Today is the third day of censorship being imposed on the BBC in Pakistan BBC news goes on air throughout Pakistan via a series of privately owned FM networks. With the explosion of private TV channels in Pakistan, the standards of journalism have a suffered a great deal. An ideological media fuelled by militant Islamism and Pakistani nationalism is on an ideological crusade in Pakistan whose first victim has been “objective reporting”.
Pluralism and democracy has been completely lacking in the local free media of Pakistan. All the news papers and TV channels have exactly same editorial policy. One gets the feeling he or she is reading same news again and again. Most of it is objectively incorrect. Most of this media has been fiercely loyal to the policies of Pakistan’s ruling oligarchy. It may take sides on different issues which represent the interests of different factions of oligarchy depending on the Right wing and Pakistani Nationalist dominated press’s opinion of whose “patriot” and whose not but when it comes to broad general interest of the oligarchy inform of the ideological boundaries of state, the media is wholly partisan without any significant exception. The mania against India, denial on state involvement in nuclear proliferation and Islamic fascism, denial of existence of anti colonial struggles like those in Balochistan and Pakistani occupied Kashmir [written and Azad Kashmir or Free Kashmir in all Pakistani media] are to quote few examples where all Pakistani media has exactly same opinion to express, the opinion of Pakistani ruling elite and its state institution
Pakistani authorities always had a problem with the BBC. From the day BBC had collaborated with the local FM radios to increase its coverage in Pakistan; it is being opposed by Pakistani authorities in one way or another. There is usual bureaucratic red tape which always comes in handy when Pakistan wants to censor the BBC. This contract is incomplete and this rule has been violated bla bla bla. The real reason is that Pakistani authorities are fearful of objective reporting. Being a Lefti I am no fan of BBC, but unfortunately the standards of journalism have been deteriorated to such an extant in Pakistan that BBC appears to be the most objective news source in Pakistan. That’s a pity but that’s a fact!
The real crime of BBC is not what is officially being cited, i.e. violations of laws and procedures because if “Rule of Law” was such an important issue in Pakistan, it would have checked the local news channels as well. According to the society for Alternative Media in Pakistan, all news channels in Pakistan are in violence of PEMRA law through which they were granted licenses. None of them have deposited amount fixed in law of their annual income in treasury which they were bound to do so. These news channels do not go off air because they are doing state propaganda to a vulgar extant. BBC does that too, but it tries to maintain at least an illusion of objectivity, even that is not acceptable to Pakistan. The crimes of BBC are:
Reporting on Balochistan: The coverage of BBC Urdu service on Balochistan cannot be called pro-people or pro-Bloch by any means, its crime is that its “reports” about Balochistan: Which no one else does in Pakistan. It tells that people are dying, some people are demanding freedom. Its will give opinion of the resistance as well that of government.
Coverage of Divergent views on Judiciary, Army, Nuclear Issues and Taliban: This along with the views of state institutions and other parties.
Like laws apply differently to two chief justices who broke the law and took oaths of loyalty to same military dictator, depending on whom Jamate Islami and the Right supports, Laws apply differently to BBC and Geo in Pakistan. What’s going on Pakistan against BBC is a hideous press censorship. Even more hideous is the role of Pakistani media which cries foul every time it’s touched but is silent on the continuous censorship of Baloch press and the BBC. Same goes to most Pakistani bloggers, the stalwarts of secularism and Jinnah’s vision who also don’t see anything which is on the wrong side of this Post-colonial state. None wrote any thing against continuous harassment, closure and censorship of Baloch press and now of BBC.
We have not learned anything….