By Muqeet Tahir Malik
Media is like a myriad giant setting trends for public all while trying to cajole them for personal gains. A prominent example in this regard is the six month long sit in Islamabad led to chaos and people were compelled to rally against the government leading to instability. Along with this, a loss of Rs. 342 billion, there was a depreciation of investor confidence by 64 % according to State Bank report. Tendency on the part of some sections of media to conduct criticism of civil and military institutions in terms that are remarkably similar to criticism of the same institution, by sections of overseas media including Indian media. Thereby adversely impacting internal national cohesion and solidarity during a time when the country faces harsh internal and external threats. I will be symbolized as war monger after this analysis on a particular group campaigning for Aman ki Asha. These objectives could have been successful if there some yardsticks established for composite dialogue. Ironical to its official statement, the government of India is moving opposite to the desire of tranquillity in this fragile region. How can you campaign for peace to those who do not value other minorities’ festivals and attack them? The conclusion is that peace can only be plausible if Kashmir issue is resolved, along with the Indian infiltration in Pakistan that has induced mayhem are addressed by media from both frontiers.
The trend of sensationalism through breaking news is reprehensible. Hype is the addition of excitement given from the news like, “Suicide bomber attacks ISI office, 20 killed”, repeatedly. The core complication of media, is the media hype. Hype or sensationalism is the aggravation of news to excite people resulting in faster rating meters. As sensationalism dominates, the media can heedlessly and inherently, end up transmitting radical conspiracies and perspectives with prejudice that foster political interests leaving no or little room for objectivity. Likewise, evolving a hype around news can lead to long lasting psychological impacts, such as showing blood stained images of people or dead bodies has become an orthodox for media. September 11, attacks in the United States led to CNN showing such images, consequently according to New York Medical Research, it led to 20 % appreciation in Post-Traumatic victims. Afterwards, a proper censorship code was devised we can acquire such laws for our channels as well in order to reduce stress, panic, and apprehension.
The blood covered pictures of APS school attack were hard to see, it made children fearful to go to schools after the APS attack. Furthermore, we have to join the cables to economic instability. As soon as a news channel evolves a new hype, such as giving alerts on bomb blast or target killing – the stock market crashes. Index points earned on that day are lost in minutes as investors’ confidence is shattered. Investments are held as they are insecure about the safety of their money along with developmental projects like the Gawadar Port offshore drilling. Prominent anchors on political talk shows often end up being political stakeholders spilling beans that are not rooted facts, but rather provide insight of socio-political economic affairs, especially in foreign affairs coverage and this leads us towards disgrace. As a result, economy suffers. Media can portray Ajmal Kasab as Pakistani, but certain groups cannot blame Mullah Fazullulah as Indian agent. Why are the reports of RAW involvement in Pakistani areas not the relationship Rise in extremism in our country has a special consanguinity with the media. You must be wondering that how can media be aiding extremists but I will expound upon it. Media particularly electronic media has anchors who are not professionally educated in Islam but become anchors. As they discuss issues they often provide their views which can cause malice. One negative influence can trigger another, which can cause a chain of reaction leading to destruction of relationships in society. Extremists on the other side like TTP flare up and use the wrong pretext of Islam to cause damage. However, they themselves are wrong but our media anchors are unable to stand in contrivance to their views, hence such views are propagated. Unfortunately, illiterate people turn towards media or maulvis for knowledge.
Media lacks the compact to educate the Pakistani people and has begun a plethora of programs for various religious occasions like Ramadan, Eid ul Fitr, Shab e Barat etc. However, in case of Ramadan, transmissions are extravagant, and time consuming. Every channel has its own sehr or iftar show – making people are oblivious of essence of Islam. In earlier times, people used to get together to recite Quran or give dawas, but now everyone is dependent on television. What is more detrimental is the inclusion of religion in it. The name of religion is ruthlessly used to exploit the need of the people by painting it as greed instead. Surprisingly, every channel has its own unique Mullah and a peculiar topic every day. It can rightly be called a war in Ramadan between channels for money minting through entertainment. Most of the hosts of Ramadan programs own designer clothes merchandise and capitalize their program as an advertising platform. Since the Ramadan transmission is exhibited in an appealing and glamorous way that is to attract more viewership – models, news anchors, actors, singers all have jumped up on the hosting bandwagon. They were given branded clothes, jewellery and makeup and for the women to host a Ramadan image, a dupatta on their heads is must. Gifts amounting to thousands are granted. Accordingly, the ratings have ranked ARY group at the apex as Fahad Mustafa leading Amir Liaquat. Such, system of ranking shall be abolished as competition for religion shall always be kept aside of worldly affairs. At Eid- ul- fitr, people usually exchanged eid cards, visit each other but nowdays, television has captivated everyone. People spend three days of eid watching television, films rather than to mingle up. Moreover, money dilapidated for these festivals could be used to fill the 50 % poor-rich gap. It could be invested in development sectors like Education, Pak-China economic corridor, and other projects.
Where we have pointed out the negative facets, it’s my responsibility to highlight the positive onus of media, particularly in the greater scope in Non-Kinetic Warfare. You must have always questioned yourself, how to counter terrorism through non -violent means? The answer is simple – electronic media. Today, we as a nation are determined to fight against militancy as media has united us. Now, there is no tussle between the anchors on Operation Zarb – e- Azab. Moreover, it also brings to limelight the efforts of Pakistani soldiers and martyrs, therefore to garner support for Army. Non-kinetic warfare tactics are followed by several countries such as India. Every terrorist attack that takes place in India, Pakistan gets blamed for all the cases. Obviously, Pakistan does not bend towards the amounting pressures, but many countries like Bangladesh are submissive. Probably, this came from the basis of a Szu Tan quote “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
Lastly, we need to focus on the elucidation to this media dilemma. PEMRA and private media groups’ relationship has to be rock solid. This means that cross media ownership encouraged, diversification of media ownership, and specified censorship through mutual consent. All of the aforementioned recommendations can only be fruitful if PEMRA stops becoming a carefree giant. By this I mean that, PEMRA censorship board should constitute of media experts from both government and private sector. This will act as trust building mechanism and would be able to terminate license of those channels if conduct violated. Likewise, private media groups will have to also abide by Article 18, which guarantees the right to privacy and a fair trial. Media tries to dominate over judicial process making it a media trial such as the Ayyan Ali, President Musharaf, and Baluchistan missing persons case. It seems like a pre-trial judgment given by media though and it should not exacerbate the issue. For this a proper official media statement should be given after each hearing like ISPR.
Moreover, media should pursue single issue news, for instance; if a blast takes place, media should keep on updating the public with the whole inquiry and conclusion report. In our state, media evolves a hype for a few days and then that news is neglected; such as the PNS Mehran attack and Bhoja Airways crash. In this perspective, Western news channels are much better than us. They are still pursuing the Malaysian Aircraft A 320 crash. In this way, media can become the fourth pillar of democracy. New shared accounts should be opened up to facilitate the sending of funds from broad but under governmental oversight. In this way, the influx of money can be monitored and utilized for the betterment of country rather than propaganda campaigns. This is a fact enlisted in Media commission report too. Media personal should be trained in academies like civil services and briefed about the law of Pakistan like the Article 4,18,and 21. Under this umbrella, they must be taught to become the teachers of people in education, social awareness, but not in state affairs. Our economy on several instances had an impact on Lawyers March, however the sit in in Islamabad had suffered.
Furthermore, the solution to this lies in the reality that our media should not be allowed to telecast news abroad. Only those channels who abide by the law, and follow state’s direction shall have free to air facility. All channels being shown in Pakistan must be registered with the Pakistan electronic broadcast as excessive consumption orientation makes monitoring difficult. How can one perceive which channel is following code of conduct in such a media traffic congestion? There is a dire need of reducing the number of channels free to air in Pakistan.
In a nutshell, media is a foe outside the prescribed limits while within the jurisdiction, it can be called a friend. A panoramic epilogue view of Pakistani media reveals that its role has always remained anti-government. Hence, it can be called a foe as the economic diminution occurs such as aforementioned in the six month long sit in. The core dispute of trusteeship on both the sides media and government has to be resolved or else it would be Buckley’s hope of fruitful media.
“Media is the most powerful subsistence on Earth. It has the dynamism to turn the good to evil, and the guilty to innocent. It controls the minds, hearts, and appearances of the people.” – Malcom X
Muqeet Tahir Malik, currently pursuing a degree in cvil engineering from Military college of Engineering ,Risalpur, NUST. His passion is to write well, and groom himself as a creative person who will be an asset for his country (if he goes into civil services) or becomes a part of Pakistan’s Finest. He tweets @muqeetmalik1996.