Journalists burning the resolution during a protest at Punjab Assembly. — Online photo (Source: Dawn)
A few months ago, veteran writer and journalist Hamid Akthar wrote an excellent article in The Express highlighting the unholy alliance of the Three Jeem (three Js) i.e., journalists, judges and jurnails (generals) against the people and politicians of Pakistan.
The LUBP (and other media watcher blogs, such as Pakistan Media Watch) have been consistently highlighting the negative role of certain influential elements in Pakistani media, in particular in the Jang Group (Jang/The News/Geo TV) but also in other media groups, who seem to have double standards in their criticism and evaluation of politicians vis a vis their favourable treatment and flattery of judiciary, bureaucrats and Pakistan army.
Scores of articles have been written and posted on the LUBP on this topic which can be, for example, seen by exploring the Yellow Journalism and Disinformation Cell tags on this blog.
In view of the above, is it fair to expect that while politicians and parliamentarians are being evaluated on highest standards of conduct, media per se (and the institutions it it supporting, i.e. corrupt judges and dictatorial generals) will escape all sorts of criticism and accountability?
Is it fair that while politicians and elected assemblies are being ridiculed day in and day out on various TV channels (and in newspapers), the Punjab Assembly is not entitled to pass a resolution which accuses the media of indulging in “blackmail” and “working for vested interest and undermining democracy”.
Given that Pakistan army and its various spy agencies (ISI, MI etc) are historically known for having a significant number of journalists and news reporters on their payroll or at the very least in their ‘media assets’ list, and also in view of the fact that certain (sham) journalists are hell bent on promoting and protecting Taliban’s interests while at the same time sparing no opportunity to spit venom against politicians and democracy, I can totally and utterly understand the rationale behind the Punjab Assembly’s resolution against yellow journalists.
Lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly on Friday (8 July 2010) passed a resolution against the deplorable and pernicious propagandist campaigns carried out by media representatives against democratic institutions. The resolution, moved by the PML-N deputy Sanaullah Khan Mastikhel, was unanimously passed. Soon after, Khan announced the resolution had been passed unanimously and PPP, PML-Q and PML-N lawmakers delivered speeches supporting the resolution. The Punjab Assembly has also demanded the government set up a committee comprising lawmakers and journalists who can present recommendations regarding the conduct of the media. (Source)
I am perturbed to see a typical blackmailing and threatening posture adopted by the top guns in Pakistani media towards that resolution. I am also concerned (and entertained) to note that instead of focusing on the text of the resolution (which does not mention any thing about fake degrees etc), yellow journalists in media are once again showing their true colours by misrepresenting this resolution on various TV channels and newspapers.
Here is the full text of the Punjab Assembly resolution taken from Express Tribune (another version of English translation available at ARY TV)
“This session of the Punjab Assembly has reservations regarding the irresponsible propaganda being conducted against democratic institutions, political leaders and public representatives by some sections of the media and believes this propaganda can have a negative impact on the future of democracy and the supremacy of law in Pakistan.
“All members of this house unanimously condemn this unnecessary propaganda campaign against democratic institutions and public representatives and demand that responsible sections of the media avoid presenting baseless, humiliating and irresponsible programmes against democratic institutions and political leaders in the larger interests of the nation and the country.
“This house honestly believes that presenting footage of respectable women parliamentarians overlaid with vulgar Indian songs by some television channels is irresponsible, immoral and in conflict with eastern values and, as such, is highly condemnable. This house demands that these TV channels be careful in showing such programmes about these honorable women representatives of the people.
“This house acknowledges and salutes those journalists who engage in responsible and unbiased journalism. However, this house demands that responsible, independent journalists should come forward to discourage the trend of irresponsible reporting and character assassination of political and apolitical personalities for vested interests.
“This session of the Punjab Assembly members has reservations regarding the humiliating elements found in media discussions regarding Pakistani political personages. The house has reservations regarding the discriminatory attitude adopted by the media on the basis of regional and ethnic grounds.
“This session of the Punjab Assembly also demands the government constitute a committee comprising assembly members and media representatives, which should take note of this situation and present doable recommendations.”
Related article: Code of conduct for Pakistani media. Don’t glorify terrorism – by Abdul Nishapuri