Journalists urged to expose corruption
KARACHI- Amid continuing national debate on corruption, media experts maintained that international donor agencies were equal partners in it and that journalists could contribute a great deal in checking and curbing this menace. These views were expressed during a round table discussion on the role of the press in challenging corruption, held at the American Centre.
When a participant maintained that international donor agencies like the World Bank and IMF were also responsible for corruption in Pakistan, main speaker of the day, a senior American journalist and consultant, Economic Development Institute, World Bank, David Pezzullo, said that “it is very important that the World Bank be accountable to the people of Pakistan who are becoming increasingly indebted.”
During the course of discussion, which centred more on the problems being faced by the press due to a lack of access to information law, illiteracy, and lack of security amid erosion of civil society, participants observed that Pakistani journalists have exposed corruption.
When reference was made to alleged corruption in submarine and Mirage deals with France, purchase of tanks from Ukraine and other such deals, some participants pointed out that international media was lacking in its responsibility in exposing such deals which were said to have high rate of kickbacks.
Pezzullo, who worked as investigative journalist for Nicaragua’s daily La Prensa, said that media should create awareness among the people and suggest solutions for structural corruption. He said that press could play an important role in checking the abuse of power and contribute towards greater participation in decision-making process as well as the framing of rides.
Pezzullo said the access-to-information law was a must for combating corruption in the society. Pakistani journalists expressed views on the efforts made by their colleagues in exposing corruption despite a lack of trained investigative reporters and absence of legal protection and the institution of professional editor and growing control of a few groups of the press besides the role of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE).
They also maintained that the ruling elite in Pakistan was deliberately keeping the people ignorant, by keeping them illiterate. While dealing with the limitation of target audience for the English and vernacular newspapers and magazines, 37 per cent literacy rate in the country was cited as a big impediment. Cost of newspapers was yet another factor.
Senior journalist Ghazi Salahuddin, while moderating the discussion spoke of the gulf between the press and the civil society. Director of the Press Institute of Pakistan (PIP), Professor Zakariya Sajid, chief editor of Pakistan Press International (PPI), Fazal Qureshi, Sabihuddin Ghausi, Abid Ali Syed, Mazhar Abbas and Ghulam Hasnain also expressed their views.