Electronic media have become a jury’
Noted columnist Zahid Hussain says the wave of bigotry that has overtaken our society, especially over the last decade, would consume it like a giant conflagration
Today, anchorpersons advocate killing. The TV has become a jury. Media has become the epicentre of a proxy war. These views were expressed by noted columnist Zahid Hussain while speaking on the subject, “Media: Judge and Jury — The fire of bigotry and extremism”, at the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences on Saturday evening. Tracing the history of bigotry and oppression in Pakistan, Hussain, who had been an active NSF leader in his university days and was in the forefront of the movement for freedom of expression and liberalisation, took the gathering back into the 1970s and the 80s and recalled the suppression of that time when he and some of his comrades were thrown into incarceration just for criticising the budget as prorich. They were detained under the Defence of Pakistan rules which were nonbailable. Such a thing, he said, would not be possible today on account of the phenomenal advancement in technology whereby a picture can be sent abroad within three minutes. Now there’s no stopping of dissemination of information globally through coercive means, he said. Hussain attributed the release of the six bloggers detained recently to these advances in information technology. The wave of bigotry that had overtaken our society, especially over the last decade, he said, would consume it like a giant conflagration. Over the last decade, he said, a whole lot of people had been killed in terrorist and extremist attacks. He said that a National Action Plan was drafted after the Army Public School, Peshawar, incident, but it had shown no results. He blamed the bigotry, among other things, on the massive brainwashing the religiously oriented elements resorted to. In this context, he cited his interview with a person who had been held on terrorism charges, and said that the fellow was so motivated that he said that “anybody who’s against the Emir deserves to be killed”. It was on account of this institutionalised bigotry, he said, that our social fabric was being blown to smithereens. Hussain said that the results of this bigotry that was being pumped into young minds were there for all to see. He said one of the reasons for this murderous state of affairs was that there was no writ of the state. Dwelling further on the bigotry in our set-up today, he said a very dangerous, very lethal aspect of that was the addition of the blasphemy laws to the bloggers’ case.