Intolerant politicians: Our azad media’s latest theme – by Ahmed Iqbalabadi

If one looks at the themes that have been pushed by our azad media over the last three and half years, one can see that:

  • Politicians are corrupt (daily news, Zardari bashing, Hajj scandal, land scams, container scandals)
  • Politicians are dishonest (fake degrees even though the law under which the degree was required, doesn’t exist)
  • Politicians fight always amongst themselves
  • Pakistan always has economic trouble when there is a democratic government while Military rules generally see stability
  • Military is always there to support the people of Pakistan (work during floods) while Politicians are there for ayyashi and to suck the blood of people
  • Politicians and political governments do not understand the economic requirements and the huge sizes of government(s) indicate their lack of seriousness
  • And off course, our Azad Judiciary is the savior or Messiah of Pakistan

With all these themes, comes the subliminal message: Go democracy go. Pakistan doesn’t need democracy. As I said, it is a theme. It is a subliminal message. It doesn’t have to said openly, yet it sensitizes the public negatively.

A recent theme that I have noted is that where political parties are boycotting certain media outlets or leaving programs for the way the programs are conducted by the anchors, the politicians are being deliberately termed as “intolerant” or “bey-tahhammul”. Off course, impatience or intolerance has become a national trait. What better way to term the act of Mumtaz Qadri! Wasnt that intolerance and then the hero’s welcome provided by lawyers and “objective” analysis done by the media outlets.

Firstly, one needs to analyze why politicians are boycotting programs. For a one hour slot programs, the range of air time available is between 35-40 minutes. This takes into consideration top of the hour news, endless commercial breaks and then time checks and most important “breaking news”. In essence, out of 60 minutes, your capacity to discuss something ranges between 58% and 66%. On top of that, you have 3-4 guests in a program and off course, the anchor himself is in love with himself. He has to speak around 7-10 minutes of the total time. How much constructive talk can be done in these programs is anyone’s guess.

Making Rs. 1.6 million a month?

Secondly, and most importantly, the guests who come on these channels, are not paid for their participation. These anchors are making between Rs. 500,000 and Rs. 1.6 million per month in salaries. They thrive on the spicyness of their program that in a way depends on the arguments and explosive nature of the participants. The participants argue endlessly and then when they react due to insinuating remarks or improper conduct of the anchor, they get a bad name. They are not paid for a program. Had they been paid for their participation, then Ahsan Iqbal, Fauzia Wahab, Haider Abbas Rizvi, Faisal Abdi, Kamil Ali Agha, Kashmala Tariq etc would have been bigger tax payers than they are now.

A few days back, noted columnist, Kamran Shafi wrote

“OR is there? Our media outlets certainly think so, for they do not pay the people they invite to talk shows, sometimes at the oddest hours. The question to ask, however, is why the invitees go without getting some remuneration for their trouble. And trouble it is.

Consider: if the host or presenter or anchor can command a salary of, in certain cases as I am informed, Rs4m a month(!) for 16 shows of 45 minutes each i.e. Rs250,000 a pop, why should the three or four guests upon whom the show revolves not get, say, the paltry sum of Rs20,000 each for their appearance? Remember that guests have to be as well-versed in the subject as the host or presenter or anchor to make any sense. Times Now

Sixteen years ago, BBC used to pay guests £60 for every appearance — I know because I have been paid that amount myself every time I was on air. So why not our own channels which are raking it in considering the proliferation of shows; the slick productions that we see and the plethora of expensive advertisements. Let me here say that at least one Indian channel, , is worse. They promise, repeatedly, and then do not pay!”

Intolerant media or intolerant politicians?

This raises a pertinent point: if our azad media is willing to pass judgments on our politicians and incite them to a level which eventually leads to cold blooded murder like the case of Salmaan Taseer (remember the Meher Bokhari program) or twisting the statement to make allegations of blasphemy as in the case of Ansar Abbasi vs Fauzia Wahab, then the politicians also have the right to walk out on programs if due respect, time and adherence to topic is not taking place.

This new theme has been started by Absar Alam on Aaj TV. He did a program called Aaj Kee Khabar on January 20, 2011 on the topic of intolerance of politicians and their tendency to leave a program.

Our humble suggestion at LUBP is that the media urgently creates a code of conduct and then hold themselves accountable against it.

Some of the points that need to be included should be:

  • Limiting number of guests
  • guests should know well in advance who the other guests would be
  • what exactly the topic is going to be and what are the sub-topics that can be discussed allowing the participants to be well prepared. The topic of “Mojooda Siyasi Haalaat” has to be changed.
  • People having a certain stature need to be accorded due respect. It cant be possible that the Chief Justice be referred as “Chief Sahab” whereas the Head of State is termed as “Badqismati say Pakistan kay Sadar” or Punjab’s constitutional head as “Punjab kay ahmaq governor”. Respect has to be across the board and cannot be selective.

I think these are decent starting points. We need to strongly counter this new theme which is yet another ploy to discredit politicians with a view that the system needs to be packed up.



Latest Comments
  1. Raza
  2. Asad Sayeed
    • Ahmed Iqbalabadi
  3. Faisal Manzoor
  4. Joshua Goodie