Government pressure groups harmed press -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Government pressure groups harmed press

LAHORE- Speakers of a seminar observed that the society degenerated because the press had never been given freedom, rather it was manipulated by governments and different pressure groups to their own ends.

The seminar titled “freedom of press and role of press in present conditions in Pakistan” organised by Mir Khalil-ur-Rehman Memorial Society, was chaired by Punjab Law and Information Minister Dr Khalid Ranjha. Former chief justice Lahore High Court was the chief guest.

The speakers said the other aspect of the scenario was that the press itself had never acted responsibly and served different vested interests instead of performing its basic function of informing, educating and entertaining the people. Many of them said negative trends in the press were directly linked with the low salaries of journalists, which prompted them to compromise their integrity for financial gains.

Speakers included former Federal Shariat Court judge Abdul Waheed Siddiqui, former head of Punjab University Journalism department, Dr Miskeen Hijazi, noted journalist Hussain Naqi, former minister Ahmad Saeed Kirmani, PML leader Anwarul Haq Ramay, PPP leader Aslam Gurdaspuri, JI information secretary Amirul Azim, PAT chief organiser Maj Aftab Lodhi, ILM journalism department head Zarqa Shaheen, PPP(SB) leader Furrukh Suhail Goindi, lrshad Haqqani etc. Majority of the speakers, particularly the political leaders, hardly touched the topic and indulged in criticising their rivals by holding them solely responsible for all the ills in the society.

Dr Khalid Ranjha said the press was among the most important national institutions responsible for preserving country’s ideological and geographical borders. He said the deadliest crime committed against the nation was the systematic destruction of the institutions for personal gains.

He said certain rulers even attacked the Supreme Court and reduced the constitution to a toilet paper.

He said the present day press was more freer than it had been during the last 30 years. He said that to him the most important principle among all those governing the working of the press was “to tell the government and the nation what they had not done which they should have done.” He said “this is the right time the press grew as an institution to actually become the fourth pillar of the state.”

Justice Ilyas said the press should act as a watchdog against the subtle forms of invasions such as foreign cultural invasion in shape of films, customs and superficial friendship from a neighbouring country. He said if India was sincere in friendship then it should give up gimmicks and come to serious dialogue on contentious issues like Kashmir.

Dr Hijazi said press should under all conditions be mainly guided by the national interests. He said financial interests should be protected but not at the cost of truth and national interests. He said many papers had been serving the interests of political parties which was the biggest injustice to the nation. He debunked the idea of absolutely impartial press, saying even the US press had never been impartial but always acted as a pro-US press. He said Pakistani press could not be made free of external influences without first changing the system which always brought a certain anti-people class into power.

Waheed Siddiqui said yellow journalism caused the outbreak of both of the world wars. He held yellow journalism mainly linked with the poor salaries of the newsmen. He suggested government should give subsidy to the press and enact effective laws to check the negative tendencies among the journalists.

Kirmani said the freedom of press was threatened by four elements – government, proprietors’ own interests, business interests and political bribery in shape of plots and other gifts.

Gurdaspuri said the country was destroyed by the military dictators who never allowed a free press.

Society Chairman Dr Hassan Rizvi said the journalists had the honour of preach truth in every era.

Society Patron Irshad Ahmad Haqqani said the way World Press Freedom Day was being celebrated throughout the world spoke of the importance of the press freedom. He said free and fair journalism played a pivotal role in apprising the public of national affairs.

Hussain Naqi said that in the past many crimes had been committed in the name of journalism. He said the country was in a ciitical situation and there was a need for educating people through the press. He said the daily Jang should highlight the issue of current water crisis and other problems of the country as the newspaper was widely read throughout the country.

Ameerul Azeem said Pakistani press had its roots connected with Pakistan movement. He said people like Mir Khalil-ur-Rehman were pioneers in journalism with a vision and mission.

Aftab Lodhi said the power of press is not also seen in what they publish but also in what they do not.

Professor Zarqa Shaheen said we were living in a society of compromises. She said the commercial side had not been neglected by successful newspapers to compete in the market. She said both society and the press were responding to each other in terms of different social behaviours.
Source: The News
Date:5/4/2000