Hina Rabbani Khar on Al Jazeera and the battle of media ethics

Published: December 22, 2015

It would be a rather unfair statement if I assumed that virtually all Pakistani politicians lack the charisma to wholeheartedly defend their nation but without question, Hina Rabbani Khar’s recent interview in Aljazeera’sHead to Head’ with Mehdi Hasan was one such exception. The former foreign minister of Pakistan, Khar, passionately defended Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP) and Asif Ali Zardari’s controversial regime that recently took the social media by storm.

Hasan, the host of ‘Head to Head’ posed some controversial yet intriguing questions at Khar, however, in the end, it all boiled down to a good, hot-headed debate. The former foreign minister of Pakistan managed to keep her cool and unreservedly defended Pakistan. But I strongly believe that somewhere in between the lines, the western media strays away from ethics and morals of conducting a balanced interview. I, for one feel that sometimes (or always) derogatory questions are intentionally thrown at guests to insult and demean them.

And why is that all Pakistanis are subject to such filth?

Yes, our media is not the best in the business, and corruption and nepotism have whitewashed the core essence of professionalism. Pakistan’s media is certainly not a paradigm of perfection and that is a fact to consider here, however, such a practice is seldom expected from the western media. Throughout Hina Rabbani Khar’s controversial interview, I perceived sarcasm and rage galloping as Hasan went head-to-head with her.

For me, there are two kinds of journalists; the ones who ask direct questions and keep their mouths shut and the others who have no defined red lines and often forget that it is not they who are being interviewed. Additionally, the western media has played a pivotal role in denigrating not just Pakistanis but anyone who refuses to consider their line of action.

There are some basic rules of conducting an interview that most journalists in today’s world often side-line for some odd reason. Some of them are as follows:

•   Respecting privacy and cultural norms of a community

•   Avoiding psychological trauma (which Mehdi Hasan cannot ignore at all costs)

•   Obtaining consent before conducting an interview

•   Reporting the interview with precision and accuracy

Despite immense psychological pressure and disparaging questions in last night’s interview, Hina Rabbani Khar managed to respond with accuracy and confidence. At certain points during the interview, I could sense provocation being rightly reflected in Khar’s response to Hasan’s questions and that itself glorifies the tarnished image of today’s media.

Haider Rifaat

Haider Rifaat

The author is a model, actor, talk show host and writer for fashion magazines OK! Pakistan and Good Times. He is a columnist and writer for Express Tribune, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer. He is currently the creator and host of Pakistan's first ever web talk show on YouTube titled 'The Haider Rifaat Show' and is set to make his film debut in '24 Hours'. He tweets @HaiderRifaat (twitter.com/HaiderRifaat).

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