People deliberately keep away from debating on constitution: Kaira
14 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira on Thursday said debates about the constitution and the way it was amended and reformed over the last few years were deliberately confused to keep the public away from such debates.
He was addressing a two-day workshop titled 'Communicating the Constitution' organised by the Centre for Civic Education Pakistan (CCE-P) with support from Hanns Seidel Foundation. The minister expressed his concern about certain elements who wanted the public to remain isolated from the mainstream political process.
"What we need is to create awareness about the constitution and the rights and duties it entails for the citizens and the institutions of the state," Kaira said.
He said a state could be strong and successful only when it ensured the rights of its citizens. "You cannot run the state on the basis of religion alone, for that is the truth. But still one can disagree. This is the beauty of a democratic society," he said referring to the separation of East Pakistan.
"The current parliament decided to restore some of the democratic components of the 1973 constitution but personally, I feel we are still not very successful," he said, adding that they did whatever they could while also keeping all the allied parties on board throughout the process.
He lamented the tendency in the country to stigmatise those as traitors who talked about the provincial autonomy and rights of the provinces.
Earlier, Dr Jaffar Ahmad read his paper titled 'Communicating the Constitution' in which he identified certain trends in media, which he said needed examination. "What, it seems, we have lost sight of in the last few years, is the gradual erosion of the correlation between constitutionalism and the pursuits of media – a correlation which defined our democratic struggle in the past."
CCE-P Executive Director Zafarullah Khan made a presentation and highlighted different reportage trends on the 18th Constitutional Amendment. He made a detailed argument about how the media had belittled and overlooked some of the vital issues concerning the amendment. "After studying the filters which the media applied in reporting, we can say, it underplayed the issues and confused the context," he said.
He underlined the need for media to comprehend, contextualise and communicate the constitutional processes in a way that restores the trust of the people in those processes.
Herald Editor Badar Alam analysed the lack of constitutional frame in the media reporting and explained the reasons behind this. "Since 1947 the media space was occupied by the rightwing and people adhering to other ideologies. Both of them were reporting from their respective ideological framework since there was no constitution during that time. In 1956, we had the first constitution but that too was abrogated shortly after. In 1973 and after 1973 journalistic reporting remained stuck in the same religious and ideological framework. Since now we have a constitutional set up it is possible that now we have a constitutional framework for media reporting," Alam said.
Other speakers also shared their thoughts and made presentations on this issue and explained how the media reported them, the speakers included Shahzada Zulfiquar from Balochistan, Shamim Shahid from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Junaid Qaider from Punjab.