A critical assessment of female anchors in Pakistani media – by Farhad Jarral

Electronic media in Pakistan has become very vibrant with a label of powerful state pillar since it got freedom during General Musharraf’s regime. However, things are quite different and unique in Pakistan, unique in sense that no media in the world has this much power which our media has. TV anchors take bribes, gifts as residential plots, cars and other expensive items, treat or mistreat political personalities in any way they want to or based on their personal biases. Most importantly, Pakistani media seems to have no codes of conduct to perform their duties ethically and professionally.

Keeping the above perspective in mind many questions come to mind. My focus in this piece is on the hiring criteria of female anchors in Pakistan.

I believe in gender equality, however, that does not mean women or men are appointed in violation of merit and accorded special treatment.

The agenda set by the media tycoons to hire female anchors on TV channels is quite dubious. I have been thinking for last two days about the eligibility criteria and found no female anchor who had relevant experience in the field of media when they were hired as anchorperson. Barring a few exceptions, several female anchors take advantage of their gender by not sticking to professional and ethical standards and are not accountable for their unprofessional conduct.

Such female anchors defame politicians and bureaucrats (very rarely judiciary and military) as if they themselves have a clean past and are the best examples of a Muslim and Pakistani, but the reality says something else. How have these female anchors become super stars overnight?

Therefore, question arises: how are such anchors selected in the first place? Are they personal relatives, family members or do they flatter their bosses? When Najam Sethi, Hamid Mir, Nusrat Javed, Talat Hussain, Kamran Khan, Absar Alam, Iftikhar Ahmed have relevant print media experience, why not the same criteria of selection for female anchors.

I challenge all the readers of this post if they disagree with my point to give me a background experience of media of the following female celebrities cum anchorpersons:

1: Asma Chaudhary: Former Assistant to Hamid Mir but now a leading female anchor who’s getting a package in millions of Rupees. Asma also got a CNG station from former PM Yousuf Raza Gillani and stationary tender for all government institutions.

2: Meher Bukhari: Former blue eyed of Zafar Siddiqui (Owner of Samaa TV) but got fired from Samaa due to her indirect involvement in Governor Taseer’s murder. She has no print media experience but was directly hired as anchorperson.

3: Asma Shirazi: No significant print media experience but started directly from parliament cafeteria. (Previously she used to work for Daily Kainaat; has anyone heard about that newspaper?)

4: Nasim Zehra: Previously a columnist but does being a columnist make somoene eligible for the post of anchorperson? Then why not Mehmal Sarfraz, Marvi Sirmed and many female politicians who write columns for print media can be a female anchorperson? Nasim Zehra is also a blue eyed of military babus. She got scholarship for masters by Fauji Babus with the help of Mushahid Hussain Syed. Now again she’s doing PhD from abroad on a scholarship.

5: Nadia Naqi – Anchor person on Express but has no experience in reporting of print media or investigative journalism. Known for attending parties and having direct access to ministers. A handsome salary package but why?

6: Jasmine Manzoor: The shouting lady – Has no experience in print media or any other media but directly appointed as anchorperson. The point to notice: Jasmine Manzoor is a wife of an ISI General.

7: Sadia Afzal (PTV): Blue eyed of Mr. Yousuf Baig Mirza (MD PTV). Directly appointed as anchorperson and getting a handsome salary package.

8: Ayesha Sana: Getting 100,000 rupees per s how; is there any justification for huge salary package.

Let me highlight another point which is about the crush of some of these female anchors.

Several of them are usually found praising beauties of Imran Khan, Jahangir Khan Tareen and Humayun Akhtar. Some of these anchors are getting 25 lac rupees/month and some have a package of 2 days show that is 4 to 6 lac rupees with poor ratings of shows. How can one justify?

None of the above mentioned anchors are professional but why they are being pampered? How much investigative journalism they’ve done? Do they have adequate professional background or experience? Why there are no code of ethics for media and anchors especially these female anchors? Have the media owners hired these women only to harass their guests and politicians? If that is the case, then this is the worst form of female exploitation which must be stopped.



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