| by Ali Sukhanver
( April 22, 2014, Islamabad, Sri Lanka Guardian) How could we expect peace and prosperity in a society if there is no freedom of expression? Freedom of expression is one of the basic human rights; the world of today is emphasizing the most. If you are not allowed to speak the truth, to criticize the wrong doings of the rulers and to express your fears and apprehensions in national interest, it means you are being deprived of your basic human rights as a citizen. Unfortunately Pakistan is rapidly becoming a country where wise men have started preferring Silence to Utterance. Here you would be sent to the eternal realm of silence if you talk too much of the things which are not acceptable to those who are stronger than you. The brutal targeted killing attempt on a very popular Pakistani TV anchor Mr. Hamid Mir in Karachi also narrates the same story. Mr. Hamid Mir is a journalist who is internationally considered as a symbol of truth, honesty and boldness in the world of journalism. The killing attempt on him is simply an effort of crushing the truthful boldness and this cowardly act really grieved the whole of Pakistani nation. But on the other hand, just after this incident, the statement of his brother Amir Mir also proved painfully hurting for the nation. In his statement he openly condemned rather abused the security forces of Pakistan as well as the ISI and accused them of targeting his brother. His statement was repeatedly telecasted on various international TV channels. Though he was passing through an emotional set-back that time but he must not have used that abusive language against the most dedicated and devoted institutions of Pakistan. He simply shifted all blame onto the DG ISI Gen. Zaheer-ul-Islam without any proof. The ISI and the Army, the Commander-in-Chief of all these institutions and on the whole the Government of Pakistan has all rights to take the matter seriously. Moreover the media channels which helped in spreading the statement of Amir Mir must also be taken to task.
Freedom of expression does not mean violation of all rules and regulations and crossing of all moral limitations. All over the world, every media channel has to observe some legal, moral, ethical and national boundaries. Unfortunately, in the name of freedom of expression, some of our electronic media channels are behaving as if they belong to a ‘No Man’s Land’. It is the result of the ‘undue media liberty’ that incest, the most immoral phenomenon in the world of human relations, unfortunately seems the most popular topic now-a-days in most of the plays presented on the Pakistani television channels. Illicit sexual relations with step-mother, romance with sister-in-law and love-affair with the married women of different families and attempts of enchanting the widow of one’s real brother; today most of our teleplays are revolving around these topics. Imported Turkish dramas and the Indian movies have added a lot of filth to this already stinking situation. The result is nothing but countless rape cases buried in the files of different police stations throughout the country. Some of our entertainment media channels are going against the basic teaching of Islam and no one has the courage to raise voice against this moral atrocity. Is it really the role we, the people of an ideologically Islamic country, expect from our electronic media? Are these the things we must allow in the name of media liberty? Certainly there must be someone to put a check on the things which are continuously disfiguring the serene face of our society.
Golden were the days when the PTV used to be the one and the only electronic media channel in Pakistan. All plays, all programs, the stage shows and even the news-bulletins of the PTV were bound to follow some restrictions, moral as well as ethical; but then there came the regime of Gen (Rtd) Musharaf whom I always call ‘the Father of Media liberty in Pakistan’. Just to make himself more and more popular among the masses and the media, he gave an undue liberty to the electronic media. Those were the days when licenses to various media channels were issued without observing any policy and guiding principles. Starting up of a media channel became as easier as that of opening a general store or a cold drink corner. Musharaf’s was a period when this nation witnessed a mushroom growth of educational institutions on one hand and on the other was the production and growth of the electronic media channels. This ‘media-storm’ ultimately introduced a very strange type of product in the market of viewers; the Anchor. All over the world , particularly in the US and western media, the people anchoring some television program are usually highly educated, very much civilized, courteous, well-read and above all impartial and balanced in approach. They do have their own liking and disliking, their own book of good and bad but they never try to shove their thought into the brains of their viewers and the participants of their programs. But in Pakistan unfortunately, the situation is altogether different. Here usually every TV anchor tries all his best to compel his viewers look at the life through his own eyes. He tries to convince his audience that he has a lot of contacts and sources which always keep him up-to-date and well informed, so the viewers would be at fault if they do not adopt his view-point. Most of the anchors seem working on some foreign agenda by ridiculing the most sacred and sensitive institutions of national importance, mocking at the issues of very grave nature and making fun of our democratically elected President and the Prime-minister. These anchors are not ready to spare even our religious norms and traditions. In their heat and haste of earning more and more, they violate all rules and regulations of gentleness and morality. In short, the TV anchors in Pakistan are performing a role which no one has ever assigned to them and same is the case with some of our media channels.