Dr. Altaf Ullah Khan

Chairman of Journalism department at the University of Peshawar, Khan is global adjunct faculty at the center for International Studies at Ohio University. He completed his doctorate in communication and media sciences from Germany. He lives in Peshawar with his wife and three sons.

TV rhetoric: Shut up and say something

“Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.” These words by George Bernard Shaw seem familiar. Aren’t we living in a society where every word we read has a background? The audacity of expression has been long lost and we have also lost the courage to read what we wish – to read what is not considered “essential reading,” to read something that is not a must for floating in the sea of absurdity around us. Do we need to change this? Yes, we do. Spectators of our own history Our ...

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Corporate greed, sensationalism and an irresponsible media

“Exaggeration is truth that has lost its temper.” Khalil Gibran. We live in a world of exaggeration. A world blinded by megalomania. We are getting blinder every passing day. We are a case of collective schizophrenia. It is one of the most dangerous ailments of all, but are we the only ones that are blind. We are surely the damned ones. A sensationalist press, not an adversarial one Whenever something goes wrong in the world, we become the scapegoats. The international media paints Pakistanis as a people devoid of moral standards. The Pakistani media borrows this portrayal to strengthen the bias, giving ...

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Empathising with our own: Journalism for the voiceless

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future. Utopia today, flesh and blood tomorrow.” Victor Hugo The definition of “future” in our land has always been enormous. Enormous in the sense of doing something big. Creating a future for a nation. A nation very abstractly defined. We have always remained a people who think big. Thinking big is good, but only if it serves higher interests and also remains beneficial to larger sections of humanity. Here, thinking big never had this aim. This is the top-to-bottom, vertical thinking process that we persistently follow. We have always wanted to build ...

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Let humanity out of it’s cage

“Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor – all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked – who is good? Not that men are ignorant – what is truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men.” W.E.B.Du Bois, Souls of the Black Folk The idea of ‘know thyself’ as the highest good offered by Socrates and immortalized by its inscription at the Delphic oracle has always been an easier said than done axiom of human existence. How do we know ourselves? How do we know others? ...

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The media in our backyard

It was that simple. Chou En-lai knew that he was addressing lonely men, men whose mentalities had been branded with a sense of being outcasts. It cost him nothing to make such a gesture, to speak words of compassion. He offered no programs of industrialization, no long term loans, no mutual defense pacts. To the nations smarting under a sense of inferiority, he tried to cement ties of kinship. Richard Wright, The Color Curtain. These are the words of compassion we direly need from all quarters. The have-nots of this country have become a city within a city, the city ...

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Media bias: Upon land almost dry

“Nothing can describe the confusion of thought which I felt when I sunk in water; for tho’ I swam very well, yet I could not deliver my self from waves so as to draw breath, till that wave having driven me, or rather carried me a vast way on towards the shore, and having spent itself, went back, and left me upon land almost dry, but half-dead with the water I took in.” Daniel Defoe in Robinson Crusoe defines a very pertinent human condition. A condition we can sympathize with, but can not fathom. We need not fathom it. Our ...

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August 29, 2010

How does it feel to be the problem?

“They say I know an excellent colored man in my town or I fought at Mechanicsville or, do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, “how does it feel to be a problem?” I answer seldom a word.” W.E.B. DuBios’ words about African Americans could easily be used for Pashtuns in Pakistan. I was born and brought up listening to the question by our countrymen. The word problem is easily interchangeable with Pashtun. “How is life in Peshawar? They say it ...

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