Pakistan’s media wars – my article for Himal Southasian

Himal-Growing media, shrinking spaces?Himal Southasian, a publication I’m proud to have been associated with since its inception in 1996, has a new issue on the media. My piece Pakistan’s media wars (below) and Mass media and the Modi ‘wave’ by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta are web exclusives. Two additional points to my article:  1. Corporate media owners in Pakistan have always been part of reactionary and anti-democratic forces in general. Their disputes with censoring governments have almost always had commercial motivations. 2. Journalists have played a positive role whenever they remained united in their professionalism. They compromise this unity when they allow journalistic standards to slip and try to become power brokers themselves.

By Beena Sarwar

4 July 2014

What is the political fallout of the battle between a media behemoth and Pakistan’s largest security agency?
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Peace hankies + trade + business = reduce hostilities

Happy Home School students display their Aman ki Asha 'peace hankies'. Photo: Naqeebur Rehman

Another Aman ki Asha event in the offing -‘Partners in peace and progress‘, the trade and investment meeting between top Indian and Pakistani business executives, taking place in Delhi May 18-19, 2010. This is the latest in the chain of events since the initiative was launched on Jan 1, 2010, by two media giants of Pakistan and India. Since then, there have been several events in both countries – literary festivals, music concerts, mushaira, editors and anchors’ meeting, a seminar on strategic issues, the ongoing peace hankies campaign, and now this major economic conference. The coverage of these events in the media, especially the sponsoring media groups Jang, News, Times of India and Geo TV, has created a buzz around peace. Crucially, it has helped to create ‘an enabling environment’, as Geo TV President Imran Aslam terms it, that may well have contributed to the thaw in India Pakistan relations. (For more peace hankies photos see my Flickr site). For those cynics and the critics – yes we all know peace is not going to happen overnight, but when the critical mass of people is clearly for it, it might not be so far away as it once had seemed.

Media scandalising… Meera; Jack Lew’s briefing on Pakistan

Filmstar Meera - blitzed by hypocritical, misogynistic journalists (courtesy Open magazine)

Filmstar Meera - blitzed by hypocritical, misogynistic journalists (photo courtesy Open magazine)

Many journalists in Pakistan appear to have forgotten their responsibility to fairness and ethics. In one ongoing drama, they are going overboard about the ‘scandal’ of film actress Meera’s ‘marriage’, with anchor persons relishing her lack of sophistication and Geo going as far as to broadcast her interview AFTER she’s asked for the camera to be turned off. She may be lying but should anchors sneer? And should producers allow the camera to continue rolling after the subject has asked it to be turned off? But then, she’s a woman, she’s a film actress, she’s considered fair game… Is that fair? Here’s a sound antidote to all the drivel about Meera – A Girl Called Meera by Faiza S. Khan.

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