A very good and encouraging news indeed that minister of minorities Kamran Michael has been reinstated as the Finance Minister in the Punjab Cabinet and, now, he will address the budget speech in the Punjab Assembly house on Friday, June 10.
Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s earlier decision to appoint Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman as the Finance Minister to present the budget was widely criticized on internet based media, discussion forums and blogs, as being insensitive to the minorities.
Last week, several provincial legislators of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) objected to Punjab cabinet member Kamran Michael presenting the budget for the reason that he is a Christian.
PML-N’s party members are reported to have objected to a Christian being given such a prominent position as that of delivering the annual budget speech and fear losing votes amongst some of their conservative, right-wing vote bank. The PML-N is already afraid of losing ground in its heartland of Punjab to other parties that have been making inroads in the province in recent months.
But the major media mostly ignored this new form of discrimination towards minorities in Punjab and not highlighted and debated this issue in their talk shows as well as discussed in their Op-Ed. Mainstream media owned and run by Muslims proprietors either gave no coverage at all or so limited as not to be visible to readers and viewer to the important attestation and confirmation that exposed the level of religious discrimination.
It’s a reasonable question to ask, why is Pakistan mainstream particularly electronic media and it’s talk shows ignoring the religious minorities and their concerns & issues?
One among various complaints the minorities have in Pakistan is that the Pakistani media has ignored them throughout the past 63 years. The majority community owns most of the national press and the state controls the electronic media, both behave like step mother.
The newspapers often ignore religious and ethnic minorities and marginalized communities like haris (landless peasants), kiln workers, children, women as well as rural areas. As far as the electronic media is concerned, the doors of electronic media are closed for the minorities. The attitude of Pakistani media towards the poets, writers, journalists and artists from the minority communities has been deplorable. Journalists, writers and intellectuals cherishing the minority views are not given any opportunity to propagate their views.
If one glances the Newspapers Op-Ed or watches the talk shows at the private corporate media they appear to be full of religious prejudice and hatred. The majoritarian view dominates in them.
Minorities have been questioning their ‘Equality’ as citizens of Pakistan, their constitutional rights laid by the founder of Pakistan; Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The tragedy with the minorities in Pakistan has been that they are always viewed with an eye of skepticism. In every field they are treated with extreme indifference and apathy. The plight and problems of the minorities have never been included in the national political debate. And even so called independent media ignore religious discrimination, bigotry, hatred and injustice towards Them.
News media and talk shows also missed the disturbing news report, where a special Anti-Terrorism court in Faisalabad released on bail all 70 suspects arrested responsible for the brutal attack in Gojra citing the reason as absence of five witnesses who are not in the country, who may have fled due to threats of extremists, which clearly reflects the security provided by law enforcement agencies to witnesses.
What we find unsubstantial & untenable is the fact that mainstream media and talk shows waste no time crying “discrimination” when religious Islamic sacred values and traditions were challenged & attacked in other countries, for exemple in case of France’s burqa ban and Switzerland’s ban on building minarets, without wasting a second more, Pakistani media and howling and yelling anchors immediately picked up the story and jumped to condemn the ban, but could not condemn demand to ban holly Bible in Pakistan,by describing it as a “pornographic” and “blasphemous book , so in this way media ignored, blasphemous remarks and hate speech against Christianity, and even did not condemn the anti minority attitude of the religious extremists.
This shows media doesn’t care about monorities, their issues, problems, and concerns related to the religious beliefs, it also reflects either proprietors & anchors only care about their profits & ratings or only support majoritarian point of view.
Surely, such sort of the selective coverage by the media is something which makes this country more undemocratic, illiberal, inhuman and to some extent uncivilized.