Privacy issues and the media

Published: February 1, 2012

Ayehsa Ahad Malik (center) PHOTO: INP

The role of the media regarding the matrimonial issues of politicians has received a mixed response in bureaucratic circles.

To witness such debate among bureaucrats on the role of the media, and how it covers the personal issues of politicians, is quite interesting. Some appear to discuss such rumours, including those on the secret marriages of some politicians, just to dilute the heat created by Memogate.

Some bureaucrats vehemently criticise the role of the media in bringing to light such things and say that this is done with an ulterior motive: to tarnish certain politicians who may be out of favour with a certain powerful vested interest. Those who hold such views say that the media should confine itself to reporting and commenting on national and international issues of public importance and should not bother itself about what politicians or other public figures do in private. They also say that in the past the media has chosen to leave untouched such matters, so why the interest now?

Two recent examples are cited in this regard. First is the case of Ayesha Ahad Malik who claims to be Hamza Shahbaz Sharif’s wife – but the Sharif family has accused her of making this up to taint their family’s name. The matter turned ugly after police were drawn in, because one of the parties happens to be in charge of the provincial government. Then there is the marriage of Dost Mohammad Khosa, a provincial minister, whose marriage to an actress came to light only after the media splashed the story.

The issue in general relates to that of privacy issues and whether the media has the right to report on the private lives of individuals who have a public role in society. This is an issue that is cause for much controversy and debate all over the world and even developed societies such as the United Kingdom and United States do not see this issue in a black-versus-white prism. However, what the media can do here, like elsewhere, is set up a code of conduct on this and related issues.

Anwer Sumra

Anwer Sumra

A reporter for The Express Tribune in Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Justice

    What an immature analysis without the basic knowledge of law regarding privacy. It is true that private matters should not be discusses. But examples quoted are misleading. Once a matter goes to police report or court, it becomes a part of public record and discussing Sharif’s marriage is no way a private issue as it pertains to a police case, same is with Khosa’ who is accused in a kidnapping case. Recommend

  • Bee

    Hmmm…these private issues help people to judge the credibility of the politicians.. if they r, in any way betraying someone,how on earth they would ever be faithful with the country? But media must not exaggerate or spice up these issues just to get viewership.Recommend

  • rokhanghalib

    media has no right to interfere in an individuals life. people like Maya khan should be sacked. media tries to exaggerate everything and tries to spice up things so that people will take interest and it will increase their channels popularity. media should stop doing such things and we want media to highlight real problems…Recommend

  • Parvez

    Any reporting by the media has to be responsible ( used in its fullest sense ) reporting.Recommend

  • feifan chang

    I am agree with parvez rokhanghalib …thanks for such a great post about mediaRecommend

  • Roha Malik

    I feel that such issues should be part of our news cause some way it portraits the true face of a person…. if celebrities like shohaib malik an sohail tanvir have been through all this why not our politician… just b’coz they possess power their sins shouldn’t be forgiven so easily.. so my appreciations are completely with the writer.Recommend

  • John B

    Persons in public life give up their right to privacy as most often they come to public life touting their private integrity.

    In public life, their personal life is beyond their home, as they themselves become a part of larger public society. As such media has every right to focus on their”private” life.

    Does that mean media has a right to spy on their bedroom by hidden mikes and camera. Obviously not.

    One cannot expect an expectation of privacy in market, and politicians walk in market even in their sleep. Recommend

  • Rafay Zafar

    Neither of the cases mentioned would be classified as invasion of privacy. The public has the right to this information and those who court publicity in other aspects of there life should not expect to selectively conceal certain aspects of their life from the very people whobare the target audience of their public antics. Recommend

  • Truth Exposed

    stupid post
    did anyone paid you to write this?Recommend