I acknowledge that I’ve been rather critical of Pakistan’s nascent media, and have accused it of being more powerful than responsible – in effect exhibiting the same flaw that any powerful institution in Pakistan is all too prone to exhibiting.
Regardless, I still respect those media outlets, media personalities, even instances of media reporting, where some kind of journalistic integrity and information dissemination is underway. After all, everyone has an opinion, but there are certain places where you express your opinion, and other places where you deal with matter of fact, without fear or favor, and without affection or ill-will.
When it comes to online media, I don’t believe that electronic media on television have been able to effectively capture a consumer segment, much less develop some kind of cohesion between their TV viewers and their online visitors – despite repeatedly saying “please do visit us online at…”. That sentence – much like other quips and quotes from TV anchors – receives as much attention and acquiescence from viewers as the phrase “hamaaray saath rahiay gaa” or ‘please stay tuned’. So online media, television media and radio are completely different platforms of information, and there is little to no collaboration between these information vehicles of the modern age.
Having said all that, I count myself as a regular reader of Express Tribune, a new newspaper that provides a refreshing and somewhat innovative perspective on Pakistani news as well as journalism in Pakistan. I read the paper almost daily, and etribune.com is one of my most visited sites. Since a year, I have also been commenting every now and then on their articles. And their posts are some of the most prominent on my Facebook wall.
So yeah, Express Tribune really is as best as the media in Pakistan gets. Other newspapers and online news engines like The News International, and recently, DAWN, have also caught up to the standards set by Express Tribune – which I guess has a lot to do with them being a subsidiary of the International Herald Tribune, a project of the Washington Post and New York Times. Yes, you need all of that to have the basic level of acceptability and credibility as far as I am concerned. Over and above this, I don’t automatically give a clean chit to everything Express Tribune writes on paper or online – no, the fake Wikileaks has nothing to do with it.
Online news media in Pakistan has recently developed an innovative – and necessary – platform for news consumers (or viewers) to engage with the news content in the form of comment posts. Express Tribune also allows users to post comments, but the webmasters really have it in for comments that I post – especially the long ones. One of my especially exhaustive comments was posted as a mangled four-liner letter to the editor. Originally, it was a very long explanation to the content – and some of the comments – made on Raza Rumi’s article regarding General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani’s extension as Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army. In its state online, it makes me appear like a pro-Army spook from Aabpara (not that I would mind that ascription :p) without the real juicy bits of justification and evidence that accompanied those four lines before and after – in the original comment that I believe Express Tribune never published.
I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Raza when I was an undergraduate student at LUMS, and a six-month-odd research associateship with him exposed me not just to issues related to the modern economy and to public policy effectiveness in Pakistan, but also to my national culture, history, tradition, character and ethos. That experience actually taught me bits and pieces of what it meant to be a Pakistani, instead of just wearing an ultranationalist mask on my face that blinded me to the bittersweet reality that is the great nation-state of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Raza Rumi is rendering his services to the critically acclaimed The Friday Times, and is a regular contributor to Express Tribune editorials as well. He recently wrote on the Raymond Davis release issue, and how Pakistan needs to strengthen its economy, undertake major social reform and only then it can think of dictating to the world with augmented bargaining power.
As usual, I had an extensive comment to make, which I did, but which never showed up. This is my comment to that article, which apparently isn’t worth the space on the Express Tribune website (despite other Pakistan-bashing comments from users all over the place):
Actually, the ghairat brigade is just a brigade; it has no ghairat, as *saher* just pointed out above. And *bhutjolokia* is also right – America can afford to throw cash at Pakistan to see us make fools of ourselves. In fact! They can even make our government throw secret funds in order to achieve such an outcome.
What happens after Raymond is evacuated? The left blames the right, the right blames the left, the PPP blames the PML-N, the PML-N blames the PPP, PTI joins in with JI and blames the PPP and PML-N, the media starts trumpeting about ghairat and beghairti while their personal lives and scandalous follies are known to all and sundry. All it took was one guy from America called Raymond, and we are at each other’s throats. BRILLIANT!
We are an internationally berated and ridiculed qoum. We never had any money, but I remember some time ago, we had some ghairat and self-respect.
Now, we have nothing anymore; and its not because of Raymond, no sir! He just proved to us and to the world that we have no ghairat, and our beghairti is a direct result of our collective social consciousness.
We will hide our women – our wives and sisters and daughters – inside the chaadar and chaar diwari, while we ogle at any woman whose dupatta faulters a little bit (thank GOD nobody wears skirts in this country). Why? Because we are Pakistanis, and Pakistan is like this. When we are in need, nobody comes to help us – not friends, not family – but when someone else is in trouble, we will just walk over to watch – not contribute positively, not help anyone out, just loiter around and waste everyone’s time. Why? Because we are Pakistanis, and Pakistan is like this. We **hate** over-paying but we hate it even more if we can’t make a few extra rupees by underhanded means, or by manipulating information assymetry, or just by taking advantage of another fellow Pakistani, who is not our beloved countryman but just another fool. Why? Because we are Pakistanis, and Pakistan is like this. We pass judgments that only Allah can pass, and we kill in the name of a religion that literally means peace and surrender. Yet we have surrendered the one true faith to self-proclaimed Islam ke mamoo’s. Why? Because we are Pakistanis, and Pakistan is like this. We will marginalize, disenchant, even kill anyone who is different from us. Sunnis will kill Shias, Shias will kill Sunnis, Wahabbis will kill both, Baloch will kill Punjabis, Punjabis will marginalize Sindhis, Sindhis will battle with Muhajirs, Muhajirs will kill Pakhtuns, Pakhtuns will kill everyone who transgresses on their pride, and the cycle goes on till nobody is left – except the State. And we still have the audacity to say “Kashmir banay ga Pakistan” while they look on from across the LoC with smirks and snickers. Hell, even people in Azad Kashmir say the Indians gave more in earthquake relief and rehabilitation that their Muslim Pakistani brothers gave to affectees in AJK. Why? Because we are Pakistanis, and Pakistan is like this.
In 1947, Pakistan was a nation in search of a country. Today, Pakistan is a country in search of a nation that will own up to it. Ham sab ko Pakistan mubarik ho. Pakistan Zindabad!
As you can see, the text above is still in Express Tribune comment format. Why? Once bitten, twice shy.
My words aren’t useless and my time isn’t free.
Remember, Express Tribune; power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. You have a responsibility to your viewers and your audience, and you can NOT abuse that even if you don’t like Shireen Mazari’s US-bashing articles. If you cannot be honest and forthright with your reporting and with your content, despite your professionalism and market leadership it reflects how as an institution and maybe even as an organism you have some kind of vested agenda to follow – thought it may not be as clear or as apparent.
Everybody has an agenda, and it’s not always wrong to have one.
But please remember that if you get 9 new visitors a day instead of the 10 you got last year, that probably means you’re losing credibility and viewership that you cultivated with much difficulty. How long before you lose the other nine…?
P.S. Since I must always have my way :p I wrote another comment to the article. I do hope it gets published; in case it doesn’t, here it is:
The author is right. We need to carry a big stick before we speak at all.
And please, enough with the Pakistan-bashing and liberal-bashing. Constructive criticism from all spectrums of thought and ideology is always become, but nasty comments always make me wonder what the ET comment monitors are up to :p
FYI this is an angry outburst because my last (rather extensive) comment to this post was not published.