Maria Zulfiqar Khan: Investigative journalist or media bully?

By Farwa Zahra:

Pakistani news media never fails to remind us of the fact that it operates under no formal code of ethics. Whilst the reporters take up the role of undercover agents, once every few months we see moral policing by TV show hosts like Maya Khan and more recently Maria Zulfiqar Khan. One of the latest episodes of Maria’s show “Baat Say Baat”, featuring her raid on a Chinese-run massage centre, only left me disgusted that journalism has stooped so low. The show violated media ethics on various fronts.
The host revealed identities of both she thought were innocent or involved. The name of a 14-year old girl working at the center was mentioned quite a few times before the editors of the programme decided to censor it… as if it mattered anymore. The camera kept hovering around the staff members accused of being prostitutes and whose faces were visible in various scenes of the report. When the drug inspector left the scene (which could be for any reason), the host not only revealed his full name but also came to a sweeping conclusion that he was there not as an investigator but as a client. As if this was not enough, the show went on to reveal house number and ownership details of the place rented for the centre.

The host further went to the house of the 14-year old from where she called her father asking why he sent her for dhanda, leaving no benefit of doubt that he could have actually sent her for massage services as the guy claimed. She continued to harass whoever she thought was an accomplice by shouting, accusing, threatening and using indecent language showing no control over her emotions and hence demonstrating a lack of objective reporting.

Maria Zulfiqar Khan’s desperation to increase her show’s rating only turned out to expose her lack of journalistic integrity representing an example of media bullying. But if the host is hell-bent on continuing her “investigative” journalism, here’s a suggestion: Dear Maria, stop moral policing. We have Maya Khan already. But if you have to run your self-righteous ghairat brigade, why don’t you raid on Red Light area next time? At least it would come with fewer assumptions and some proofs.

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