By Haider Rifaat
So recently I had the honor of interviewing one of Pakistan’s youngest journalists Meher Bokhari in my new web show for YouTube titled ‘The Haider Rifaat Show’ which covers politics, social issues and entertainment. Bokhari is best known for anchoring the famous talk show ‘NewsEye’ which airs on DAWN News from Monday to Thursday. The interview was regarding different issues ranging from Pakistan’s politics to the recent Kashmir mayhem.
Q1) Haider Rifaat: Prior to joining the field of Journalism, which institution were you affiliated with; and how has your experience been different?
Meher Bokhari: “I started my working career in journalism itself. I did a double major in mathematics and business. When I moved back to Pakistan, I started with Samaa TV and it has been Journalism all the way.”
Q2) : As a journalist, what is your take on the recent Kashmir mayhem in view of Burhan Wani’s killing?
Meher Bokhari: “Unfortunately, we have put Kashmir on the back burner for the longest of time. Everything has been about the political rhetoric. We haven’t been leading from the front, we haven’t been engaging the world as aggressively as we should. We are not the member of the United Nations Human Rights committee and we don’t have a foreign minister which is a huge problem for Pakistan. But then again, there can be enough lobbying done to make sure a meeting is convened and the issue is picked up. The cabinet meeting was called by PM Nawaz but Kashmir was not a part of the agenda.”
Q3) Do you think Pakistan’s media strays away from journalistic ethics while conducting a balanced interview?
Meher Bokhari: “We achieved media freedom at a very high price and a lot of sacrifices had to be made. A lot of media practitioners were very possessive of this freedom and they did not want anyone else dictating or setting out any rules or guidelines at all. If you remember a few years ago, the Punjab assembly also came out with a resolution regarding this matter and there was a talk for parliamentary oversight. In consequence, it was aggressively resisted by the media. But we do need a set of guidelines and ethics for sure.”
Q4) Any comments you would like to give on the recent Punjab abduction cases?
Meher Bokhari: “You know, it is funny because we did a news segment on this particular issue a few days ago. The statistics and data we have received is in complete contrast to what the authorities are saying right now. The DPO Lahore gave different numbers and so did the investigator I interviewed the other day. So, there is a lot of confusion regarding the statistics and the authorities have not come clean as yet.”
Q5) According to you, what are some flaws that you’ve seen in the current political system of Pakistan?
Meher Bokhari: “As voters, and as Pakistanis, we forget that democracy is accountability, it is being answerable to the people. When parties are voted in, they assume they have immunity and a four-year cover. Another big flaw is the system itself where individuals seem bigger than institutions. Clearly, the institutions have not been strengthened in Pakistan.”
Watch full interview: