A Comparative Analysis of the Portrayal of General Musharraf’s Regime in UK (The Guardian; The Times) and Pakistani (The Dawn; The Nation) Left-wing and Right-wing Broadsheets
: The Hegemonic Phases of a Dictator and Convergence of the International Press/Political Ideologies

  • Sadaf Shabbir

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research explores how left-wing and right-wing broadsheet newspapers in the UK and Pakistan portrayed Pervez Musharraf’s rule in Pakistan, from the military coup in 1999 which brought him to power through to his departure from office, in 2008. Although previous academic research has analysed Musharraf’s regime, it has focused on specific aspects such as Pervez Musharraf before and after 9/11 (Basu 2003), political stability and development in Pakistan during Musharraf’s regime (Talbot 2002), the issue of ‘Enlightened Moderation (Murnock 2006) and the state of emergency (Shoeb 2008). Scholars have also focused on Musharraf’s regime and terrorism (Fayyaz 2010), controlled democracy and political opposition in Pakistan (Ahmed and Afridi 2014; Banerjee and Commuri 2014), the provincial administrative crisis in Sindh (Jatoi et al. 2015) and the Lawyers’ Movement (Bajwa 2016). In addition, previous work has focused on economics versus politics during the Musharraf era (Mamoon 2017) and Pak-India relations (Ahmed 2017), along with Musharraf and the issue of Kashmir (Mumtaz 2019; Mustafa et al. 2020), and finally the civilianisation of military rule during the Musharraf Era (Alam et al. 2020). No work has yet examined and compared domestic/international newspaper representations, doing so longitudinally across Musharraf’s entire regime, as in this thesis. The first stage of this research was to review Pakistan’s post-independent political history and governance issues in Pakistan’s conservative society, observing how Musharraf’s reformist domestic policy affected Pakistan’s political system and clashed with key legal and media players. The second stage of this research involved the creation of a chronology of events that were potentially relevant to General Pervez Musharraf’s (inter)national news coverage. On the basis of data available from the UK and Pakistan’s newspapers, and identifiable transformations in Musharraf’s hegemonic position, my data was divided into three phases: First Phase – The Struggle for Post-Coup Hegemony: Musharraf’s Transition from Reluctant Dictator to Strongman Leader (October 1999-July 2001);Second Phase – The struggle for Order in Transnational Hegemony: Musharraf’s Journey from ‘the Friend of the West’ to ‘Reformer’ (September 2001- January 2004);Third Phase – The Struggle for Power Against a Counter–Hegemony: Musharraf’s Resignation and Fall (February 2004-November 2008).Throughout, Musharraf’s regime was analysed by adopting framing (Entman,1985, 1993, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010) as a theoretical framework through comparative discourse analysis (van Dijk 1988a, 1988b, 1991, 2001). I focused on the UK and Pakistan’s left-wing and right-wing newspapers, enabling the thesis to explore transnational hegemony (Gramsci, 1971, pp. 58-59). A total number of 4141 news items – including articles, opinion columns, editorials and news reports – were analysed during this research. The total number of relevant news items carried by each newspaper were: The Guardian – 607, The Times – 253, The Dawn – 1466, and The Nation – 1815.A key finding, perhaps surprisingly, was that UK and Pakistani left-wing and right-wing broadsheet newspapers portrayed Musharraf’s hegemonic struggle via very similar frames, indicating a convergence in international press coverage, plus a representational convergence between political ideologies. The thesis further analyses how General Musharraf’s military dictatorship was (inter)nationally mediated through his framing as a populist leader. Here, three different threads of populism were identified across the longitudinal newspaper coverage of his regime (Phillips,1998, pp. 846-867): the modernising liberal authoritarian populist, corrupted authoritarian populist, and unpopular/fraudulent populist.
Date of Award16 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMatt Hills (Main Supervisor) & Catherine Johnson (Co-Supervisor)

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