Everyone has a personal favourite.
In your Blogger's case, when it comes to TV journalists, it has always been that spry and often steely-gazed Canadian on BBC World - Lyse Doucet.
Doucet has toughed it out in several action-packed postings, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel and more recently Iraq. At times when bullets were flying and bombs were exploding she always appeared completely calm and reported the facts to us in a clear no-nonsense fashion. In all the years of watching her on TV your Blogger has never seen her display even a trace of bias.
As Pakistan awaits the arrival of Benazir Bhutto and two Supreme Court judgements, Doucet had this to say in today’s Toronto Star:
PAKISTAN EDGES TOWARD DEMOCRACY
Oct 16, 2007, Lyse Doucet
KARACHI - "What's your definition of democracy?" A Pakistani journalist thrust his microphone through a noisy scrum of hacks besieging the information minister outside Parliament, minutes after General Pervez Musharraf was declared the winner in presidential elections in the national and state assemblies.
The minister, Ali Durrani, launched into an elegant treatise on the vote of the majority and the will of the people.
"Does it include the manipulation of democracy?" the journalist demanded again.
Such is the mood in Pakistan today as it struggles to move from military rule to a credible legitimate democracy. The press, with an explosion of local television channels, is vibrant and critical notwithstanding telephone calls that still come from the government's military and civilian offices.
Human rights activists continue to display the bravery and commitment they have deployed for decades on the streets – from the repressive military rule of General Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s to Musharraf's "enlightened moderation" that began with his widely welcomed military coup in 1999 to his controversial attempt to hold onto power.
And lawyers, recently emboldened by a more robust Supreme Court, have spearheaded legal and political battles to declare loudly and clearly a man in uniform cannot run for office.
Against all these remarkable strengths of civil society is the juggernaut of Musharraf's machine. "The electorate has spoken," emphasized the finely suited Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, "and that's democracy."
But will the general really keep his promise this time to remove his military uniform? "Absolutely," declared Aziz, his right-hand man.
Never mind that Musharraf got his mandate from assemblies packed with his supporters, whose terms are about to end. Never mind that the Supreme Court still has to rule on petitions challenging the general's decision to stand while still Army Chief. His supporters are blazing ahead with preparations for his next term in office.
Lawyers, who galvanized protests for months, could only take their campaign so far. They whipped up opposition to the president after he blundered in trying to dismiss the chief justice earlier this year. But a divided opposition proved unable to capitalize on this ferment in the streets.
The main opposition party, the Pakistan People's Party, has been focusing its energies on a deal to get all corruption charges dropped against their exiled former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and many others. Aziz called it an understanding to put aside the politics of victimization to make way for "national reconciliation."
Most of the country's commentators call it a cynical and sordid deal to allow Bhutto to come home to ease the political heat on Musharraf. It could still be overturned by the Supreme Court.
So for the next week or so, Pakistan is a country in waiting.
Waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the deal between Bhutto and the general, and on the legality of the presidential election. Waiting for Bhutto to fly home on the morning of Oct. 18, even though Musharraf is now asking her to delay her return. She wants to fight in elections set for January, which she hopes will pave the way for her to become prime minister — if the general helps overturn a constitutional bar on more than two terms.
Backed by quiet support from Washington and London, Bhutto helps bolster Musharraf and sidelines the other ex-prime minister in exile, Nawaz Sharif, who recently tried to come home and was turned back.
Bhutto, whose previous terms in office are tainted by the corruption charges, admits she won't get the huge crowds, the millions who turned out to greet her when she ended her first exile in 1986. A general's fate also played into her hands then when a still mysterious plane crash killed the president, General Zia ul- Haq, and ended nearly a decade of martial law.
At a press conference after her resounding election victory in 1988, she was besieged by questions about how she would deal with a military that has always distrusted her and her Pakistan People's Party. When she confirmed she would meet the generals, I asked her then who had requested the meeting, "You or the generals?" In other words, who is really in charge?
Nearly 20 years later that is still the answer to the definition of democracy in Pakistan. Bhutto didn't answer my question then. She may not want to answer it now.
No one that I have met (and I've come across a fair few people in the past couple of weeks) expects the Supreme Court to spring a surprise on the legality of Musharraf's so-called 'election'. The full judgement, once it comes out, will make for an interesting read (as we will then be informed about the legal justifications for the court's decision).
As far as the National Reconciliation Ordinance is concerned the Attorney General has himself informed the press that he found it near impossible to defend this new piece of law in the courtroom.