Sir: Now the religious parties have orchestrated a campaign against a local television network. A number of blasphemy cases have been registered, in different parts of the country against the owner, the anchorperson and a number of other people associated with the morning programme that has allegedly run the blasphemy content. Forgotten, in the midst of this protest, is the golden rule of the law: ‘innocent until proved guilty’.
The courts have yet to examine the content to establish if it was blasphemous or not. But the ‘public court’, acting as the police, witnesses, prosecutors and judges, has given the verdict to suspend the licence of the television channel in question. It is absolutely true that television channels, in the pursuit of high ratings and an impressive bottom line, have ignored the principles of journalism. Still, this ignorance does not warrant the affected parties to become unreasonable in determining the extent of the damage. Blowing things out of proportion, as has been done, would take the country into deeper troubles, with a direct bearing on democracy.
A more disturbing part of this campaign has been the concentrated attack of some media houses against one channel. Is it out of jealousy? If so, then the media in Pakistan is in a serious dilemma. Pakistan’s media had been under excessive censorship in the past but never did it cause the relationship among different media groups to sever. Neither did any media group give in to the dictation of the power-lords. They would err on the side of caution but never surrender as is happening now.