Category Archives: Voice of Pakistani Media

PML-N’s Relations with the Press and Media

Fakiha Hassan Rizvi
May 26, 2013

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz (PML-N) is geared up to govern Pakistan, under the leadership of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. Third chance to grasp the throne, inevitably, precipitates multiple hopes, expectations and above all, renewed political acumen.

A substantial mandate and favorable public opinion has made Nawaz indebted towards the nation. Members of the civil society appreciate his humility, however, in my opinion, this should have been an obvious outcome, keeping in view the degree of trust that the nation bestowed upon him. Several factors contributed to his victory. Among the long list, projection given to PML-N by the media stands out.

Few months before the elections almost all the television channels made their prime time slot anchor persons sit in the Metro bus with Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, the then Chief Minister of Punjab province (and hopefully the new one as well). Three exclusive interviews were given by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to a single private television channel in 2012.

On the other hand, his younger brother always enticed media’s eye with his fiery rhetoric and unique speeches studded with rhythmic abstracts from the poems of Habib Jalib. Shahbaz even encountered the ‘youthful Tsunami’ under the captaincy of Imran Khan and organized events like Youth Festival to get Pakistan’s name in the Guinness Book of World Records. The partnership of Guinness World Record with the Punjab Youth Festival was peculiar and a rare accord in the country’s history. Whatever the reasons, it provided PML-N immense ‘media exposure’ before the formal electioneering campaigns began.

A glance at the past explains that the present-day press in general had been quite sympathetic towards PML-N in the context of party’s relations with the media during its previous tenure. During 1999’s Nawaz had become increasingly intolerant and frequent attempts were made to muzzle the media. Journalists were harassed and victimized during 1988-99.

– Mahmud Lodhi (a Lahore-based journalist), was picked up and held in illegal custody for two days. He was inquired about his involvement with a BBC team filming a documentary on the rise and wealth of the Sharif family.

– CIA police raided the residence of Idrees Bakhtiar, staff reporter of the Herald and Karachi-based correspondent of the BBC. This was the fate of journalists and media professionals associated with international media outlets like the BBC.

Those affiliated with national or regional publications were gagged more severely.

– The owner of The Frontier Post, Rehmat Shah Afridi, was arrested in Lahore on April 2, 1999. The Peshawar-based Frontier Post was critical of government’s policies.

– Najam Sethi, the Editor of Friday Times was arrested from his house in Lahore in the most unethical and humiliating manner reportedly on the orders of Nawaz Sharif. Later, Nawaz Sharif reportedly asked the then Chief of Army Staff General Musharraf to charge Mr. Sethi under the Pakistan Army Act for being a traitor.

– The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom organization, said on June 1, 1999 that it was conducting an investigation into a “hit list” prepared by the Pakistan government that had names of 35 prominent Pakistani journalists. According to reports received by the CPJ, the federal government had decided to establish a special media cell comprising officials from the police, Intelligence Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency to punish journalists, who had been writing against the government.

The aforementioned examples don’t indicate PML-N as a tolerant party when it comes to the press. It shouldn’t be forgotten that ‘if’ Nawaz believed in a free and impartial national media, he could have stopped dictatorial boots from coming in the political arena of the country for the third time. The army could have taken over the PTV station at that time as it was the only broadcast television channel then. Had there been networks like Geo TV and more space for journalists to express their opinions, things would have been nearly impossible for General Musharraf.

PML-N needs to revise the past acts against the media and press. The party shouldn’t forget what the media has done to make its success certain in the general elections of 2013. In the latest article published in Newsweek, which considered Nawaz to be the most significant leader in Pakistan’s history after Jinnah it has been suggested that the PML-N should avoid its over-responsiveness to the media and be more logical. Among other obvious indicators of good governance, PML-N’s relations with the press and media would be under stringent observation this time.

(The writer is a student of BS Mass Communication at the University of the Punjab and blogs at


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Watchdog’s version of Elections 2013

Fakiha Hassan Rizvi
May 13, 2013

LAHORE: The much coveted elections were conducted on the proposed date and with an overwhelming voter turnout. Ultimately, the lions roared, taking the leverage from the citadel of Punjab province and the bat swept prominently in the valleys of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), except for the province of Sindh, limped in other parts of the country.

Amidst all the hassle of electioneering, counting of votes and the overall coverage of the ‘Election Day’, the role of media had been worthwhile and interesting at the same time. It was, perhaps, the only election in the political history of Pakistan, to which the media gave ample time and space. The pre-planned structure of General Elections, a relatively viable socio-political environment and the mushrooming of private television channels, together, contributed to lend the elections better media coverage.

On May 9, 2013, it was Geo TV that inaugurated an emotionally-charged election headquarters with Iqbal’s poem (Lab pai ati hai dua ban kai tamana mairee- My longing comes to my lips as a supplication of mine) with the entire Geo and Jang network vowing to give credible coverage of Elections 2013 to its viewers.

The entire set of Geo studio was transformed, in order to make the elections a special occasion for the nation. Both political analysts and public figures were invited to share their expert opinions about the elections. Such headquarters were the only one of its kind in the ‘mass media time line’ of Pakistan. This channel swung its coverage in favor of PTI the day Imran Khan fell and the nation commiserated with the captain. Such a U-turn must have been a surprise for supporters of PML-N who were enjoying favorable media coverage from Geo network days before the unfortunate incident overtook PTI’s chairman.

Dunya TV adopted an anti-PML-N stance right from the beginning of election campaign. It was apparently involved in a cut-throat competition with Geo network to declare unofficial results of the ‘vote-count’. The state television, PTV, took a proper route to announce unofficial results. Unlike the other private channels, the satellite based PTV didn’t announce results before the time for casting votes ended. Interestingly, during the bombardment of unofficial results, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) reminded the media outlets that they were violating the rules by declaring results before the polling closed.

However, the intriguing aspect was that electoral malpractices and cases of rigging were first reported through the social media. For instance, the most trending topics for the social information network, ‘Twitter’, were #NofearKhi and #DisqualifyMQM followed by #rigging and #Saad Rafiq.

The blast in NA-1, Peshawar that claimed the life of 11 people, was first reported by citizen journalists through websites like Facebook. The citizen journalists effectively used tools of communication like Internet and Smart phones to collect and report data. An interesting and healthy campaign, ‘iVoted’, published pictures of people with stained thumbs to show that Pakistanis were cognizant about their social obligation of casting votes.

It can be concluded that in the future, election coverage will be a battle between social media versus conventional media. On the other hand, watchdog’s version of Elections 2013, can be compared to a canvas, which every television channel wanted to stain first without paying much heed to rules and credibility.


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Media Spin and Elections 2013

Fakiha Hassan Rizvi
May 06, 2013

LAHORE: For the first time in the political history of Pakistan, dictatorial fists are not in a position to muzzle the press or media outlets. However, irresponsible use of freedom will be followed by a trust deficit between ‘watchful media’ and its consumers.

With the elections around the corner ‘voters’ education’ through the mediated messages of electronic and print outlets is gaining momentum. Where paid political advertisements flash frequently on the television screen, commentaries about ‘what next?’ are also surfacing at a swift pace. Voters are being sensitized politically and the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power carries precedence under the umbrella of various media organizations.

Undoubtedly, mass communicated messages have a certain impact on public opinion and voting behaviors of the people. It is a positive development, like other democratic practices, emergence of the watchdog role of media would turn out to be a decisive factor in the upcoming elections. On the contrary, if the media barons and analysts adopt a nonchalant attitude, then the struggle for indoctrinating democratic values will be abortive. Contextual manipulation or misrepresentation of political parties is a violation of the guidelines framed for the fourth pillar of the state (i.e the media). As devised by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), rules should be followed by mass media, with ‘public good’ being its foremost priority.

Instead of cutting excerpts from the old speeches of politicians and joining them to depict an altogether different and misleading message, focus should be converged on electoral manifestos and election campaigns. Adducing electoral malpractices and projecting the transgressions of political parties during the election campaigns should be the primary goal of Pakistani media.

A report by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) reveals that around 89 percent of the 49 ‘observed’ election rallies violated the rules set by the ECP. Rallies are fervently shown without any allusion towards the way they deviate from the rules and regulations. All the mainstream political parties including Pakistan Tehreek -e-Insaaf, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, Jamaat-e-Islami and even Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam-F have jeered at the principles for conducting rallies, but the electronic media turned a blind eye to such violations or downplayed them.

In a country like Pakistan, where majority of the people are illiterate and depend heavily on visual communication, privately owned television channels need to be careful. The pliant or murky attitude of a relatively free media can have adverse effects on public opinion. There are a number of guidelines that conform to ethical reporting of facts and obligate each component of a particular television channel (ranging from talk shows to political advertisements) to be impartial. In line with this code, even the paid political advertisements of various political parties should get equal time, space and projection in the media. No particular party should be given the leverage of additional representation at the expense of other parties.

With a clear boundary demarcated to tap the potential of media, positively, there is no reason for broadcasting houses or other sources of information to deviate from it. On the other hand, in case of gross violation of the ethical code of conduct, the ECP has also directed to make corrections adequately, where required. The media has been granted the liberty to be critical of the policies and electioneering of political parties, but at the same time reminds it to distinguish between manipulation and constructive criticism.

It is an abysmal fact that some of the mainstream television channels are not abiding by ECP’s media code of conduct. As a result, the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN), a global coalition of media professional groups and journalists, is purporting a ground-breaking monitoring program led by citizen journalists. Under this program, the performance of local journalists and media coverage of elections 2013 will be carefully scrutinized. The initiative – Pakvotes’ – comprises a handful of trained citizen journalists. It is relying on around 40 field monitors armed with smart phones in various parts of the country. The citizen journalists will report electoral malpractices, especially in conflict-ridden regions like Balochistan.

It is heartening that the incompetence of mainstream media outlets has rendered this ‘observatory role’ to be transferable. Citizen journalists, who usually work voluntarily and are often unpaid workers, will now be making a worthwhile effort during the upcoming elections. Apart from keeping an eye on the menaces of rigging and bribed voting, they’ll also keep a check on media’s performance. Reports that will be overlooked by the national media, won’t go unattended this time as Pakvotes aims to project them to social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Although their strength is negligible, in the future, their performance can help to frame a well-planned monitoring map for electoral campaigns after 2013.  In addition to this, campaigns of this nature provide a moment of honest reflection for the country’s media organizations. It would be a despondent embarrassment if the media fails to deliver to the masses and does not guide them in a reasonable and responsible manner for ‘Elections 2013’. ‘Media spin’ will tarnish credibility of journalists and broadcasters, something that isn’t a good omen for any democratic transition.
(The writer is a BS Mass Communication student at the University of the Punjab, Lahore and blogs at She is also
Editor-in-Chief – The Voice of Youth  – an online youth blog).


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Roy’s Chal Parha: Education Emergency!

We’ve seen some scintillating performances by Shehzad Roy ranging from ’Laga rahay’ to ‘Uth Baandh Kamar kya Darta hai’. His proximity with the general public and the extent to which he seeks solutions for the myriad problems being faced by Pakistan, exhibit his patriotism. On the other hand, his non-governmental organization – ‘Zindagi Trust’ has burgeoned up since 2007 to contest the case of ‘education emergency’ in Pakistan.

Being a pop-singer, Roy is both a motivation and a lesson for any young adult living in this country. Unlike many, he isn’t chasing projection in the neighbouring media outlets, allured by ‘piles of money’ or the lust for fame. If he continues with his efforts, there are good enough chances for him to introduce a new ‘genre’ in Pakistani music industry– something like ‘social responsibility’.
Similar to other institutional transitions budding in the Pakistani society, ‘music’ also requires a reorientation. The mass media (including ‘music’ as a means of communication) is also ploughing for a ‘fresh crop’ that wants to satisfy the need of ‘social uplift’.

Making the message of ‘positive change’ vocal, isn’t an easy task. However, ‘music’ seems to be the compatible format considering the level of ignorance and illiteracy in the Pakistani society. Any nation heading towards intellectual demise should be purported by arts, literature and music to engender the thirst for ‘knowledge’.

Chal Parha- a new program being aired on GEO TV during prime time slot is a success story for the local media. It is for the first time that the most urgent need of the country has seeped into the electronic media to grab the ‘time’ and ‘space’ of a television channel. The show is unique with regards to purpose and format. Above all, it has the privilege of ‘Shehzad Roy’ serving as a testimonial.

As the renowned singer himself says: “In this show, I travel across 80 cities in Pakistan from Attabad Jheel and Gulmit to Gojal and Thar and film in more than 200 government schools. In each episode we highlight an issue from public schools for example, corporal punishment, medium of instruction, population, textbooks, curriculum, teachers etc” 

Zealous Roy also gets a chance to fulfil his passion for ‘bike riding’, while hunting for the loop holes in the education sector of Pakistan. You’ll get a chance to see schools where donkeys (real ones) are found in the class rooms. The host will open the doors of those buildings where the future of the country is being prepared or where the majority of the children can afford to go.

The promotional song (Chal Parha) of the program defines the digression of the society, in general, for not giving due attention to ’education’. In a light yet piercing manner, the lyrics serve as a stringer for the listeners. It is a rhythmic reminder to rescue the country from the darkness of illiteracy through the light of ’education’. Moreover, an allusion towards another dilemma of the society has also been made, that is, the non-acceptance or indifference shown to talented people. Roy selects a young girl hailing from Faisalabad as a co-vocalist for the song in order to encourage her exceptional singing abilities. She complains of the lack of projection given to talented individuals in Pakistan, the reason she hums melodiously: Pair ho par saya na ho, din ho par ujala na ho, aisaa mumkin nahi… (‘how can hope and darkness coexist?’). Shehzad aptly responds to this: Yai anhonee jo baat hai, mairay dais k saath hai (this strange thing is seen in ‘my’ country).

Chal Parha is another call to declare ‘education emergency’ in Pakistan – not just by adding Article 25-A in the Constitution, but to ensure its fair and proper implementation. It aims at revolutionizing the education system of the country for saving the lives of innumerable talented gems and to alter the fate of Pakistan.

Originally written for The News International Blog:

Chal Parha-Roy


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Uprising in the Middle East and the Role of Social Media

English: Middle East Map

English: Middle East Map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Professor Dr.Ahsan Akhtar Naz
Director Institute of Communication Studies
University of the Punjab, New Campus, Lahore

“It is imperative for the students to remain well-acquainted with current affairs as in near future all of them would be a part of media organizations. The uprising in Middle East is a unique event in international politics”.

Mr. Javed Iqbal
Host at Dunya TV

“Dictatorship has always been defined as ‘one man rule’. The recent change in the Middle East was a protest against the verdict of one man”.

Mr.Javed Iqbal expressed the view that credibility of social media is increasing day by day which was evident by the uprising initiated through its help.

Dr. Mansoor Jaffar
News Techniques Instructor

“A change of phase has definitely occurred in the Middle East but it was not followed by the real change which is the need of the hour. As private media was under the control of the state, therefore people dwelling in the Middle East used social media. Interactive social networking websites have gained power which eventually enabled the people to trigger a disciplined protest, moreover, Persian versions of Twitter and Facebook were introduced to facilitate the people”.

Dr. Mansoor told the audience that a journalist is considered as a spy in Arab states, which obstructs the effectiveness of mass media and thus decreases its credibility. He suggested all the students of communication studies whether print, electronic or social media to understand the significance of person-to-person communication.

Mr. Shahid Malik
Working for BBC for the past 25 years

“Media doesn’t modify facts rather it processes them efficiently using their effective gate keeping. ‘Stateless media’ could be counted as ‘social media’ which has the ability to bring about a revolution”.

Dr. Ijaz Butt
Professor of International Relations and Political science
Principal, Government College Township, Lahore

“Monarchical regimes persist for a long time and do not pay heed to public aspirations. Consequently, corruption prevails in such circumstances, fomenting people to get infuriated and call for a change. American hold on the Middle East was directly linked with the vested interest of the USA. On the other hand, Middle Eastern rulers exchange oil for arms and ammunition in order to stabilize their regimes”.

Dr. Ijaz was of the view that social media has helped the people to stay informed and trigger a change but this change was directionless as no one mobilized the masses.

Dr Bushra Hameed ur Rehman
Assistant Professor of Mass Communication
Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab

Dr. Bushra.H.Rehman defined social networking as ‘two-way traffic’.

“ ‘Judicial Activism’ in Pakistan was due to the use of social media. Egyptian uprising was a consequence of the mass protest orchestrated by people of action. Whereas, in Pakistan people have a perspective that if they have criticized something inappropriate then they have done their part and nobody is prepared to take an action against it”.


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Tina Foster Stigmatizes the US for its Violation of Human Rights

Human Rights Defence

Human Rights Defence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Aafia Siddiqui from her FBI wanted poster

Originally held on December 21, 2010 

Tina Foster

Tina Monshipour Foster is the founder and Executive Director of the International Justice Network.  Ms. Foster serves as lead counsel in IJNetwork’s litigation on behalf detainees imprisoned without charge at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and other international human cases against the United States government involving enforced disappearances, torture, rendition, and prolonged arbitrary detention.  In addition to her work at IJN, Ms. Foster also represents corporations, non-profits, and individuals who have been targeted or profiled in national security investigations in her private practice at the Law Office of Tina M. Foster.

“Violation of human rights,in any form,signals the degeneration of ‘human values‘. Media can play a decisive role for the safety of human rights.”

Suggestion: Sensitization of human rights must take place from primary level at schools and should strengthen till University level.
Criticism: Western Media is portraying Islam as a barrier to peace.

“The people of Pakistan must put pressure on the country’s leadership and administration to hold talks with the US government regarding Aafia’s return to Pakistan. In case, a Christian woman in Pakistan would have been arrested and convicted under Pakistani laws, the US would have exhibited all their might to bring her back. It’s not just Aafia, it’s the case of the entire, abandoning Aafia would mean that any Pakistani citizen can be trampled by the US”. 

Professor Dr Ahsan Akhtar Naz 
Director, Intsitute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab 

“Students of University of the Punjab, in particular, have been playing a significant part in national and international movements.”

Dr. Fouzia Siddiqui – Sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui
Human Rights Activist

“9/11 had made conditions worse for the American-Muslims, we are being victimized and subjugated.” 

Also read
You: US federal court dismisses Dr Aafia Siddiqui appeal plea ( 38/dr-aafia-siddiqui-trial/182-dr-aafia-siddiqui

Note from the Author  I joined the Institute of Communication Studies in October 2010 and enjoyed the privilege of attending ‘almost’ all the weekly seminars arranged at the Institute. These seminars fueled critical debates, interactive sessions and thought-provoking discussions over sociopolitical issues. Usually, top media commentators, journalists, analysts and experts were invited as guests. The tradition still carries on.Unfortunately, I didn’t post all the reports on my blog which I used to draft right after the last speaker left the mic. At that time I was serving as the Assistant Editor for the official News Bulletin of the Institute of Communication Studies. I have left the post, but my passion hasn’t died. I shall be sharing (one by one) the views/comments of all the speakers that came in the seminars to discuss national and international issues. In my opinion, it is essential to electronically preserve these valuable comments. I decided to name this category ‘Voice of Pakistani Media’.


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The Role of International Powers in Resolving the Kashmir Issue

Note from the Author  I joined the Institute of Communication Studies in October 2010 and enjoyed the privilege of attending ‘almost’ all the weekly seminars arranged at the Institute. These seminars fueled critical debates, interactive sessions and thought-provoking discussions over sociopolitical issues. Usually, top media commentators, journalists, analysts and experts were invited as guests. The tradition still carries on. Unfortunately, I didn’t post all the reports on my blog which I used to draft right after the last speaker left the mic. At that time I was serving as the Assistant Editor for the official News Bulletin of the Institute of Communication Studies. I have left the post, but my passion hasn’t died. I shall be sharing (one by one) the views/comments of all the speakers that came in the seminars to discuss national and international issues. In my opinion, it is essential to electronically preserve these valuable comments. I decided to name this category ‘Voice of Pakistani Media’. This is the first post for this important category and there are a lot more to come.

Kashmir: the disputed territory

Prof Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz
Director Institute of Communication Studies
University of the Punjab, New Campus, Lahore

“Instead of resolving the Kashmir issue, which is a bone of contention between the nuclear powers of South Asia, only lip-service has been paid over this issue during the past 63 years”.

Shamshad Ahmad (former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan)

“Inefficient leadership of Pakistan has placed the Kashmir issue in limbo. Domestic and foreign policy of Pakistan needs to be revamped”.

Prof. Dr Mughees uddin Sheikh (former Dean of Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of the Punjab, New Campus). Present Dean of Mass Communication department, Superior University.

“Pakistan will be left barren and battered due to the twin menaces of famine and drought without Kashmir”.

Sajjad Mir
T.V anchor and Director for Current Affairs at News One

“Kashmir issue was never in the priority list of International stalwarts like the United States and Russia”.

Prof Dr. Ijaz Butt
Principal Government College Township
Professor of International Relations and Political Science

“Super powers had always supported Indian stance over the issue because of their vested interests in India. Pakistan was never supported by the US over the Kashmir issue despite being front line non-NATO ally of the US in the so-called ‘war on terror’. Conversely, the US drone attacks targeted its own ally (Pakistan).”


Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Voice of Pakistani Media


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