US Foreign Policy towards South Asia (2011-2012): Framing of Pakistani Press

By Saleem, Noshina; Mian, Hanan Ahmad | South Asian Studies, July-December 2014 | Go to article overview

US Foreign Policy towards South Asia (2011-2012): Framing of Pakistani Press


Saleem, Noshina, Mian, Hanan Ahmad, South Asian Studies


Abstract

This study provides a detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of the coverage of Pakistani press regarding US policy towards South Asia in the context of war on terror from January 2011 to December 2012. All unsigned editorials appeared in The News and Dawn examined by applying content analysis method containing themes related to US policy towards Pakistan such as: Drone attacks and USAID to Pakistan; US policy towards Afghanistan and US policy towards India. The study maintains that both Dawn & The News were critical to US policy towards Pakistan regarding Drone Attacks but the tone of The News was intense in nature. Moreover, the Dawn supported US policy to provide USAID to Pakistan, while The News was critical to it. On US policy towards India, The News supported the US policy to maintain friendly relations with India despite of Kashmir issue. On US policy towards Afghanistan, The News framed a negative picture of US while Dawn adopted a balance stance. The pattern of coverage supports the argument that the press and foreign policy relationship is issue-specific and it also has linked with media organization's policy. This study also asserts that on foreign policy issues press framing is not necessarily influenced by country's defined foreign policy objectives.

Key Words: Drone attacks, Framing, Media, USAID to Pakistan.US policy towards South Asia, War on Terror

Introduction

The media farming of foreign policy issues always have great importance for political scientists and communication scholars because media has power to shape public opinion in the favor of or opposition to government policy line. Kellner (1995) maintains that media frame [foreign policy] issues within the context of ideology, politics and culture in such a way that cultivate representational picture in the audience mind. Galtung and Ruge (1970:260) acknowledged media as a powerful tool of "image former." The media images are based upon the frames that may be positive, neutral or negative in their tones. According to Berenger (2004), "frames make messages memorable and understandable" (cited in King & Lester, 2005:626). Neuman et al. (1992:60) labeled frames as "conceptual tools' used to convey, interpret, and evaluate information. Norris (1995) argues news frames as cognitive schemata, and journalists usually work with news frames to simplify, prioritize and structure the narrative flow of events. Therefore, media has power to shape the mind set of people and lias ability to frame the issue/event in the perspective of newspaper organization. The basic objective of this study is to investigate how US foreign policy towards Pakistan, Afghanistan and India was framed in the editorials of the leading English newspapers of Pakistan; the Dawn and The News. This study also explores how the Dawn and The News converged or diverged in their editorial framing of US policy and to what extent coverage trends reflects newspaper organization policy/ideology. Moreover, this study examines the issue-specific nature of foreign policy coverage of Pakistani press.

The period of study has significant importance with reference to US policy towards South Asian region because of the following reasons. (1) Assassination of Osama bin Laden in a US military operation on 2nd May 201 teamed out in Pakistan that created strong anti-American sentiments among the people of Pakistan who considered this military operation as a breach of their country's sovereignty. (2) US Drone attacks in northwest region of the Pakistan. (3) US pressure to launch a military operation in North Waziristan against terrorists' networks. (4) Public and political pressure on Pakistan government to stop NATO supplies through Pakistan and (5) USAID to Pakistan and its link with Pakistan's support in the war on terror. In addition, the importance of US policy towards Afghanistan lias increased after the President Barack Obama statement regarding the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014. …

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