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Framing a Friendly Dictator: U.S. Newsmagazine Coverage of Pakistani President Musharraf After 9/11
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing a Friendly Dictator: U.S. Newsmagazine Coverage of Pakistani President Musharraf After 9/11 16 emphasized were Musharraf’s decisions that were primarily important to his own country, such as his “anticorruption drive,” “jailing of politicians for abuse of democracy” (Time, Oct. 22, The World’s Toughest Job), “free press,” and “great degree of government transparency” (Newsweek, Jan. 28, Pakistan’s Striving Son). When interpreting the negative aspects of Musharraf’s rule in the period before he became an American ally, the U.S. newsmagazines framed the Pakistani leader as weak, even “the world’s weakest dictator,” who was, until recently, unable to oppose the threat of “Islamic radicalism” (“when Musharraf tried to overturn Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws, often used by Muslim fundamentalists to silence liberals, he had to back down,” Newsweek, Jan. 28, Pakistan’s Striving Son; “he repeatedly looked weak when he ran up against them [religious extremists],” “he kept silent when mullahs in the Northwest Frontier instructed men to forcibly marry – code for rape – women working for aid agencies,” Time, Oct. 22, The World’s Toughest Job). Similarly, Musharraf’s first months in power after the coup in 1999 were labeled as “contradictory,” mostly without any further explanation. In the observed period of time, Musharraf called the fight for Kashmir between India and Pakistan a “freedom fight.” This statement, which contradicts peace efforts between the two countries, was either omitted from reports or framed as necessary to “placate the fundamentalists at home” (Newsweek, Oct.15, Picking One’s Friends). Musharraf’s statement that Pakistan is the “fortress of Islam,” which could be labeled as radical, was also justified as yielding to “Islamic fundamentalists.” In terms of exemplars, Musharraf was sporadically compared to former Egyptian president and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Anwar Sadat, who was murdered in 1981 by

Authors: Obad, Orlanda.
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Framing a Friendly Dictator: U.S. Newsmagazine Coverage of Pakistani
President Musharraf After 9/11
16
emphasized were Musharraf’s decisions that were primarily important to his own
country, such as his “anticorruption drive,” “jailing of politicians for abuse of
democracy” (Time, Oct. 22, The World’s Toughest Job), “free press,” and “great degree
of government transparency” (Newsweek, Jan. 28, Pakistan’s Striving Son).
When interpreting the negative aspects of Musharraf’s rule in the period before he
became an American ally, the U.S. newsmagazines framed the Pakistani leader as weak,
even “the world’s weakest dictator,” who was, until recently, unable to oppose the threat
of “Islamic radicalism” (“when Musharraf tried to overturn Pakistan’s draconian
blasphemy laws, often used by Muslim fundamentalists to silence liberals, he had to back
down,” Newsweek, Jan. 28, Pakistan’s Striving Son; “he repeatedly looked weak when he
ran up against them [religious extremists],” “he kept silent when mullahs in the
Northwest Frontier instructed men to forcibly marry – code for rape – women working
for aid agencies,” Time, Oct. 22, The World’s Toughest Job). Similarly, Musharraf’s first
months in power after the coup in 1999 were labeled as “contradictory,” mostly without
any further explanation.
In the observed period of time, Musharraf called the fight for Kashmir between
India and Pakistan a “freedom fight.” This statement, which contradicts peace efforts
between the two countries, was either omitted from reports or framed as necessary to
“placate the fundamentalists at home” (Newsweek, Oct.15, Picking One’s Friends).
Musharraf’s statement that Pakistan is the “fortress of Islam,” which could be labeled as
radical, was also justified as yielding to “Islamic fundamentalists.”
In terms of exemplars, Musharraf was sporadically compared to former Egyptian
president and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Anwar Sadat, who was murdered in 1981 by


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