New York Times vs. Washington Post – IV.B – Pakistan – Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: Our previous article on this topic was New York Times vs. Washington Post – IV – Pakistan-Afghanistan. This article is, in a way, an extension of the previous article.

We have written four previous articles about the differences we see between the New York Times & the Washington Post. The quality of these newspapers is very good and we have a high regard for the reporters who write for these newspapers. But there is a distinct difference between how these two newspapers approach stories and the mindset of the reporters.

We summarized the differences we see in our fourth article on December 26, 2009: 

  • “The two newspapers seem to derive their own ethos & approach from the characteristics of their home city…… New York is a stunningly diverse city with a global outlook. New York is a builder of its own success.
  • In contrast, Washington DC is a very parochial city in its power base, ethnicity and outlook…. It inherits its standing from the White House and the Congress. 
  • As Helene Cooper said, New York Times reporters strive to present new & different outlooks, they disagree with each other as individuals based on their backgrounds or views. They are more likely to travel globally and bring stories that  differ from official consensus.
  • Washington Post reporters and opinionators seem to disagree, if they ever do in public, based on their party affiliations or ideology. Their sources are politicians, lobbyists and US or Foreign Government Officials.”

This above article was titled New York Times vs. Washington Post – IV – Pakistan-Afghanistan. In this article, we presented evidence from articles published in these two newspapers and wrote:

  • Consistently, it has been the New York Times that has broken new stories or presented the reality underneath the public facts.
  • Given their proximity to Governments, Embassies & lobbyists, Washington Post writers tend to reflect the positions of these sources rather than explore the reality on the ground. This is particularly true of the Post articles on Pakistan.



We were again struck by this essential difference between the New York Times and the Washington Post in their articles on Afghanistan-Pakistan this week.

The first NYT article is Afghan Deadline Is Cutting Two Ways by David E. Sanger on July 21. This is a serious article in which Mr. Sanger discusses the problems with President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan, especially his declaration to a deadline to begin drawing down troops by next summer. Mr. Sanger writes:



  • But over the past two weeks — on Capitol Hill, in Kabul and even in conversations with foreign leaders — Mr. Obama has been reminded how the goal has become what one senior American military commander called a “double-edged sword,” one that hangs over the White House as surely as it hangs over President Hamid Karzai.
  • All this has made it harder than ever for Mr. Obama to convince the Afghans and the Pakistanis that the West’s commitment is enduring.
  • Politically, the support is absolutely crumbling,” said David Gordon, a former top official on the National Intelligence Council and at the State Department who is now at the Eurasia Group. “You can’t hide that from the players in the region, and when they see it, it makes them hedge even more, preparing for the post-American era.”.


The second New York Times article is Army Chief to Serve 3 More Years in Pakistan by Salman Masood on July 22, 2010. Mr. Masood writes from Pakistan:


  • The government extended the term of Pakistan’s army chief by three years on Thursday, a move backed by the United States as it seeks to encourage Pakistan as a more reliable ally against Taliban and Qaeda militants.
  • The Americans have praised General Kayani for his army’s campaigns against the Pakistani Taliban but, behind the scenes, the Americans have been disappointed with the general’s failure to disown the Afghan Taliban, who benefit from sanctuaries in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
  • In a presentation to foreign journalists earlier this year, the general made it clear that a richer, bigger India remained Pakistan’s chief enemy and that he would not allow the effort against militants to distract Pakistan from its vigilance against India.


This week, the Washington Post published the article Afghanistan builds up strategic partnership with Pakistan by Joshua Partlow on July 22, 2010.

  • At the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul these days, a visitor is likely to be handed a booklet about the two countries by Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq titled “The Conjoined Twins.”
  • Pakistan and Afghanistan are brothers,” Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said in Kabul on Monday. “We have improved our relations considerably.”
  • It’s a paradigm shift,” Sadiq said in an interview last week. “We see a lot more confidence in each other, a lot more cooperation in very sensitive fields.”
  • We now have a better relationship with Pakistan,” a senior Afghan official said. “There is a new willingness on both sides that we should resolve the [Taliban] problem. We are both suffering from this menace.”
  • Critics of Afghan President Hamid Karzai remain skeptical, however, that Pakistan will commit to destroying elements of the Taliban network, which senior U.S. officials think is supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency to some degree.We know that Mr. Karzai is in a very dangerous game that he cannot win. It’s impossible,” said Saleh Mohammad Registani, an Afghan lawmaker. “This game is controlled by Pakistan.”
  • Everyone’s focus at the moment is to help these two countries,” NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, told reporters Saturday. “There has been nothing in the dialogue between the two countries with which we’re uncomfortable, and all of us would like to see them working more effectively together.”



We recommend reading all these three articles to see the difference between reporters who write with insight & analysis and those who write to report what their sources tell them and what their governmental sources would like to see in their newspapers. The first characterizes the New York Times and the second, unfortunately, the Washington Post.

Finally, the strategic partnership between Afghanistan & Pakistan. Wasn’t it in place before September 11, 2001? 

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