Malcolm X once said,
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
Our Pakistani media, though still considered in the stage of infancy, has given many examples in this regard in the past few years after the boom of privately owned media houses in Pakistan. In this regard, where PEMRA was to be trusted as a watchdog on the Pakistani media, it has been acting like a scared little kitten hiding from the rich and powerful among the media and bureaucracy, while they do what they want without the fear of any repercussions. Recent examples of such bare display of absolute disregard to authority of PEMRA has been the series of unethical and irresponsible actions by GEO Network/ Jang Group under its owner Mir Shakil ur Rahman and his son, Mir Ibrahim.
The lately surfaced allegations that came to the limelight post-Mubasher Lucman’s exposition of GEO’s heinous acts varying from corruption and tax evasion to promotion of anti-military sentiments and working along with foreign intelligence agencies. Despite thousands of complaints lodged against GEO network in PEMRA as well as Supreme Court, one has yet to see, let alone any action, even any consideration on their part. Such is the level of recklessness shown by these lawmaking bodies over these complaints that lead to social media eruption of public outrage with trends like #PEMRAGeoBhaiBhai and #BanGeo.
Jang/Geo groups corrupt practices includes influencing and blatantly blackmailing the State Bank Governor, Chairman – SECP, Chairman – NAB and countless other government officials, proven tax and loan defaults of billions of rupees and secretly receiving millions of Pounds from UK government. Adding to the list of brazen acts of media ethics violation Geo recently telecasted a “press conference” by Emad Khalid, former aide of Zaid Hamid, who claimed to have knowledge of Zaid’s plans to attack and assassinate important Pakistani personalities from powerful personnel like Army Chief Ashfaq Kiyani and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry to Journalists like Hamid Mir and Activists like Asima Jehangir. The claims were shocking, but not as shocking as the rebuttal to these claims on Mubasher Lucman’s show exposing the truth of the staged press conference at the aim of Geo/Jang Team. Unlike Emad’s Press conference, it was not just tall claims but backed by evidence in the form of recorded telephonic conversations between Emad Khalid and GEO TV officials – referring them by name as well as showing how each step was planned and executed all through staging of the press conference. Emad Khalid has been out of sight since the tapes of his conversation were leaked and GEO has restrained from airing any further news after awarding the 45 minute of precious airtime to the “exclusive” press conference and special breaking news taking calls from Hamid Mir and Maulana Tahir Ashrafi. Zaid Hamid, who is already involved in litigation against Geo and Jang, has raised his concern to the court regarding this blatant personal attack but has failed to stir up any reaction as of yet.
The media grilled Lucman not so long ago when he aired planted questions during an interview with Malik Riaz. Looking at the circumstances of the situation, it was well under the code of journalistic ethics to accommodate some requests of the guest if there are some areas to be touched and those were just questions.
Now Mir Shakil and his gang not only planted the questions but also the answers to the Emad Khalid press conference, which has been proven beyond a shadow of doubt; still the Government, PEMRA and other media groups remained silent to this blatant attempt of blackmailing. This shows that we as a nation have died and how little we care about being manipulated and lied to.
The question remains that what are the factors that has bound the hands of the Government, State Bank, FBR, PEMRA and even Supreme Court to ask any questions from GEO Network and Jang Group over these proven facts. Has media become the mafia in the form of modern-day Godfathers Mir Shakil ur Rahman and Mir Ibrahim? Will media be answerable to their actions to anyone or will it keep on trampling like an uncontrolled bull in the china house?