US liberates policy on news dissemination

DUBAI — The US is now adopting the policy of an ‘upfront’ approach to dissemination of information instead of the previous practice of not talking about subjects that the country did not want to discuss.

By M. A. Qudoos

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Published: Sat 3 Jun 2006, 1:06 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:20 PM

This was stated by Captain Frank Pascual, director of the media engagement team of the US Central Command, based at the Dubai Media City, while speaking on ‘Bridging the Gap’ at a meeting of the Pakistan Business Council on Tuesday.

“We have realised that we cannot run from bad news. We have to be upfront. We have to talk about incidents and events even if they are not in our favour. If we do not do that, we encourage the spread of incorrect information,” Pascual said.

As an example of changing US attitude, he cited the US military's explanation of this week's incident in Kabul. “We have learned. We have achievements to our credit and we have made mistakes as well.”

Pascual said that Dubai was selected to be the venue of his office because the city is the hub of media. “This is where the media is. There has been a tremendous increase, to the present 1,500, in the number of media in Dubai since the war in Iraq. Dubai is also a great place for cultural exchange,” he said.

“We are more than US military and coalition forces spokesmen. We are building a relationship. We want to open communication with the Middle East. Our job is also to bridge the gap between cultures. We want to make an impact, we are committed to continuity” Pascual said, adding that since his posting here, he was able to see the world from the eyes of the people in this region.

Pascual agreed that there were impediments and misunderstanding. “Americans are not familiar with the Middle East. They see the region through the Palestine issue and through the cameras of the media,” he said.

“We are very disappointed by the response of our nation to the DP World case and the things that were said publicly in this regard,” he said.

Pascual said that the US considers Pakistan as a valuable ally and a great friend. “Pakistan has detained or eliminated more Al Qaeda members than any other country, even the US. Pakistan has made valuable contribution to the war on terror. President Bush as deep appreciation for Pakistan,” he said.

He said that Pakistan and US personnel worked side by side during the Pakistan earthquake operations. “The differences had boiled down because both were working for one goal of rescue and relief. The need for rapid response was the challenge.”

Pascual said that a small group of people had damaged the reputation of the military at the Abu Gharaib prison in Iraq. He said that the US was ‘looking to get away’ from the Guantanamo Bay.

Pascual's speech was followed by an active Q&A session, including questions on difficulties faced by Pakistanis at US immigration and on the US intervention in other countries. Present with him was Captain Eric E. Clark, media officer and spokesman.

Tanvir ul Islam Khawaja, President of the Pakistan Business Council, while introducing the speaker said: “The Council organises different kinds of programmes of interest to members, including programmes to keep them posted on the developments in the region. Today's meeting is part of this series.”

In his closing remarks, Khawaja stressed that civilian nuclear technology should also be made available to Pakistan.

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