Media’s hate brigade 

media hatesBy S. M. Hali 

Media has come long way from the town crier announcing recent events, pasting printed news posters at the town hall to the television, radio, print and social media. Technological advancements have empowered media to become a reflecting mirror of society. On the one hand, media has the capacity to inform as well as entertain, on the other, unbridled editorial policy and absence of checks and balances can allow a media owner to wield tremendous clout with which it can take on the pillars of society and rub their noses in dust. Unbridled media influence prowess can enable blackmail, leading to extortion, coercion and oppression.

Since Pakistani media got its freedom and lost its fetters followed by little or no regulatory monitoring, the bandits among the media started misusing this liberty under the garb of “Freedom of Expression”. This brand of media quotes the freedom of expression guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution but forgets that the libel laws in the west are equally powerful and no media house can cast slander or aspersions against an individual or institution without proof or evidence. If the media in the west misuses its freedom, it can be taken to court and if found culpable of blackmail, coercion or libel, it has to pay compensation to the tune of millions of Dollars. The brigands of Pakistani media found it opportune to avail the media tools available to them as a weapon to exploit and coerce Government functionaries, public sector bureaucrats, top businessmen, political leaders and prestigious institutions including Judiciary, Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies. Sensationalism and scandalous reporting have become the hallmark of media while reputation of esteemed national institutions is recklessly damaged through aggressive bashing without realizing the outcome.

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In this free for all milieu, enemies of the state found it opportune to settle their own scores according their agenda. The targets have been powerful institutions like the Army or ISI or otherwise to shake the confidence of the masses in their own government functionaries so that chaos, anarchy and destabilization prevail. Pakistan’s detractors found willing partners in such media group to further their machinations.

They found an open field to play their odious games since the watchdog of the government; PEMRA was found lacking in wherewithal to enforce discipline. The absence of the means to check negative media trends only emboldened and encouraged the media bandits to conduct their unbridled use of force to mould the thoughts and minds of their audience in joining in the bashing of selected state institutions. The contents of their tirade are analogous to propaganda products of India, US and other anti Pakistan elements. PEMRA’s psychological fixation (in fact gross negligence) on freedom of expression encouraged certain media anchors and reporters to openly criticize the Armed Forces and ISI, thereby, facilitating promotion of foreign agenda.

Pretty soon, a hate brigade comprising TV anchors, columnists and analysts began to prevail and overshadow the media environment. Their barbs and taunts were directed against the Armed Forces and ISI. Their modus operandi has been to hold TV Talk Shows and invite other members of the Hate Brigade as the participants. Their agenda points at lust for money, ambition to attain prominence, false proclamation of being activists of truth while spreading hate and prejudice against their own Armed Forces and ISI, while pretending to be acting in good faith and patriotic Pakistanis. Their mode of operation comprises publishing articles in praise of other hate-mongers, supporting each other’s views and polluting the minds of audience to promote biased predispositions. The Hate Brigade uses media as a weapon and feels no shame in promoting Indian media content while downplaying Pakistan’s nationalistic views. Their criticism against own Government system and Armed Forces is so venomous that domestic audiences openly complain of feeling out of sorts after watching their Talk Show and after going through their articles.

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Whereas the nation is already teetering and tottering under the onslaught of terror attacks by the TTP, the Hate Brigade of the media is conducting its own terrorizing and their operations are no less deadly than those of the Taliban.

The incident of an armed attack on one of the active members of the Hate Brigade has been condemned by all and sundry but the Hate Brigade used the incident to launch a massive attack on Pakistan Army and ISI, brazenly accusing the DG ISI to be guilty of master minding the attack and demanding justice. This assault continued for eight hours, Finally Ministry of Defence took cognizance of the blatant attack on a state institution. The inherent weakness in PEMRA impeded prompt action. After forty five days of deliberation, the Hate Brigade got away with only a rap on the knuckle. Fifteen days of closure of one of its news channels and a fine of Rs. Ten million, an amount it can recover through commercials in one hour’s broadcast.

This legal action only bolstered the Hate Brigade. Instead of expressing any sense of repentance, it counter sued the Ministry of Defence, PEMRA and ISI for a sum of Rupees Fifty Billion each.

No lesson has been learnt by the Hate Brigade as it continues to callously exploit the tense situation and propagate that the civilian government and Pak Army are not on the same page regarding the approach to the war on terror and dealing with the Taliban. Their constant harping has been that the Government is supporting dialogue with the TTP while Army is hell bent upon launching an operation against the miscreants.

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The Hate Brigade went to the extent of proliferating that Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif was keen on accepting the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi to attend the inaugural ceremony in New Delhi but the Pakistan Army was placing impediments to the visit. Nothing could be further from the truth but such is the modus Vivendi of the Hate brigade that it will leave no stone unturned in denigrating the Army and serve the agenda of its masters.