Iqbal Athas: A Professional Journalist?

An alleged assault by armed men has brought the so called "Defence Analyst", Iqbal Athas to the limelight of Sri Lankan news. Athas claimed that armed men, who were from the armed forces, broke into his home and terrorised his family. What proof does Athas have that those men were from the forces?

Athas claimed that their physique and masculine arm structure resembled that of Sri Lankan soldiers. How can one distinguish a soldier's physique from that of another man? Couldn't those men have been personnel henchmen of the underworld, which Mr. Athas has so many connections to? Or is it not possible that it was the angry public, who were disgusted by his vulgar journalism? Athas also claimed that the Browning weapons that the men carried were standard issue for the Sri Lankan Air Force. Let me remind Mr. Athas that during the last regime thousands of military weapons were issued to politicians for their protection and other personal use.

According to Mr. Athas, his life was saved by his young daughter's screams, why would five armed men be scared of the neighbours if their intent was to kill Athas? Wouldn't the so called "break and entry" and the assault of the servant outside the residence have caused more noise, thus alarming the neighbours. It would have also been easier to have killed him during his travel to and from work, on the street, like a dog. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that no unbiased, professional journalist would have accused an individual or an organisation without proper evidence and base.

During the past regime Mr. Athas remained silent throughout. He did slander nor try to bring scandals (military or any other) into the light. Where were his great journalistic principles then? It is a well hidden fact that Mr. Athas was bought by then U.N.P. government. The then Defence Minister (U.N.P.) supplied Athas with land (in Pallewala, Minuwangoda) for his favourable articles and a generally pro-military attitude. I would like to take this opportunity to remind Mr. Athas that his articles are detrimental to national interests.

For an example, one of his recent articles contained specific specifications (frequencies, etc) of the newly acquired fire finding equipment. For what godly reason would the general public (whom Athas claims he works for) need specific information such as that? Those who require that information could build jamming equipment and possibly track the fire finders itself. Is Mr. Athas intentionally publishing this information for the benefit of those who wish to separate from our nation?

Freedom of speech is one of humanities most treasured possessions and a very powerful weapon. Yet, one must not condemn and demoralise those who provide us the opportunity to express our freewill. Our sovereignty has been protected by the sacrifices of many thousands of servicemen, despite that Mr. Athas weekly attacks our forces through his column, while providing possible vital information to the militants who wish to destroy our democracy.

The above article was sent by a reader.

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