New Delhi: BBC News drew the ire of Twitter after its news presenter, Philippa Thomas, “shut down” US scholar Christine Fair, a guest on the show, as she was explaining the links between Pakistan and the Taliban.
“There has never been a risk-averse Pakistan, whether you’re looking at incredibly outrageous terror attacks in India or whether you are looking at the support of the Taliban in the 1990s and all that brought about. Even the fact that Pakistan harbours virtual petting zoos of terrorists in its own country with the hope they will only…,” Fair said as she was interrupted by Thomas.
Thomas then went onto tell the scholar that Pakistani diplomats would “firmly deny ” what Fair was saying. “We have given you space to put your point of view, but we are going to leave it now,” Thomas said as Fair exclaimed that she was “doing their propagandist work”.
Quite gross from @BBCNews: our "impartiality" doctrine was used to basically shut down @CChristineFair when she explained #Pakistan's jihad policy in #Afghanistan that has brought us all to this catastrophe — an issue on which there is no "balance" or "other side", factually. pic.twitter.com/FSzXKLMExN
— Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) September 4, 2021
Twitter hits back
Several prominent Twitter users hit out at the BBC for “shutting down” Christine Fair.
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington and now director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute, in a tweet wrote that the news anchor should have invited a Pakistani official later to give their view. “How is it @PhilippaBBC’s job to shut a guest down?… As a news anchor, she should know that many people have the same analysis/view as @CChristineFair whether one agrees with it or not,” his tweet read.
How is it @PhilippaBBC’s job to shut a guest down? Surely, she could have invited a Pakistani official later to give their view. As a news anchor, she should know that many people have the same analysis/view as @CChristineFair whether one agrees with it or not. https://t.co/LrZfxNGhSx
— Husain Haqqani (@husainhaqqani) September 5, 2021
Journalist Suhasini Haider said in agreement with Haqqani’s tweet: “Also it is inaccurate to say that Pakistan denies creating the Taliban. In fact, it has repeatedly said that it built up the Taliban (Mujahideen) in collaboration with the United States.”
West Asia analyst Kyle Orton also criticised BBC News over the exchange. “Quite gross from @BBCNews: our “impartiality” doctrine was used to basically shut down @CChristineFair when she explained #Pakistan’s jihad policy in #Afghanistan that has brought us all to this catastrophe — an issue on which there is no “balance” or “other side”, factually,” he said.
Journalist Barkha Dutt also tweeted Sunday saying, “You saw @CChristineFair being shut down, entirely wrongly by BBC (who appear to have never been to Quetta) on the links between Pakistan deep state and the Taliban, in a week when the ISI chief is in Kabul!”
Sitara Noor, a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies in Islamabad described Fair as “biased”. “She is so biased that she doesn’t even hide. No reasonable platform should provide space to such blatant liars,” her tweet read.
— Sitara Noor ستارہ نور (@NoorSitara) September 5, 2021
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)