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Media and Independence

12 June, 2007

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


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It is indeed a good step and a good gesture too on the part of the government to withdraw the Pemra Amendment Ordinance which was tarnishing its highly laudable and good image of having given the press the unprecedented and unfettered freedom never seen before in the annals of the history of Pakistan. Blissfully, some of the media men are also alive to it as was seen the other day on a TV talk show their remembering the time when a simple Declaration of a daily was sanctioned by a person no less than the President of Pakistan himself. Newspapers had their daily quota of the news print that could be withheld on a small pretext. Ads by the government served as the proverbial ‘carrot and the stick’ for a paper to toe the government policies and eulogize its actions and that of its functionaries.  Then things changed. The media, particularly the electronic media, got a huge boost never seen before.  From only one government owned TV channel, a plethora of TV commercial channels mushroomed in a short span of time. Radio waves emanating from dozens of FM radio stations spanned the entire length and breadth of the strato and ionosphere of Pakistan.   

However, soon the commercial factor took over all other considerations.  Money became more important than morality and ethics.  Newspapers and the News Group sensing the opulent opportunity immediately established a hoard of their own TV commercial channels. Apart from commercial entertainment News and Views, Talks Shows, Live Discussions became equally popular. And here is where the vested interests found their opportunity of exploiting the information. Unfortunately, the most effective way of capturing the audience near them was to sensationalize the ordinary. This is what they do first on the TV and then follow it up in their newspapers.  Just to exemplify, recently a journalist made a sensational disclosure on the TV which was followed the next day by its newspaper. The garb of a fictitious ghost angel 'close' to CJ was used who confided in a venerable journalist the explanations and the clarifications of the accusations levelled against the CJ in the rebuttal affidavits. Anyone connected with the media evenly remotely knows the modus operandi of this gentleman in collecting information for his so called investigative reporting and the motives behind it? If he is so fond of unearthing the hidden why does he not disclose the contents of the many affidavits filed by various officials that are attached as annexure to the COS affidavit?  I dare him refute me if he can,  that he doesn’t do it because he knows that it will damage beyond repair the cause that he has taken up for himself to support.

A mere look at the articles and letters appearing in some of the dailies for the last many days, gives the impression as if there is NOT a single supporter of the Govt policies in the country. As if the whole nation is devoid of rational thinking, has forgotten all the good that Musharraf did for them/Pakistan and has suddenly turned critical of him. Most of the analysts who find so readily the space in the columns, distort the facts, use conjectures and are biased. They are misleading the public in general for reasons only best known to them. There seems to be a deliberate campaign to malign the Govt and distort the image of armed forces. It reflects the ill-intentions of the vested interests and a hidden agenda for the division and creating rift between the societies as a whole. Do the editors and the anchormen realize that what they are doing in their naivety is suicidal for a nation, that is; alienating the military of a country from its civil society?  Do they know that the military alone cannot defend a country without the explicit support of the civil population to it? Do they know this nefarious task of creating the chasm between the military and the civil is the most cherished goal of the enemy who employs all means of psywarfare at its disposal to achieve it?  And, I hope they do know it also that the most practical way of achieving this divide between the military and the civil is through propaganda for which the media of the target country is the most potent tool.  How happily and comfortably they must be smiling and watching it all being done for them gratis by our naïve media and media men. I hasten to say that you are not doing it on the behest of our enemy(ies).

You are doing it all just un-knowingly and unwittingly. You are behaving like a child who plays with a loaded gun innocently and gleefully completely oblivious of the impending danger.  You are doing exactly the same with your newly found independence (thanks to Musharraf) – playing dangerously with it not realizing the damage you are causing to the country.  I am not asking you to stop disseminating information to the people.  I am only asking you to please give a true, purely factual, balanced and unbiased picture of the events and the happenings and let your readers form their own opinion about the issues and the matter.

 

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