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Thursday
May122011

The Pakistani Military's ‘Cronkite Moment?’

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images(ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan) -- The raid by American Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, has left an increasing number of Pakistanis angry with the country’s leadership. Now, one of the nation’s top broadcasters – a typically pro-military primetime news anchor – has denounced the army and declared his country the epicenter of terrorism.

Television news anchors in Pakistan are regarded as “secular mullahs,” as the UK’s Guardian put it, preachers who dominate primetime in a country where there are almost no options for entertainment. Though nearly all of them are on a similar political page – whether for ideological reasons or because they are pressured – few broadcasters have been as pro-military as Kamran Khan, who hosts a self-titled show on the country’s most popular channel. But Khan, a dependably pro-army broadcaster, decided recently that enough is simply enough.

“It’s important for this nation not to buy into the conspiracy theories about Americans, Israelis, and Indians,” Khan said. “The nation should know that 3,900 Pakistanis have been killed in 225 suicide attacks -- which have spared neither mosques nor schools -- and not a single suicide bomber was Indian, nor American, nor even Israeli. All of them were Pakistanis, and Muslims.

“We need to accept the bitter pill: in almost all the terrorist attacks across the world, either Pakistanis have been used or the planning was done on Pakistani soil. Pakistan is seen as a heaven for militants… If the world perceives our dear country as the largest sanctuary of terrorists, their reasons are solid... If we want to save our dear country, if we want to raise it even to the standard of Bangladesh -- never mind India -- and if you want to develop it like the Islamic countries of southeast Asia, all of this must change... It’s now or never.”

Khan has since backtracked a bit, but his diatribe is making the rounds on social websites like YouTube and Twitter. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the clip may be the Pakistani military’s “Walter Cronkite moment,” akin to when the United States’ most popular television anchor declared in 1968 that Vietnam was unwinnable -- after which Lyndon Johnson said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio