A guidebook on media-related issues -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

A guidebook on media-related issues

A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan takes a very exhaustive, comprehensive and critical look at the state of media in Pakistan, in all its manifestations, and the laws (or the lack of them) that regulate it.

The book is expansive, broad-based and detailed, covering a spectrum of media and media laws with a very profound understanding of their social and political ramifications. It is well-researched and deals with the subject in a very professional and logical manner. The narrative is direct, fluent and easy to follow and grasp. It is very well presented.

The book is very contemporary and relevant to the current political and social milieus of Pakistan. It explores in depth and with great dexterity the various facets of our media. It covers it in all its manifestations – print, electronic, informational and social – and deals with them and the laws/moral-ethical values that govern them very critically. In particular, it seeks to highlight its new found freedom and stature, its newly acquired powers and the need for it to use them professionally, fairly and for genuine public good.

It also seeks to establish the imperative that the laws need to keep pace with the new found realities. It debates the multifarious social and political responsibilities that have thus fallen upon the media and the need to institute either self or imposed regulatory mechanisms for it. In particular the discussion on the editorial policy (or the lack of it) is fascinating. Concurrently, it takes a critical look at the laws that govern the media and explores the need for further improvements and better enforcement. It comes across as a spirited discussion, an absorbing debate with a large number of relevant case studies, references and quotes supporting each of the author’s contentions.

The book deals with extremely sensitive issues that are most contemporary and relevant in present day Pakistan. These include Freedoms of Expression and Speech and their various nuances, Defamation and its implications, Cyber Law and its relevance and dire need for today and tomorrow, Psychological Warfare and Propaganda and its subtle employment nowadays, Electronic and Social Medias and their (ab)use and impact on society.

Each and every one of these subjects is extremely pertinent to Pakistan today and has been dealt with professional flair and competence. Pakistan is going through an evolution of sorts with a large number of centrifugal forces, most of all terrorism, trying to rip it apart.

It puts a lot of responsibility on the media. It could literally make or break the country. The media has acquired enormous clout and freedom in the past few years and has grown exponentially. Unfortunately its sense of responsibility has not kept pace with its power. It has in fact become captive to personal preferences, monopolies of certain media houses and susceptible to foreign inducements and pressures. Domestic political agendas generate their own peculiar dynamics as well. It is also struggling to evolve into a formidable, responsible, trustworthy and reliable entity. However, it suffers from manifold weaknesses – primarily a lack of professionally trained, experienced and qualified manpower, a plethora of business minded media moguls, and indifferent and insufficient regulation – self or imposed. It debates these issues in great depth and brings out these dichotomies and contradictions with great clarity and forthrightness. The Comparative Analysis stimulates further inquiry into these facets of the media and media laws.

One would have also liked to see issues like Information Warfare (in the context of the GWOT and the exploitation of media and media houses/persons by the terrorists) and its legal implications included. A debate on National Interests vis-a-vis the freedoms of speech and expression could have made for a fascinating chapter as it is a critical issue in today’s strategic environments. Similarly, the moral and ethical implications of embedded journalists in events like the Iraq War and the Afghan Campaign and the need to regulate such “duties” could have enriched the debate further. The scourge of plagiarism in journalism could have been dealt in more detail. However, the book deserves a sequel, to close the loop as they say, and one is sure such and similar subjects/issues will find their respective places there.

A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media laws in Pakistan is a very notable and significant addition to our literature on media-related legal, moral and ethical issues. Not only does it make compulsory reading for students of law but also for teachers of law, lawyers, researchers, Government functionaries, politicians, journalists, editorial staff and most importantly for the media moguls themselves!

The Nation