Pakistan in process of change, says Jabbar

KARACHI: Javed Jabbar, former federal minister for Information, said on Saturday that Pakistan is in the process of change, hence, independent thinking is must for progress.

Speaking as a the chief guest at the seminar organized by Department of Media Studies of Sind Madressatul Islam University SMIU on “Media Ethics: Challenges and Issues,” at its auditorium on Saturday, he said there is a need of public service broadcast that should free from the government influence and that should also check the entire media. Besides, there is also a need of change in the media as well as foreign policy.

Jabbar said the relations between Pakistan and India must be better, but India is not acting reciprocal, as the dramas and films of Pakistan are not shown in India as these are shown in Pakistan.

He said the media is generally considered as a fourth pillar of the estate, but it shouldn’t be the first pillar of the state. If it replaces the role of judiciary, than it should be transparent and honest.

He said some problems have also been created by the cross media ownership in our society as if a person has a channel along with a newspaper, then such paper and channel wouldn’t be independent.

Similarly, almost every citizen knows about the salary and other privileges of judges, but no one knows about the income of owners of channels and newspapers. Therefore, there should be shares of other people in the news media, by that way, it would be public property and will work independently and honestly.

Apart from it, people should play their constructively role as a watch dog also. He said the subjectivity, partisan, and selectivity are in nature of media, but the reality is large than media. Thus, people shouldn’t take it so serious. He said from July 5th 1977 to 17th August 1988 no one had listened the name of “Benazir Bhutto” on the government controlled Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan. Only General Mohammad Ziaul Haq was appearing on this media daily. But after general elections of 1988, the PTV and Radio Pakistan started to telecast the name of Benazir Bhutto. But these all restrictions couldn’t make any difference in the opinion making of people, regarding Benazir Bhutto.“At that time people only used to listen BBC and then voted for Benazir Bhutto.

Therefore, the interpersonal communication is most powerful than any media source,” Mr. Javed Jabbar said. No doubt media has a tremendous impact on the society, but I again say that a single word is more powerful than one thousand pictures. He said although it is a fact that our culture is passing through a continuous change, but there is no any serious threat to core values of our religion and culture from the foreign media. Therefore, we shouldn’t be worry about it. It is also a fact that the culture can’t be preserved in a refrigerator, but we couldn’t stop the process of change.
Talking about the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority PEMRA Javed Jabbar said he had penned down the draft of PEMRA in 199697 and its real concept was that it would be independent authority, but later it was given under the control of the government.

“The PEMRA laws were implemented in the era of General Pervaiz Musharraf with amendments, but after my resignation from the federal cabinet its laws were changed and each cable operator was allowed to run five channels, for which he only pays to the PEMRA, not to the channels,” Javed Jabbar said and added that this is why; the private channels solely depend on the advertisements and have become commercial channels.

He said that there are about 3100 cable operators in the country, who telecast 15000 channels in addition to 100 private channels through their cables, but these cables operator were not allowed to run such additional five channels in the first PEMRA document. Interestingly, no cable operator in India is allowed to run additional five channels through his cable. Javed Jabbar also praised the role of Sind Madressatul Islam University in imparting modern education by giving priority to girl’s education. He also expressed his pleasure over elevation of Sind Madressah to the university level and lauded services of Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh in this respect.

Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh, Vice Chancellor VC in his address said that media ethics of any society would be same as those of the society. Pakistan, as a nation inherited great values regarding media ethics and freedom. Quaid –e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is credited to put the cardinal principle governing media while addressing journalists on 13th March 1947. He said “I expect you journalists to be completely fearless. If I go wrong or for that matter, the Muslim League goes wrong in any direction of its policy or programme, I want you to criticize it honestly as its friend, in fact, as on whose heart is beating with the Muslim Nation.”

Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh further said that Ms Fatima Jinnah also attributed similar views of Quaid-e-Azam to the freedom of media when she wrote in1956 that, “As Quaid-e-Azam once said while talking to the representatives of the press that express your views honestly, fearlessly and independently and do not hesitate to criticize anybody if he is going wrong even if it is your Quaid –e Azam.”

Dr Shaikh was of the view that at the time of independent in 1947, Pakistan inherited about a dozen laws relating to the functioning of the media, as a legacy from its colonial past. The newly born country also inherited the information bureaucracy trained and nurtured by the colonial rulers.

Veteran journalist Zamir Niazi gives credit to Quaid –e-Azam that he as long as he was at the helm of affairs of Pakistan as its Governor General, he did not allow any repressive legislation regarding the media to be passed and media continued to operate freely.

He said however about a month after his death, a piece of authoritarian legislation that he had resisted to sign, was promulgated in October 1948 under the title of Public Safety Ordinance. Dr. Mohammad Ali Shaikh also announces cash prize of Rs1000 for each student who participated in the seminar.
Dr Fouzia Naeem Khan, Dean of Media Studies, and students Nazish Islam, Ghulam Murtaza Pitafi, Varda, Marvi Baloch, Rabia Baloch, Hussnain Raza, Khair Mohammad, Gul Afroz, Ans, Quratul Ain Azeem and others also spoke on the occasion.

Javed Jabbar gave away cash prizes to the SMIU students, who participated in the Eid Miladun Nabi PBUH programme, on behalf of SMIU.