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.

On one talk show of a very famous news channel, the host brought a guest by name of Shaharyar Niazi, who claimed to be the Deputy Head of Mission Karachi in British Consulate. He said that on the basis of the evidences, he will launch a lobbying campaign among the two countries, Pakistan and UK, to get Altaf Hussain convicted on these serious cases. How credible was that person or the papers that he brought to the talk show? Why didn’t the host investigated about the person and his claims before bringing him on the show? Shouldn’t these journalists be doing investigation on the materials, which he/she is going to present to the people?

In Pakistan, mostly electronic media has been used for the criminalization of opponents. Since 2013, Karachi operation started, we have seen many arrests of political workers. They all, without investigation and conviction through courts, are called as murderers, target killers and extortionists in News bulletin and talk shows. But did media every follow up on the cases of those who were released after torture without bringing them into the court of law; or why weren’t the cases of custodial deaths due to severe tortures highlighted in the media? The Human Right Commission of Pakistan has released several reports on missing persons and custodial deaths of Karachi but we don’t see such reports being discussed on the talk shows as it is a major public issue of Pakistan.

How many talk shows’ anchors have ever done the investigations on major crises that Pakistan is facing these days? From electricity shortage which is the main factor of stagnated economy and rising unemployment rate in the country. The corroded education system and illiteracy are the main reasons of terrorism. How many institutes are involved in research-based education since the beginning and what work has been done in the area of research and development in major fields in Pakistan?

Since the 2013 election, people of Pakistan are only seeing either criminalization of the political force or confrontation among the other political forces. The 2013 transfer of power was the major democratic historical event of Pakistan, in which first democratic government handed over the power to the next elected government. But since then, some politically immature leaders have created a deadlock situation in the country, and media is equally responsible for giving importance to such harum-scarum politicians, who don’t believe in the power of parliament but in affray.

I think, public has realized the immaturity of media and now shows lack of interest in such brawly talk shows. This means that people of Pakistan are getting mentally mature and they expect some useful and educative material and discussion on real issues. They will decide their vote not by the electronic media’s talk shows but by their will and wisdom.


Author: Farheen Rizvi


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