War on Terror – Part 2: Political Parties and Media in Pakistan

Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about public support in Pakistan for our role in “war on terror” and gave reasons for which Pakistanis – in general – do not confirm Pakistan’s role in this war. Today, I will talk about our Political forces and role of our media and its support to Pakistan’s war on terror.

Political Parties

Our political parties throughout the history of Pakistan have exploited this nation in the name of democracy – just to get into the power. They were never able to get public support but supported public anger, frustration and hatred (for rulers at time) to get the support. No political party has ever given an agenda to work on but just the popular slogans to bag the votes or to destabilize the government at time. Unlike in civilized countries – where “democracy” is implemented like a democracy, where political parties survive based on their policies rather personalities, where public issues are crucial  to win votes, where parties are not political dynasties – our  political parties ( generally) are like group of people who fight with rivals just to hang on to power or to get into the power. They do this in the name of democracy, in the name of “public interest” and yet there is no democracy in Pakistan and “public” fighting over “aatta” (flour). Our political leaders are creation of our hatred for others.

In 2001, the leadership of major political parties was in exile and – as we have parties based on the personalities – there was a political vacuum. However, the political forces – that were present in the country at that time – did not approve of Musharraf’s “u-turn” in our foreign policy – and those who did were insignificant. These political forces opposed our policy on this “war on terror” not because they had a better foreign policy but they wanted to get popular; as its normal for political parties to get popularity by opposing the government. For these political parties, there was no argument of being responsible or being patriot or being principled– though they claimed; their resistance to Pakistan’s policy was because of their hate for a dictator and to get support of angry public. It was time when they all should have got together and forgot their personal grudges, when they all should have thought about “Pakistan First”, when they all should have stopped scoring points against each other, when all should have shown the facts to the public rather sparking more anger inside them; unfortunately that did not happen. In their hatred for a dictator, they supported – intentionally or intentionally – those elements who are, today, challenging writ of the govt. everywhere in this country. 

Even today, after 7 years since 2001, these political parties are not in agreement for on policy and everyone is calling its own shots – mostly with motions only. It’s a shame. 

Media

About a year ago, I wrote “Pakistani Media, Freedom and Responsibility”, where I discussed about the responsibility of Media and its powers. I talked about how irresponsible our Media is and today, after a year, I still have the same opinion.

We talk proudly about our media for being “free” and “vigilant” but we forget that freedom and vigilance does not mean bringing distress to people, it does mean to demoralize the public.

If you do not understand what I am bragging about then watch this video clip that will put you in deep anxiety and may make you insomniac. And then watch this video that talks about the same situation – that first one does or may be worst – but still leaves you hopeful and optimistic.

That’s the difference a media can make, media can pull the morals high in worst situations, media can unite a divided nation on one issue and media can make people to take on their responsibilities. Unfortunately, our media doesn’t do any of this; all we see on our TV screens is that sparks anger in public, makes them more frustrated and depressed, makes them more divided and make them more violent. If you read newspaper, just looking at the reporter’s name, you can tell what the report would be? Who it would be against? Who would have been criticized? How sensational it would be? It is hard to find an unbiased opinion from these reporters (off course there are few exceptions). 

Media could have led us to unite on this “war on terror”, media could have presented the facts to people rather selling emotional videos and talk shows to the public, media could have done intellectual debates to set an opinion rather gathering a bunch of emotional people who were just against govt. policy on “war on terror” – and then calling it public opinion. In these 7 years in “war on terror”, all media did is to criticize our policy and to promote people’s anger and emotion; why wouldn’t they have done this, after all it was the selling product. They sensationalized every aspect of “war on terror” to sell it more to the public and a little importance was given to “being responsible”.

Whether you agree with govt. foreign policy or not, interviewing people like “Molana Fazl-ullah” (a militant leader in Swat) was never supposed to help in reducing militancy or in helping Pakistan to deal with militancy. Only a responsible media can ascertain as to showing what on TV can be of assistance in handling with terrorism that Pakistan is facing today. 

Conclusion:

With the aim of fighting crises that Pakistan is facing today – be it “war on terror”, economic or any other – both political parties and media will have to change their current policies.

Political forces need to sit together putting all their personal grievances back and devise a common policy to fight with current issue – if this goes against public emotions then so it is, explain people with facts and they will understand. Politicians need to come united to fight all these challenges that we face today – even if this demands a change in their “principled” stance on certain issues. 

On the other hand it’s time for media to start taking things with responsibility. It needs to start showing both sides of the pictures rather showing only what people want to see or only what sells best. Media needs to rise above any political party, group, movement, institution or anything and needs to start looking at things with an unbiased eye.

What’s next:

In the next part of this discussion, I will talk about Pakistan’s Policy (read: Musharaf’s Policy) and role of Pakistan army in this ”war on terror”.

One Response to “War on Terror – Part 2: Political Parties and Media in Pakistan”

  1. merashakeel Says:

    After I read part 1 of this post, I had the same thoughts about what media should do in this hard time. Part 2 rightly has addressed the same. I totally agree with you that media has a bigger role than ever now, especially. But problem is that all these media people do support one or the other political party of Pakistan hence we easily make out the contents of a news story by just looking at the name of the writer.

    Untill or unless our media men start supporting PAKISTAN first, I fear that we can only dream of having a really responsible media.


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