Salman Taseer badmouths media, anchorpersons
18 November, 2008
RAWALPINDI: Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting Sherry Rehman on Monday deplored the closure of Private News Channels transmission in Karachi and its suburbs citing some problems at the source of the cable network as the main cause of its going off air.
She was speaking in Private TV’s talk show “Capital Talk”. Clips of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s conversation with Atiqa Odho were also shown by the programme host Hamid Mir wherein the governor vented his anger towards the TV channels saying the media in Pakistan has crossed all limits and become a monster.
Salmaan Taseer said the entire country had come under the clutches of the media, as “it does not let any government work smoothly.”
He went on to say that anchorpersons of these TV channels think of themselves as some godly figures. He said if they (TV anchorpersons) were in the West, they would have long been handcuffed and arrested.
He said the private TV channels disseminate disinformation. He said the anchorpersons do not take care of others’ respect and talk non-sense. They made people dance in front of the camera.
He said in Pakistan there are no Madhuri Dixits, Amitabh Bachans and Aishwarya Rais and that was the reason why these channels are popular among the people. The information minister however struck a different note saying her government did not believe in clamping sanctions on the media. She said there were some elements outside the government who off and on counselled it to bring the media under its control.
The information minister said it was the same day (November 17) last year when TV channels’ transmissions were scuttled by the then dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Sherry Rehman said that TV channels had the right to complain and the media freedom was the central point of the Pakistan People’s Party’s philosophy.
Besides Information Minister Sherry Rehman, Karachi Nazim Mustafa Kamal, columnist Irfan Siddiqui and Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Mazhar Abbas also participated in the programme.
Mazhar Abbas said besides Geo, another TV channel’s transmissions were also forcibly put off air in Lahore. He regretted that the policy of putting TV channels’ transmissions off air had become a norm. Those with power are closing them down on their personal likes and dislikes, Mazhar Abbas regretted.
He said in Karachi recently, a magazine and a newspaper were banned. The PFUJ secretary general said the media’s job is to point out problems and suggest their solution and it is doing its job responsibly.
Senior columnist Irfan Siddiqui said in Pakistan the media is powerful enough to defend itself. “Today, TV channels are blocked in Karachi but the whole country is condemning this act.” He wondered if the government was not behind this anti-media act then whether it was Baitullah Mehsud or India behind it. He demanded the hidden hand behind closing down TV channels should be exposed. Karachi Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal, talking over telephone, said the MQM opposed the closing down of the TV channels’ transmissions and took serious notice of it.