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

Published: December 22, 2015
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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).

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

  • Miyagi Jr.

    Things have gone so bad for Pakistan, that it is difficult not to feel provoked and agitated by the Questions which we have no answer for but to bow our heads in shame. The writer didn’t even mention the 2nd Amendment question thrown at her, and her reply!Recommend

  • Rohan

    Can’t answer tough questions then blame media
    Plus hina as usual obfuscated,lied and shouted at tough questions so she’s no different from the establishmentRecommend

  • jugraj

    Hina responded with accuracy ? When? Everytime tough question was asked she was not in the room. Instead blaming western media please lecture your own politicians not to lie.Recommend

  • GKA

    By calling this western media, the author is spreading lies. This interview was done by Al Jazeera which is a channel based in Qatar and owned by Qataris. The interviewer is a muslim. On the expert panel the people were of pakistani descent – all muslim. So please stop lies.

    To add – there was no pressure on Hina when she called the Defence minister incompetent, Hasan was totally surprised. She declared that she wanted to put Hafeez Saeed behind bars but could not prevail on her government to do so.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    “Throughout Hina Rabbani Khar’s controversial interview, I perceived sarcasm and rage galloping as Hasan went head-to-head with her.”

    That is because you have never seen Mehdi interviewing others and if I am wrong, you obviously believe Pakistanis deserve special treatment.

    “Despite immense psychological pressure and disparaging questions in last night’s interview, Hina Rabbani Khar managed to respond with accuracy and confidence.”

    Never knew asking tough and blunt questions is putting people under psychological pressure.

    “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.”

    Mehdi Hasan would not have tarnished his own image by asking Ms Khar such blunt questions if Pakistan had not tarnished its image by supporting the so called freedom struggles.

    If you are interested in changing your opinion of Mehdi Hasan, please do watch the next episode when he will be going head to head with a Hindu nationalist and a member of BJP/ RSS.Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    Pakistan is easy to defend if all you are doing is embellishing the truth, which is Ms. Khar’s speciality.Recommend

  • Shujaat Ali Syed

    So a make-shift writer/actor would teach a highly professional journalist who has the privilege of sitting in Oxford Union and conducting interviews with high value personalities from all over the world on how to take an interview? Good luck with that!Recommend

  • ovais

    so the point of this blog is to impress khar ??Recommend

  • wb

    If you are both an actor and a writer, stick to the former. You’re terrible at the second.

    Forget about the substance in the blog (there’s absolutely none), even the writing is banal and unstructured and how can I put it…utter garbage.

    Are you equally good at acting as you’re at blogging? Just asking.Recommend

  • Ashar

    Haider Rifaat is a tatoo of PPP. I think the interview was very fair. None of his questions were without base.Recommend

  • OSD

    Unfortunately, our politicians leave no stone un-turned to ensure that the international community always has a boat load of ammunition to throw at us. I’m not defending them; we have seen the PPP and they deserve it. But we get to feel the heat too.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I really did not follow what you tried to say…….the interview was nothing exceptional and Hina Rabbani Khar conducted herself well.Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    Because PPP and PML-N are 2 sides of the same coin. Their main policy is, you scratch my back and I scratch yours. PPP when in power couldn’t even capture Benazir’s killers or hang Mumtaz Qadri, so you can imagine how helpless they are in front of religious parties. They are all helpless cowards.

    PS: Al-Jazeera is just another satellite channel of the west owned by Qataris, and we all know who owns the Qataris.Recommend

  • Ram

    dude you remind of Rishi Kapoor from movie Hina by Raj kappor, Hina makes an aweful pot and her mother says “Isko Koi Deawanee Hi Karide”, you seems to be buy into her looks as there was nothing extraordinary about the interview she just seems to be more eloquent bunch of spoiled brats as Billal, RahulRecommend

  • Ali S

    Have you seen Mehdi Hasan’s interviews with other politicians? He’s a notoriously tough interviewer who doesn’t hold back, and in a good way. If you want to see an example of media ethics being blown to smithereens, have a look at the way our local channels covered the grieving parents of those who died in APS Peshawar.

    But to Hina’s credit, I think she handled it surprisingly well – especially considering that she had to defend what is arguably the worst government this country has ever seen.Recommend

  • Nana

    Billal? who is Billal?Recommend

  • Nana

    Shouted? Now that’s a lie, I’ve never seen her losing cool.Recommend

  • Rohan

    Watch the video again, near the 42 minute mark.She’s like ‘DON’T BLAME US’Recommend

  • Felix Feline

    Since when is Al Jazeera ‘Western Media’?Recommend

  • Hameedullah

    “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 think this statement needs a correction. Oh but blaming middle eastern media is not going to be a click bait. I get it ET.Recommend

  • Hameedullah

    “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 think this statement needs a correction. Oh but blaming middle eastern media is not going to be a click bait. I get it ET.Recommend