Journalists call for freer reporting on Indo-Pak conflict -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Journalists call for freer reporting on Indo-Pak conflict

KARACHI, May 18 2006: Speakers at a workshop on conflict reporting ‘Media Coverage of India and the Indians’, stressed the need for more flow of information, access to conflict areas for journalists and more objective reporting, according to a press release May 17.

They said lasting peace between the two countries is possible if the media of the two countries remained free and restrictions such as a ban on private TV news channels, exchange of newspapers and magazines were lifted and journalists were allowed to cover the “conflict” without any hindrance.

The speakers were of the view that journalists should be given proper training by their organisations on conflict reporting and should be provided com­plete insurance cover whether they are reporters, photographers or camerapersons. They said that in both countries, the print and electronic media used provocative language more often when it comes to reporting the “conflict,” which should be avoided.

In the morning session, Prof Moonis Ahmar of the International Relations Department, University of Karachi, said journalists could play a vital role in a conflict situation by providing factual and objective information about the causes and nature of the conflict, players in the conflict, the course of conflict and the process of conflict resolution.

“A number of initiatives have taken place in the field of print and electronic media around the world to train reporters to professionally cover happenings in conflict zones and come up with eyewitness accounts of the escalation of conflict,” he said. He gave a number of examples of how the Pakistan and Indian English media have reported the “conflict,” and where they have been biased in reporting whether it is the Times of India, DAWN or The Nation.

For instance in India, the media used the word terrorists for Kashmiris, militants for those fighting in the Indian State of Punjab and separatist when it come to Asam. Similarly, one side used cross-border terrorism others termed it cross-border infiltration. One called it insurgency, the other side called it freedom fighting.

Prof Tauseef Ahmed Khan, chairman of the Mass Communication Department, Urdu University, read a paper on the state of the Urdu press and said it was most unfortunate that the two prominent Urdu newspa­pers were giving daily news about India while sitting here. In this respect, he gave a number of examples on how a correspondent gives news of New Delhi while sitting in Karachi.

Owais Tohid, director news, ARY One World, said that though it was true that “truth” is the first casually in a war, journalists can play their role in the given circumstance. Karachi Press Club President Ghazi Salahuddin said journalists must report facts and should not be biased in reporting, though they may have their own opinion about the conflict.

Rehana Hakim, editor of monthly Newsline, said that there was a need for respecting opinion. She said during the editors meeting with the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif days before Pakistan exploded the nuclear bomb, the editors who opposed the decision were criticized by their own colleagues.

BBC correspondent Wusatullah Khan said it was difficult for a person who has grown up with a mindset of hatred against India and vice-versa to remain unbiased while reporting on Indian conflict. Zahid Hussain, senior journal­ist with GEO TV, said that the electronic media too faced a lot of pressure from the government and other quarters during news coverage. He did not agree that the electronic media promoted sensationalism and said people had the right to know and see footage of bomb blasts or killings that reflect the situation and showed the accuracy of the report. PFUJ Secretary General Mazhar Abbas, senior DAWN correspondent Nizam Siddiqui and Maheen Rashidi conducted the proceedings.
Source: Daily Times
Date:5/18/2006