Media, people not to accept curbs on comedy, parody shows -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Media, people not to accept curbs on comedy, parody shows

KARACHI: Closely and continuously following in Musharraf’s footsteps, the Zardari-led Gilani NRO dispensation, besides getting ready to impose severe sanctions on media independence, is also all set to compel media channels to censor most popular parody and comedy shows like ‘Hum Sab Umeed say Hain’, ‘Khabarnaak’ and BNN.

In an environment of extreme depression and with bad news emanating from all sides, a vast majority of the people in Pakistan and abroad like these comedy and parody shows and programmes very much. These are the only programmes which bring smiles to the faces of millions of Pakistanis. In some instances, these programmes show actors made up as top people in government as well as in opposition and these dummies mostly perform acts or situations which are reported in the media.

People at large not only enjoy the acting but also get information of what is happening or being reported in the media about their politicians and other important people in the corridors of power.

At times, the mimics will act out the rapidly-changing statements of the politicians and in a way remind them of what they were saying on the same issue in the recent past. In this connection, people enjoy the acting of impersonators of Rehman Malik in different programmes very much. At present, the most popular actor was made up like Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan repeating his previous and present statements on the issue of the implementation of historic NRO judgment. This dummy of Aitzaz participated in a parody of Geo News’ programme “Laikin” and clarified that in the past he used to say: “There is no harm in writing the Swiss letter”, and now he is saying: “There is also no harm in not writing the letter”, and argued that there is no contradiction between the two statements. This parody show reflected the actual situation in a funny way and left the decision to the people to decide when Aitzaz was wrong, now or in the past.

All this is done with good faith and for the recreation and happiness of the viewers and is never aimed at ridiculing anybody. It’s simply a satire though also containing positive criticism at times, something, which is practiced in all the civilised and developed countries of the world which believe in democracy and freedom of expression.

Among the most popular, the dummies of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and that of senior journalist Sohail Warriach are not only liked but loved by the people of Pakistan. However, the PPP government which has given the gifts of sky rocketing inflation, rampant corruption and worst ever bad governance to the people of Pakistan now even want to snatch these moments of happiness from them.

Clause-8 of proposed draft of new sanctions against the Pakistani media by the PPP government reads as; “8. Ethical & social values: d)- Offensive or derogatory jokes, words, gestures, songs/ parodies, dialogues and subtitles are not broadcast or distributed.”

This clause shows the obvious designs of the PPP government to censor these popular comedy and parody shows. Federal information Firdous Ashiq Awan, while talking to The News clearly admitted that it was the government which was introducing these sanctions but she insisted that these are for ‘regulating’ the electronic media and not to dictate ot it. However, those who knew Ms Firdous, are well aware of the fact that how much power she has in the process of decision making. It was clear that she was pursuing some orders and these orders are coming from the most powerful centre of the present PPP government. The clear objective of these sanctions is to tame the electronic media during the final overs of different matches like Memogate, the NRO Implementation Case, Prime Minister’s contempt case, NICL scam and most importantly the forthcoming general elections. Some disgruntled elements and loyalists of the PPP’s top leadership tried to give twist to issue of these new sanctions by the PPP government and lamented that the establishment was directing Pemra to do this so as to stop the news channels from airing statements of the angry Baloch leaders and missing persons case. However, the fact is that the PPP government is doing all this simply to pressure the media to not to expose its rampant corruption and wrong deeds so as to save its drowning image during the next elections.

Top Pemra officials confirmed to The News that top most government authorities want Pemra to assert itself now and tame the media in a way that news items carrying details of its corruption, bad governance and irregular appointments might not be aired in near future and during forthcoming elections.

Firdous Ashiq Awan has admitted that today (Monday) her government was arranging a big show at Pemra to discuss these regulations. It is however evident that if the PPP government tried to impose any sanctions on media independence and tried to censor most popular comedy and parody programmes not only the media will not accept any such unconstitutional steps but people who love these shows will reject these restrictions and will publicly show their anger against the rulers.

The News