Media’s role vital against impunity: Justice Jillani
LAHORE: Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani of the Supreme Court of Pakistan said on Saturday the media played a crucial role in motivating the civil society – both at the national and international level – against the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by General Pervez Musharraf, one of the gravest acts of impunity ever committed against the judiciary.
He was speaking on the second day of an international conference by the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. The topic of the second day was, “Justice and Impunity-Its portrayal by the media”.
Besides noted lawyers, eminent journalists, including Hamid Mir, Ayaz Amir and Absar Alam, also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the role of the media.
Justice Jillani said that, today, the media played an important role in resisting impunity and ensuring that governments were accountable to the public and keeping the people informed about the actions of the officials and institutions, and rights and duties of the citizens.
He said honest and courageous reporting by the media had not only buttressed democracy but also infused a culture of accountability. The investigating reports on corruption, human rights violations and other acts of omission and commission by the government made many arbitrary and corrupt rulers to tremble which eventually led to their exit, he added.
The judge stated that wherever and whenever the media faltered in its duty to expose the impunity and atrocities, it led to grave violations of human rights and misery. He said in an age of globalize interdependence, in the wake of 9/11 and the rhetoric of the so-called clash of civilizations, media’s role had assumed an added dimension. “The media has a role to play in identifying the conflicts, initiating dialogue, involving groups through unbiased coverage and well balanced analysis.”
The classic example of such an initiative to promote peace in the regional context was the one taken by two best known media houses of sub-continent, Times of India and Jang Group from Pakistan, called “Aman Ki Asha”. Sixty years ago, these two countries won freedom from colonial rule but, sadly, they were still facing the challenge of poverty, mistrust and bigotry and ignorance and lack of reason, he added.
Justice Jillani said, “If countries of Europe could learn to live in peace after two deadliest wars in human history and form the European Union, why can we not resolve mutual conflicts and thereby canalize our resources for promoting peace and for socio-economic uplift of the people?”
He said the struggle against impunity and battle for justice had many fronts and media through print, radio, television and internet could foster awareness of common goals, of values which bind humans together and in sensitizing people across the frontiers. He said the challenge ahead for the media was to establish a global citizenry and leadership which were driven by a vision, a resolve and dedication, to combat impunity in all its forms, to promote peace and transparency and to resist abuses of human rights with a view to strengthen the dispensation of justice at the domestic level and the emerging patterns of international justice.
Speaking on the occasion, Abid Hasan Minto said that, in the presence of feudal law, establishment of a society based on justice and democracy was not possible. He said progress of south Asian countries required promotion of democracy and civil liberties.
Senior attorney of Sri Lanka, J.C Weliamuna said media played a diagnostic role for transparency in a democratic system and dispensation of justice in society. He said, “If media persons do not play their impartial role, then politicians can not be held accountable.” It was media which could show real face of wrongdoers and make their existence miserable.
Barrister Syed Ali Zafar said rule of law could only be established through combination of a free press, independent judiciary and a society that was determined not to be part of the problem. He said it was vital that everyone played their role, if the wheel of justice was to run smoothly and effectively in all corners of the state.
Zafar pointed out it was the media which could eventually make the perpetrators of crimes accountable, quoting Abraham Lincoln, “Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe”.
Senior journalist Hamid Mir said it was Pakistani media that fought against a dictator when many political leaders were spending lavish life in foreign countries. He disregarded an opinion of his earlier speaker (Ayaz Amir) who in his speech had advised the media to play a responsible role and to some extent also criticized the present role being played by the Pakistani media.
He said No-3 PCO promulgated by the military dictator had a direct link with war on terror. He said it was the media that had exposed the conspiracy by the dictator against judiciary and then seven members of the Supreme Court had issued a stay against the PCO and imposition of emergency in the country.
He said Pakistani media had not supported any individual but the democracy and the judiciary. He said rule of law and real democracy, not army, were a solution to any problem. He also showed the participants some video clips run by Pakistani news channels during lawyer’s movement wherein lawyers, media persons, and members of civil society were seen beaten by the state forces. Stressing upon the need of justice in a society, he said Benazir Bhutto still needed justice as her killers had not been arrested so far.
Source: The News