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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.

 

Reader Comments:

Now you think about armed forces image without even thinking about the sacrifices nation made for yo

What you are referring to i.e.media and citizenry speaking and criticising armed forces is health as long as it is backed by facts.Armed Forces has forcibly taken resources of Pakistani nation towards themselves only 5 laks of personnels under the excuse of defending country or Kashmir.Now it is visible the hollowness of that propaganda that armed forces always did to grab the food from her nation that didn't had enough for herself.Psywarfare is rightly brought up but to those who write it is only reaction to exploitation and can stop if Govt makes big and visible changes which could to cut down salary 50% of its officer rank at least,to not give huge land squares upon retirement of officers to not appoint retired military officers(still they are 12th grader and 10th grader no matter high sounding titles they have)in civilian positions and best of all to go back to barracks.I have always heard a lot about discipline of armed forces hopefully they will not mind.But the beloved Govt of the writer would never like to make any concessions to the nation also knows damn well their respect among people so theiir loyalty from day one has to two groups one their arms suppliers where they go for training and those who are worst from Pakistan's national interest point of view get medals and certificates and upon returning are promoted an towards the armed forces.TOday Armed forces is the biggest political party in the country whose votes and support the Govt needs.Enough is enough stop intimidating the nation by pleading them about rift and the benefit to enemy.No one has benefitted enemy more than armed forces.Look at India the Generals their upon retirement are neither given any squares of land,nor any high paying status jobs.They retire and disappear in their villages.There the DG's of corporations,ambassadors the chairmans of big firms are civilians with lot of appropraite knowledge and experience.They grow because they don't have a cancer that is feeding on them.I invite you to visit www.fascistarmy.org aor www.dictatorshipwatch.com

Dr.Jawaid., United Kingdom - 12 June, 2007

Not that Rosy

Situation in India is not that rosy, the way you are talking. All major arms deal is related to scandal and top army officers pocket the money. There are thousands of scams related to procurement by defense forces. Nobody touches them, only the Defence minister gets the blame ( Even person like George Fernendez can be associated with scam. That is the ability of our armed forces. )

Nikus, Hungary - 13 June, 2007

Truth

Dear Col.Jafri,

I don't mean to interfere and perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but I feel I could easily compare what you write to the present media situation in America.

When the media begins to write, in order to push their own political agendas onto the majority of a population, it becomes a very dangerous situation - whatever the country.

The media, actually, anyone who writes for public consumption, simply must think clearly about the consequences of what they write.

I truly believe this, in the end, determines the difference between whether a country lives in freedom or repression.

Isn't it Mr. Musharraf who has made many of your freedoms possible as Col. Jafri writes?

I feel Mr. Musharraf is much maligned and his decision to stand with America against repression and brutality has cost him greatly. But, when he made his decision, he had no idea of the coming worldwide hatred for the U.S.

Now, he must walk a very fine line with the impossibility of pleasing everyone simply out of the question.

America is not a Fascist country at the moment. Neither are we a totally far left country. Nor a Conservative one.

But, our media, in their desperation to push their own agenda, forgets that their sacred duty is to inform the public - as truthfully as they can, putting emotions to one side.

Or, has the truth become unimportant?

I don't think so and either did John Keats when he wrote, 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty---that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'



Ayasha, United Kingdom - 14 June, 2007

Short-sighted media

Short-sighted journalism is desperately trying to malign Musharraf's reign as tyranny.

But the silent majority supports this government and it will be seen in the elections.

Musharraf has done more for Pakistan in less time than Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto put together.

The fickle-minded lawyers now support the corrupt opposition in desperation.

Sadat, United Arab Emirates - 15 June, 2007

Excellent article

Col. sahib,

Thanks for writing this wonderful article, it truly targets the issue.

Thanks to Paktribune for maintaining an unbias approach to the entire political situation.

In all societies there are checks and balances. Our media is without any check and balance because our whole society is without any check and balance. This is not the fault of any particular govt. rather it is the fault of the people of Pakistan. People in Pakistan follow without thinking.

People have pushed Pres. Ayub to his rise and an unfair fall. People have done the same with Bhutto.

I beg people to look at the achievements of their govt. while they are looking at govts’ shortfalls!

Dr. Masood thinks that there is total chaos and mara mari in Pakistan. Truth is that Musharraf has done far more than Bhutto or Sharif.

There is a new port, SANDAK is moving forward, Pakistan’s image has improved and many other improvements.

Above all media is free otherwise Dr. Masood might still be teaching somewhere.

How come Dr. Masood is not investigating into the scandals of Bhutto and Sharif govt. to give people a fair account?

Mr. Imran Khan finds all faults with MQM but he seems to forget his own allegations regarding PPP and the Nawaz group! How come BB and Nawaz are all clear of corruption for Imran Khan today?

Ch. Iftikhar is no saint either. Why did he take oath under PLC?

Ch. Iftikhar's rallies are supported by politically motivated lawyers and paid supporters?

Why our media is not looking into the fundings for these rallies?

How come Hamid Mir doesn’t talk about the attack on the Supreme Court by Nawaz Sharif? Why is he so bent on supporting BB and Sharif?

I think a big part of our media is playing in the hands of our enemies. I say this because any unstability in Pakistan will support our enemies.

Pakistanis should also look into the financial conditions of SOME of these talk show hosts and so called journalists. If corruption is rife in our society then the same percentage of our media is also corrupt. These folks have not landed from heaven.

I pray to Allah that Pakistan prosper and the true agenda of yellow journalism is exposed.

I am hoping that people will make the right choice when they vote this time.

****

Ms. Ayesha,

Musharraf did what any other govt or political leader would have done. From Qazi to BB all of them were going to support the USA.

Musharraf didn’t sale Pakistan to your country USA as his predecessors have done in the past.

If Musharraf was a BB or Sharif then Gawader port would still be in planning stages and JF-17 would still be a prototype.

Imran Siddiqui, Canada - 16 June, 2007

Unchecked Media

Recent episodes have shown that if media left uncheck could be detrimental to its own people!

It was amazing to see the why media induced self hypnosis, as almost like in a trans state in bring down the government without worring the consequences!

The conduct of media in relentlessly pushing its own agenda now has created an impression of self serving organization under the desguise of free press!

One should be careful in recognizing who is wearing the free press uniform!



kadar khan, Pakistan - 17 June, 2007

In response to Dr. Jawaid

I am a civilian, who has given two brothers to the defence of my motherland. These wonderful youngmen willingly laid down their lives in action during the 1965 and the 1971 Wars with India. I would gladly sacrifice more if my country's security demanded it of me. If Dr. Jawaid has the courage and patriotism (which his comments lack), let him spend a night on a post in Siachin or on the line of control. It is so easy to sit in the United States and pass judgement on the entire institution of the Armed Forces because of a few black sheep (which are found in every organization). Maybe the good Dr. Sahib would like to share with us as to what has he sacrificed for Pakistan? or has he denounced his Pakistani citizenship and is ardently singing 'the Star Spangled Banner' on every 4th of July. I implore you Dr. Sahib not to insult those that have laid down their lives for Pakistan or at least maintain your silence if nothing good can come from your side.

Dr. Tahir Saeed, Pakistan - 18 June, 2007

Salute to Soldiers of Pak Armed Forces

Its so shameful to see that the media which was nowhere and got somewhere only due to the courteous consideration of the Uniform donning Arms bearing President Gen. Musharaf and his Govt. lacks the ability to role play in a responsible manner acting in the positive interest of our homeland. Instead I find that the media on forefront is taking the opportunity in all manners to exhibit it's opportunist attitude.
The manner in which various forefront agencies of the Free Media has expressed and amplified it's hatred towards our Armed Forces is extremely deplorable.
Yes there is a limit when it comes to freedom of media and journalists. The moment journalists and media begans to side with one party or the other it disqualifies itself entirely while this has been the case with the various Pakistani Media agncies. Yes I fully agree with the harshest actions to be taken against such irresponsible individuals who label themselves as journalists and yet take the opportunity to create hate among various factions of Pakistan such as the Armed Forces and civilians. It is a shameful act and reprimand is in order.

Iqbal Zubair, United Kingdom - 19 June, 2007

RE : In response to Dr. Jawaid

Wow, am i pleased to see some pro-Army fellows trying to list down the favours our Army men do to the nation. This is so naive.

If tit-for-tat is what they are looking for i need a library full of thousands of books to list down all the sacrifices the nation has given just to make sure that our men in that khaki wardi live a luxuries life. Its interesting that the fellow above mentioned his brothers who gave their life to defend the country but being so specific means tit-for-tat. I can list down thousands of people who died down of hunger and non availability of basics. Who will count that and for what ? Its ridiculous mentioning who does what on siachen. Does the USA or UK army do different?. How that gives them the upper hand in their country, the right to topple gov's (howso incompetent and corrupt) and crush constitutions.
To you guys i can only put the BBC link :-
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6933876.stm

MB, Pakistan - 09 August, 2007

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