Pak electronic Media promoting alien culture
S. M. Hali
The electronic media in Pakistan got its freedom ironically at the hands of a military dictator, General Parvez Musharraf. Freedom of speech is considered to be one of the basic human rights and is included as indisputable in all major international conventions and national laws. Due to the role they play in informing the public and creating public opinion, mass media and journalists are often said to be the ‘fourth pillar’ of society. In this age of information, media plays a crucial role in informing people and it is imperative that it enjoys the freedom of expression but it should use this right judiciously.
In Pakistan, media has suffered at the hands of totalitarian regimes to win its “freedom of expression”, for which it has sacrificed tremendously. In the days of a certain military dictator, media practitioners, found straying from the laid down parameters, were even flogged publicly and endured long periods of incarceration. Once freedom of speech was achieved, the founders of the press freedom movement behaved in a mature and prudent manner, lest they endanger their new found freedom.
Unfortunately, a new breed of media practitioners has evolved, which had not been exposed to the roughshod treatment meted out to their seniors. Considering the “freedom of expression” as their birthright, they indulge in the abuse and misuse of the power of the pen or their audio-visual message on the electronic media.
Proponents of developing peaceful societies advocate tolerance but the media have increased their capacity in material, technical and personnel agenda, so that today they can independently, or, in alliance with a broader factor of political or external power, participate in creating a milieu of intolerance and violence between certain groups, but also promote tolerance and anti-discrimination as the basic values of a well-regulated society and preconditions for the personal development of each individual in that society.
Abusing their freedom of speech, media has been meddling in conflict situations. During the Lal Masjid episode some media anchors tried to become mediators, disrupting the process by the government negotiating team. During the siege of Islamabad by the deranged Sikandar, some media persons became couriers between the siege taker and the police prolonging the agony of the people and the law enforcing agencies, bringing shame to the nation.
The most reprehensible act, some elements of Pakistani electronic media are committing is the propagation of alien culture to its viewers in Pakistan. Indians had declared a decade earlier that instead of invading Pakistan physically, they would rather conquer the minds of Pakistanis by bombarding them with their culture. With this kind of guidance, our adversary after having construed that Pakistani nation is too resilient to be conquered through conventional means, started venomous propaganda against our core cultural values using indirect approach and employing the weapon of “Soft Image”. Consequently Indian dramas, songs, dances and films found their way into Pakistani culture making handful of loyal viewership, without any noteworthy official resistance by Pakistan. In fact government issued licenses to different channels for revenue earning remaining oblivious to the assaults on its cultural values. Media invaders were also facilitated by Pakistani viewers who liked Indian films, Turkish dramas and foreign advertisements. Resisting voices were too weak to stop the foreign cultural invasion. Foreign media got a free hand to create mistrust among Pakistani audience, especially the youth. Hostile cartoons and animated caricatures captured loyal audience who were fed dissenting thoughts to challenge the teachings of Islam, either indirectly or through subliminal programming.
Ironically, own media houses appear to be overwhelmed by enhancing their income and minting money. Their efforts to counter foreign propaganda lack motivation and conviction. In this regard special efforts are needed to reinvigorate media to protect Pakistani interests and project its image. Pakistan is endowed with a few patriotic and responsible media owners too, who have taken up the cudgel to contest foreign media foray designed to subvert the minds of Pakistani youth against ideological foundations of Pakistan.
It is an uphill task and a long battle, but opinion builders and bona fide intellectuals need to muster their strength to thwart the nefarious designs of the enemy to instill into the minds of the nation, especially the youth that Pakistan is our motherland and the last hope of our survival. The image of Pakistan must be well maintained and its prestige protected. This is only possible if media holds Pakistan in high esteem and does not allow any hostile propagation against Pakistan. All patriotic Pakistanis are strong supporters of the two-nation theory. Media owners should be encouraged to respect their thoughts and opinions. Any propaganda designed to create skepticism about the ideology of Pakistan deeply hurts their feelings. Media should counter all such propagation and protect the domestic audience. Core values in Pakistan are profoundly associated with the fundamental ideology of Pakistan. It is the duty of media houses to hold own value system in high esteem. The same media that is used to distort core values, can also be used to strengthen them.
The government’s regulation of content will not be acceptable to the media houses. Instead, the media owners and organizations must be urged and encouraged to develop their own code of ethics. They should develop checks and balances to ensure that the content must be suitable for the viewers in Pakistan. We are blessed to be dwelling in a land which is rich in cultural traditions. Our own folklore and intellectuals are blessed with a ripe imagination, which can present content, which can be entertaining, informative as well as conform to our own standards of morality. Alien culture pervading our air waves must be rejected by the people of Pakistan. In this endeavour, media itself must take up the task of insulating the tender minds and sensitivities of our youth to not only be protected from foreign cultural invasions aimed at corrupting our future generations. Unless this noble task is undertaken urgently, we are bound to suffer the consequences and negative connotations.