Monday, July 18, 2005
This is ostensibly a political blog, so those who have heard of Karl Rove and Alistair Campbell raise your hands (to your computer screens, what else?) and accept a “well done!” from me.
For those who haven’t heard of these …eh…’gentlemen’, a brief explanation is in order.
Karl Rove is GW Bush’s precious svengali, who specialises in reading the pulse of the press and the people of the United States and, by spinning factoids, lying, cheating and using each and every nasty technique he could lay his hands on, he managed not only to get GW elected to the Texan governorship but twice to the White House as well. GW affectionately calls him his ‘Turd Blossom’ after Texan wild flowers that thrive in excrement. (Currently Rove seems to be drowning in the stuff as some of his past activities seem to have finally caught up with him – namely a politically vindictive and potentially unlawful outing of a CIA operative).
And then there is the English ‘Turd Blossom’, Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s friend and recent communications director, better known as the spin doctor who created fictional ‘realities’ on WMDs and other such nonsense to justify Blair going to war in Iraq. He was forced to resign after he was suspected as having ‘outed’ the name of Dr David Kelly, a UK government biological warfare expert and former weapons inspector in Iraq, which caused Kelly to commit suicide.
Not to be out done the Government of Pakistan has its very own spin supremo, namely one Ashfaq Ahmad Gondal, who has held several posts over the years - Director General Internal Publicity, Cyber Wing Director General, Principal Information Officer of the Government of Pakistan, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister, Head of Information/Media Committee, in other words a man for all ‘Spins’.
For the record Gondal was working till the early hours of the morning to set the record ‘straight’ at the unsuccessful July 2001 Simla summit meeting between Musharraf and Vajpayee. Six months later Gondal was at hand at Katmandu to give a positive spin on Musharraf’s surprise handshake with the astonished Vajpayee. He has also been kept busy pressurizing newsmen to kill stories that the government doesn't approve of. An angry Shaheen Sehbai is on record blaming Gondal among others, for his sacking from the editorship of “The News” newspaper for publishing s story which Gondal warned him not to go ahead with.
So how does Gondal compare with the ‘Turd Blossoms’ of the West?
Yesterday, I learnt, he rang up a senior journalist who works as Pakistan editor of Auntie Beeb’s international news website and belabored him for publishing a story ‘which had crossed the line’ so to speak. After patiently hearing him out the editor, who has been busy publishing several stories relating to Pakistan – what with the Lahore connection with the London bombings, the Sindh railway disaster and renewed warfare in Wana – out of courtesy enquired which particular story had caused official misgivings. Gondal announced that it was the story about ‘the reopening of the 13 militant training camps in northern Pakistan’.
The amused editor had little trouble informing Pakistan’s foremost spin doctor that he had left editing the news magazine, in which this contentious cover story appeared, close to a year ago and was now working with the Beeb. That soon put an end to this particular official Islamabad phone call.
Though one is left wondering on how knowledgeable our blessed 'Turd Blossoms' really are? Could they perhaps simply be 'Turd Mushrooms' instead?