Pakistan’s ticking media bomb

Published: October 2, 2010
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The media has become a negative agenda driven business that jumps from one breaking story to another

It is rather disturbing to see television show anchors pretending to be political analysts. Their so-called analysis is usually hype-creating propaganda. Somehow, they have developed the notion that they are superior to politicians and their naive, idealistic ideas are the solution to Pakistan’s problems.

They demean politicians to the extent that self-respecting political leaders have stopped appearing on guest panels. This in turn leads to the anchor of one television channel appearing as analysts on another channel as guests. Without any political background or knowledge, they go on harping about the future of Pakistan, not realising the consequences of their nonsensical rhetoric. Instead of working hard and creating investigative reports on the issues concerning Pakistan, our media has found easy alternatives for grabbing attention – the red bar suggesting Pakistan may collapse any second.

Pakistan’s media is not an example of freedom of speech. It represents the media’s negative, extremely biased agenda only. Those who speak of Pakistan’s ability to develop are no longer invited to speak. Those who suggest that the government is going to fall apart and cause sensation are welcomed.

I pity the ‘senior’ analysts who suggest implementing the ‘Bangladesh model’ in Pakistan. The proposed model involves the army and courts replacing the existing government with technocrats. What they need to know is that the Bangladesh model failed in Bangladesh – wonder who coined this term in the first place. In 2007, the Bangladesh army removed the corrupt government and set up a caretaker government under a former World Bank economist in the hope that election reforms would take place and corruption would be uprooted from the system.

In 2010, nothing has changed. Bangladesh still has the same politicians, corruption and economy. Does Pakistan have a few years to spare for this experiment too?

During the recent floods, the so-called reporters for our news channels would find a random spot and start broadcasting the government’s inability to reach the victims. How hard is it to understand the extent of the natural disaster that hit the country?

The government was desperately seeking funds from the people to deliver to the flood victims when the media started generating hype about corruption. Such exclusive news reports lowered the people’s confidence in the government relief efforts and significantly hampered the fund raising process.

To add to this, a very senior anchor reported from a relief camp that a volunteer doctor belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party was working at a religious party’s camp. He concluded that it could be a bigger conspiracy. You have to be a very bold, shameless cynic to give such statements.

Those who discuss politics and those who vote are different. As ironic as it is, the continuous political dump on television, newspapers and blogs is watched and read by people who are too lazy and indifferent towards the election process. Those who actually cast votes do not have a political voice. They are not a part of the elitist discussions we have every day. We can talk about removing this government and replacing it with a fusion of the courts and the army all we want. When that ugly mixture dissolves, the same corrupt politicians will return with flying colors.

If the present structure falls apart, Pakistan may never recover. Pakistani media needs to put a stop to the breaking-news culture. Every minute statement, thought or event makes it to the red strip on all news channels. What’s worse is that it repeats for hours in two different languages.

The newly founded freedom of speech and expression through media is often seen as a blessing. It certainly is, but the amateur level of journalism is increasingly turning our irresponsible media into a ticking bomb. We have let loose an untamed animal that must be leashed as soon as possible.

samir.butt

Samir Butt

A former Youth Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Fulbright undergraduate scholar, freelance writer, public speaking trainer, IT consultant and marketing professional. He blogs at samiranwar.net.

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