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Monday, 29 December 2014

Shown as hellhole in US TV series, Pakistan fumes............

 WASHINGTON: Pakistan has problems with the way it has been depicted as a military-dominated, terrorist-infested hellhole in the American television drama Homeland and has reportedly conveyed its unhappiness to the show's producers.

"Maligning a country that has been a close partner and ally of the US.... is a disservice not only to the security interests of the US. but also to the people of the US.," Pakistan Embassy spokesman Nadeem Hotiana was quoted as telling the New York Post on Saturday, adding, "Homeland makes it seem that Pakistan has contempt for Americans and its values and principles. That is not true."

The Emmy Award winning drama, a weekly hour of each episode watched by nearly two million people, concluded its season finale this weekend. It centers on the adventures of an unstable but stubborn and courageous female CIA operative who goes to Islamabad as the station chief in the fourth season of the drama (the first three were set in the middle east), to hunt down terrorists.

The 13 episodes in the fourth season were loosely based on real-life incidents, including references to the US nailing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Raymond Davis shoot-out, the Camp Chapman bombing that killed several CIA operatives and other instances reflecting US-Pakistan mistrust.

The Pakistani intelligence agency ISI is shown as a devious, double-dealing entity whose fostering of terrorist groups costs American lives, including from the bombing of the US embassy in Islamabad that results in the rupturing of ties between the two countries.

But in Pakistani eyes, "repeated insinuations that an intelligence agency of Pakistan is complicit in protecting the terrorists at the expense of innocent Pakistani civilians is not only absurd, but also an insult to the ultimate sacrifices of the thousands of Pakistani security personnel in the war against terrorism."

In reality though, US officials have directly accused Pakistan of fostering terror groups, a policy that has been well-chronicled and well-established over the years, just as Pakistan's constant denial of facts has led to it being dubbed "Denialistan." In fact, hundreds of reader comments in response to reports of Pakistani protests on the serial ridiculed the country, pointing out that Osama bin Laden was found hiding there.

Even Pakistan's own liberal, progressive commentators are shaming the country's "establishment" for its un-ending spin of conspiracy theories and self-deception. Surveys and polls have also shown that contrary to Hotiani's assertion that Pakistanis embrace American values, they are virulently anti-American.

The Post said Pakistan officials in the US binge-watched the popular serial, whose impact and fall out was reported in this paper last week. They took particular objection to the portrayal of Pakistani capital as a "grimy hellhole and war zone where shootouts and bombs go off with dead bodies scattered around," maintaining that "Islamabad is a quiet, picturesque city with beautiful mountains and lush greenery." They also had problems with the accents of actors speaking Urdu.

While the series was largely shot in Cape Town, South Africa, it did show "Islamabad" with its wide boulevards and green cover. But it also based episodes on the many terrorist incidents in Islamabad, including the Marriott Hotel bombing and attacks in nearby Rawalpindi. In one episode, the CIA chief refers to Pakistan as a "shithole," and says "it is not even a country, but a fucking acronym."

There was no word from the show's producers about their reaction to the Pakistani protest. David Nevins, President of Showtime network that produced the drama, has said the series won't be set in Pakistan when it returns for season five.