Pakistani media: a noise box

Shaharyar Niazi on Geo

Due to the “absence of adequate evidence”, the Scotland Yard cleared, MQM chief Altaf Hussain in the money laundering case. According to Pakistan media, Metropolitan Police confirmed it that the investigation into the money laundering case against the MQM chief and others has been concluded.

Altaf Hussain was facing the media trial on the above mentioned case for more than three years. While his case was under investigation by the Law Enforcers of United Kingdom, the electronic media in Pakistan had convicted him with the crime.

Pakistani electronic media especially the evening talk shows are losing the credibility among the viewers. They have become more like a noise box than informative medium for the public. When it comes to journalistic ethics and norms, Pakistan electronic media has opted it out for the choice “Pay as you go” trend. The International Journal of Communication from the University of Southern California did a study called “Beyond the Western masses: Demography and Pakistani Media Credibility Perception” based on survey. The study examined Pakistani media’s credibility among the people of Pakistan with respect to their ethnic backgrounds. They found out that ethnicity is a key indicator in predicting media credibility. According to their result, the minority ethnic groups tend to find domestic television to be less credible, and international television to be more credible, than do members of the majority Punjabi group. In the study, “local television” was used for any type of television channel run by government or private media companies and serviced through aerial or cable/satellite connections in Pakistan, distinguishable from international television. But according to survey, in Pakistan the International media like CNN, BBC, and Al-Jazeera has smaller audiences as compared to Urdu-speaking channels.

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How to control home grown terrorism

British-men-appear-in-jihadi-recruitment-video

The terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday of November 13th,2015 have revived the debate about the root causes of terrorism and what the world must do to deal with the threat. Some young people are voicing their rage through social media against Islam, western policy, refugees or whomsoever they might find objectionable. Politicians and world leaders are issuing statements depending on their political or community needs and obligations. The variety of arguments notwithstanding, one thing is clear. ISIS will not be deterred by air strikes inside Syria alone.

The devastating attack on the city of lights that killed 130 people, involved European citizens, including Frenchmen. Even if ISIS is deprived of its base in Syria and Iraq, its affiliates are now in the heart of Europe.  The battle for Syria may be important but the battle for Europe might not necessarily end with the end of the war in Syria. Moreover, homegrown European terrorists will continue to threaten Europe with arguments about a clash between Islamic and western civilizations. Barring immigrants trying to escape brutality in the Middle East will only strengthen the hatred that Jihadis thrive on.

France responded the attack by an air strike on Islamic State’s (ISIS) command and control system on the city of Raqqa. But what measures can a state take to control the rising home grown terrorism. From air strikes, to war, from destabilizing dictators to rebuilding nations; we have seen all the measures taken by the United States and its western allies.

Still, western citizens — our own citizens – continue to be used by terrorists to destroy our peace and freedom. After spending trillions of dollars and using most sophisticated weapons and surveillance technology, we are forced to think that the terrorists, whether Taliban, Al-Qaida or ISIS, have clearer plans than our leaders’ strategy.

 President Obama offered US assistance to France, while condemning the Paris attack. But after few days, ISIS threatened to attack Washington D.C.

The question is that, are these air strikes that we seeing for two decades enough to secure the homeland? Haven’t we seen this menace grown bigger and bigger every day?

In recent target, the places ISIS chose are mostly crowded by young people, and so were the attackers. If we do a little research on the assailants of Paris like attacks, they were mostly young men, which show that young people are highly vulnerable to fall for such ideology.  And sometimes, the constant media rhetoric against one community or religion also upraises the hatred in young minds against the system.

 In June 2015, Ali Shikri, a 17-year old young man, from Manassas Virginia was pleaded guilty for helping another 18-year old man, Reza Niknejad, who traveled to Syria to join ISIS.  Shikri would be graduated from high school but instead pleaded guilty for providing assistance to a terrorist. During investigation Shikri admitted of encouraging ISIS and its supporters on social media. He was managing a twitter account for this purpose.

No one can be radicalized over night by reading online material or seeing pictures of war torn cities or dead bodies. I personally know that a large number of Muslims take their children to either religious schools or religious groups, both held in their local mosques on Sundays. Usually, many Islamic countries offer mosques for fund and in return ask the mosques to spread their way of Islam (radicalized), and bring the preachers (Imams) of their choice.

Recently, Egypt Ministry has confiscated more than 7000 books written on Salafism from mosques and libraries due to immense threat of home grown terrorism spread through hate material.  Homeland security should do close monitoring on what material mosques are teaching to these young children in religious schools. Local representatives should do monthly questioning sessions with mosques administration to find out what activities are they holding recently.

Religious education is not harmful as long as the students are learning religion as a way of living a life of a civilized citizen. I send my children to a Sunday school, and feel that it’s my duty to closely watch their syllabus and lectures. Keeping eyes on religious school library’s books, available for children, can be a good step from parents. These are simplest roles we can play to save the future.  In past we had seen mosque like Dar al-HIjrah of Virginia’s involvement in terrorist activities. 

Therefore, close monitoring is important but closing down the mosques, as Donald Trump suggested in presidential debate, will create more polarization in the society. A community will go in isolation, which can result in backlash. The isolated, young men are vulnerable to get recruited by groups like ISIS. They easily get brainwashed against their own country and society due to unjustified measures.  The U.S and allies should share the information about the local terrorists of which mosques they visited daily? What books are being used in those mosques?  The reason is that, not all sects of Islam preach such hatred and promote killing of innocent people. In fact, with non-Muslims, many different sects of Islam have been targeted by terrorist groups like ISIS.

Now is the time to fight this war at home by respecting the citizens’ rights. The measures like monitoring the mosques and ideology they spread, engaging the administration in dialogues and doing background check of Imams of the mosques can become useful. We also need to bring the real face of Muslims (those who are against terrorism) forward, where they can preach a peaceful message among other sects (who have been misled) and other communities.

Democracy Surrenders in Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif and Gen RaheelPakistani authorities are clamping down on discussion of excesses committed by law enforcement personnel as the country struggles with its half-hearted battle against terrorism. A woman activist was killed on April 24th just hours she hosted an event for a dissident from the embattled province of Baluchistan. Pakistans establishment considers advocates of Baloch autonomy as separatists and have focused more resources on fighting them than in confronting Islamist terrorists, who were Pakistans allies in Afghanistan and in India in Kashmir.

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