Saturday, January 21, 2006

Free Media in Pakistan : A Distant Dream

Of late, I came across a news in BBC on human rights report of South Asia. The US-based Human Rights Watch, has published a report on human rights abuses in South Asia. The picture drawn is more or less gloomy, but reportedly there are some ray of hopes for India. The report slammed all South Asian nations for being non-commital to peoples' rights.

A day later, I came across a report on HRW publication in a Pakistani newspaper. It was a real surprise to me. The entire edition of the newspaper did not talk about Pakistani record mentioned in HRW reports, but it covered the Indian fault lines under the heading "Indian human rights record faulted by HRW". The news did not only distorted the truth, but also presented the news in an exactly opposite note of what it should have been. Moreover, the main concern for a nation, its' own human rights record, published at the same time under the same report, has not been mentioned at all.

While it was known to me that The Daily Times is one of the progressive newspapers, the condition of the overall news Industry can be well-estimated from this little incident. The Army ruler is promoting Nationalism (or Fascism) through his censored newspapers. Unfortunately, the best way to promote Nationalism, is again to rebuke India. Although, there are claims from my Pakistani friends in orkut, that Pakistani media is 'free' under the current regime, it is hard to digest after this shocking proof of anti-India report. The same attitude was reflected late last year, when Pakistan banned broadcast of BBC Urdu news service, as it was severely critical on Army for the delay in relief operations in earth-quake devastated areas.

Why Pakistani Military rulers need the onslaught on India? The intention is clear from this report - to hide their own poor performance. And the unelected leader stays in power, till the people has a feeling of better days with him. So, freedom of media - is still a distant dream in Pakistan.

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