M Tarhir Iqbal
Ever since the emergence of Bhariagate episode, serious questions and aspersions have been cast about the character and role of media men—writers, reporters, analysts, anchors and the mighty owners of media houses. This dubious role of media became the talk of the town when two leading anchors were caught manipulating a fictitious talk show of a business icon and owner of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz. Resultantly, one of the anchors was dispensed with forthwith, but has now secured a comfortable niche in another leading channel. This tampered interview was a violent throw into the otherwise tranquil water of media. This ignited a debate on ever widest canvas about the role of some media men, and also gave the common man an enlightening peep into how the media owners and the big wigs in politics can dart through a political talk show to control the strings of a programme, and thereby put their words into the mouth of their endeared anchors.
Huge blame-game ensued about the doings of leading tv anchors and media owners who had allegedly got pots of moolahs from the Bahria Town owner. Media now has become the most potent force of our vibrant society. It has the potentiality to veer the direction of people’s thoughts in a positive or negative way. Just ten years ago, 8pm used to be the time to watch ptv dramas, but now the people are keenly tilted for the pungent political talk shows notwithstanding the fact that ptv drama still stands there. People even quote from the pack of words by pre-eminent tv anchors who seemingly have occupied the nerve of society. One can surmise the power and influence of these anchors from the fact that Sheikh Rasheed still blames a tv anchor the cause of his route in the by-polls.So, the task and work of these media men command seriousness because they are, in a way, constructing the facade of a nation. Each and every word to be spoken on air must be measured, carefully chosen and well-calculated. We have to admit that some tv anchors and media men have not played meritorious role in this regard. Just recently, I was completely aghast by the loosely flung analysis of a tv anchor who tried to sketch a comparison between the killing of police trainees of KPK prison department in Lahore with that of the Punjabis in other provinces. He maintained, as if logically, that earlier corpses of the Punjabis used to come from other provinces, and now the Punjabis have also started reciprocating. But here in Pakistan, so called honesty is perhaps more revered in media. In the aftermath of 26/11 tragedy in India, a media group in Pakistan put all its energies in proving that Ajmal Kasab is from Pakistan despite the fact that Interior ministry was negating any such link. I daresay it was a moment of shame when the state of Pakistan, later, confessed that the Kasab hailed from Pakistan; but on the other side, the said channel was blowing the trumpet of victory for the veracity of its news already exposed on its channel.
Media in Pakistan has become so potent and telling that it can raze down the strongest wall of a business or the character of a citizen of the land. The hard-earned honours are dashed to the ground by mere scratch or utterance of some seemingly persuasive words. Hamid Mir and Absar Aslam’s role in this perspective is laudable as they have lately prayed Supreme Court to form ‘media accountability committee’ which will also design code of conduct. If this happens, some black sheep in our lines would be spotted out, and some others would also squirm back from exposing too scathing argumentative science of reasoning.