By Agha Haider Raza
TV anchors must refrain from pretending as Chief Justice. Picture / Pakistan Media Watch
It has of late become frustrating to read the newspapers in Pakistan. If the once a week suicide bombings are not bad enough, there is a constant Zardari bashing in the news. I understand the resentment towards him, and to some extent even comprehend why so many individuals constantly write against President Zardari.
However, the question that I have is what good comes out of it? If you can tell me that by having Zardari removed, we will see peace in Pakistan, the bombings will cease, inflation will come down, the poor will be looked after and all other social problems will be quelled, than I will jump on the anti-Zardari bandwagon. But until then, zip it!
Let me make it clear, I have no love lost for President Zardari. But the amount of negative-conspiracy ridden stories that have been coming out in the media are just ridiculous. Most journalists and anchormen (and women) seem to have taken the well-deserved and hard-earned freedom of the media and use it as a platform to blast Zardari’s presidency. This constitutes another misuse of power, equating such journalists with the same corrupt leaders they are trying to bring down. Such journalists need to divert the public’s attention towards factors that would increase the peace, security and stability in Pakistan. Frankly speaking, I don’t believe removing the President is the answer to our problems.
The recent “independent“ judiciary seemed to be our messiah, but now it just seems to be a political tool being used by some high ups to fulfill their agenda. We love talking about how all the alleged corrupt politicians should be removed from office and assumed the rescinding of the NRO would pour billions of rupees back into Pakistan’s treasury. In an ideal world, that would be the best possible solution. But it is time to bounce back into reality. 2009 has been a tumultuous period for Pakistan and with the year coming to end, we need a lot more than prayers to carry us into a prosperous 2010.
People in Pakistan enjoy claiming that President Zardari relishes dirty politics, but have the opposition parties played a positive role? Yes, Nawaz Sharif does come out after every suicide bombing and expresses his condemnation and condolences (do not forget his eternal cry of trying ex-President General Musharraf for treason!). Is it not dirty of the opposing parties to sit on the sidelines and play a wait and see game, while Pakistan endures one of the most turbulent periods in its history? Now is a time to put away our ego and pride, we have lost too many Pakistanis over ideologies and politics.
The bombings need to come to an end. Every time one occurs, messages of grief and sadness erupt from all corners of Pakistan, and then nothing seems to be done until the next round of bombings take place, where the messages pop up again. Concocting stories and trying to take President Zardari out of office now seem to be more of a personal gain for many journalists. If Zardari has done wrong, then impeach him or refer the matter to the Supreme Court.
Why is it that every move of President Zardari is scrutinized, but our military has not got the same level of scrutiny and media attention? Even though the Pakistani Army is at war with militants in the tribal region and northern areas not much is reported on that front less small paragraph hidden between the lines. The opposition seems to have been given a get out of jail card on behalf of the media. Why? The Government of Punjab tends to give the impression that they represent more of the federation than Prime Minister Gilani’s cabinet and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s current tenure has been more about the politics than the policy. More attention is given to the never-ending story of the Sindh Card than the plight of the millions of Pakistanis trapped in the ongoing military operations.
The current political scenario in Pakistan seems to be more of a Royal Rumble, with the winner being the last man standing. With bombings and death occurring at a rate we have never witnessed before, now is surely not the time to be wrestling with each other.
We all have a duty to hold our elected government accountable, but not in the manner in which the current crop of journalists have undertaken. Adding more misery to our plight is not the way to go about this duty. Our media should harness their skills in a manner, which brings about a revolution for a greater tomorrow; 2010 is our year! The media need to focus on the poor policeman, who endures the anger of thousands of motorists everyday, the illiterate child who wants to go to school and on the lack of acknowledgement for the Pakistani middle-class.
Empowering citizens is usually the primary agenda of an elected government. For whatever reasons, our past and present governments have not been able to uplift the citizens of Pakistan. With two such strong institutions (the judiciary and media) gaining some autonomy and independence, we should not allow individuals to hinder the momentum by focusing on the smaller picture.
Over the past 62 years, we have always focused on the short-term gains while setting aside the long-term goals. The media needs to tighten their belt and start concentrating on how to reduce the number of deaths in Pakistan and look for ways to cleanse the filthy ideology that leads people to become suicide bombers. This agenda should not rest solely on the shoulders of the media, but on the three arms of state – judiciary, legislature and executive – along with the rest of the population of Pakistan. We all have a very crucial role to play as well in order to carry forward our bleeding country. By marginalizing the President of Pakistan, the media is doing no one a favor; it honestly is time to focus on the long-term goals. 2010 here we come!