of other papers, although not in Dawn, the Express Tribune or The News (at least not in Karachi, I am not certain about the Islamabad or Lahore editions).
The story in The Nation printed as a box on the front page under the teasing headline "Is there an Indian connection?" claims to be from a reporter called Ashraf Javed. My sources have confirmed that the story actually arrived fully written directly from 'the boys' themselves. (So not only are some papers willing to publish planted stories verbatim, some like The Nation will also provide their own bylines for pre-written pieces.)
If there were any doubt before, we now know for sure how much credibility Express TV and Aaj TV and Express and The Nation have. But what in God's name are our psy-ops warriors up to?