Behind the presidency of Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan, there is a small group of people who tactically stage-manage his every movement, function and word in order to dramatize his performance as the so-called representative of the people. Among this “executive arm of the invisible government” is Shah Hussain Murtazawi.
Ever since becoming Ghani’s Deputy Spokesperson, Murtazawi has been the face of the inescapable media presence of Arg, the presidential palace in Kabul, and its “alternative facts.” In his deceitful and illusory efforts, Murtazawi has been irrationally trying to engineer and puff up a “demagogue” to fit the office. Coming from a reputable journalism background, the spokesman’s graphic pronouncement of President Ghani’s “rightness” has broken path with core principles of ethical journalism.
Disservice to the Public
In literary terms, the two most important characteristics of Ghani’s “rule by law” are fear and scapegoating. When criticized for his failures, his most favorite approach is to use military force against civilians and blame the troubles on the “out-groups,” supporters of Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Murtazawi has been ignoring his moral duty to the people by guarding Ghani’s reign from public scrutiny and accountability. In many instances, Murtazawi has deliberately violated the principles of journalism by supplying mythological ideas about President Ghani. It has set the deputy spokesperson onto an unethical course.
Through his untrue and dishonest manipulation of the masses’ opinion, he made President Ghani so important that he has become not just the president but someone closer to a deity. Pashtuns call him their spiritual father, “Baba.” Such blind devotion resembles deity worship.
With his immoral and corrupt conduct, Murtazawi has been misleading citizens by uninterruptedly attempting to capture their minds in the interest of Ghani’s ethnocentric and exclusivist policies.
While laws in Afghanistan do permit free competition among media and their staff members, Murtazawi’s efforts to bring manipulated information to the consciousness of the masses in order to aggrandize Ghani’s narcissistic personality and his finite abilities is nothing but the obstruction of truth.
Strikingly, President Ghani too seems to rely more and more on instruments that help to misuse the public opinion. However, his clamorous attempts to advance his ethno-nationalist cause by actually cultivating the persona that the “Transcending Pashtun Elites” want to see in their idol, has only turned many against him.
Pursuing Sectional Interest
In an era when ideas can be instantaneously transmitted to any number of people, professional journalists are required to conduct their business with sound judgment and self-discipline. Murtazawi, however, has defied all these rules hard and fast. Coming from a historically underprivileged Hazara community, he has gotten himself completely attached to the sectional interest of President Ghani, who is an ethno-nationalist Pashtun of the Ghalzai tribe.
Murtazawi’s romantic relationship with President Ghani has tacitly encouraged his connivance. Ghani has skillfully turned Murtazawi’s innocent original thoughts into a rubber stamp inked with fanatical ethnocentrism. Unfree from the whiff of bias since becoming the amplifier of Arg, he has drifted too far from sincerity and integrity. Recently, he arrogantly refused to participate in a roundtable TV discussion which also demonstrates his growing intolerance for opposing views.
In the shadow of President Ghani, Murtazawi is increasingly becoming conscious of nothing but his own existence. His exaggerated feelings of self-importance and excessively growing need for attention tempts many to look back on the good old days when his reputation as a respectable and trustworthy journalist fired up enthusiasm among young professionals.
Unfortunately, Murtazawi gives the impression that he is insensible to Ghani’s agenda which pleads for the restoration of Pashtun dominance. Judging by the situation, one can see that in partisan politics, Murtazawi’s conduct could be a perfectly legitimate form of human activity. However, his conscious and deliberate dissemination of what he knows to be lies prompts many to label him with the diabolical name “the Propagandist.”Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.