Quest for the Superheroes of Journalism
After the Saach TV and the Transparency International Pakistan’s letter to the SC, Naseem Zehra of the Dunya news was allowed to do a little segment of her program with Ansar Abassi. Belatedly the Waqt News channel has been courageous enough to call Ansar Abbassi on Fareeha Idrees’s program at her 8pm show, when Talat Hussain’s program had already been put down 10 mins before being aired by the Dawn news, while the same channel failed to air another program with Ansar Abassi on Asma chaudhry’s program Target Point which was to be aired on the August, 23rd. There is also news that Muhamad Malik of the Geo news had invited Ansar Abassi on his show but had to refuse him in the last hour.
Mazhar Abbas a renowned journalist wrote a piece to the “Committee to Protect Journalists” an international body, which fights for the rights of Journalists around the globe. CPJ, posted it on their blog but have not given their own statement on this issue. But intensity of the issue can be now judged by CPJ becoming a party in the case.
While the Waqt News is laudable for its bravery to stand against the threats of the cable operators mafia and to question the position of PEMRA on the issue, the question of what really obscenity and vulgarity is and how its perimeters will be defined were suspended in the limbo throughout the program. While no one was allowed to say anything openly against the cable operators and while 3 of the guests were against obscenity, it seemed that the question of what really the perimeters of obscenity on media should be was left open. This is exactly the original position of the PEMRA wherein acting chairman PEMRA Abdul Jabbar has already stated that laws related to regularity of the programs were not well-defined and that vulgarity was relative; “Something which is vulgar to the complainants might not be vulgar to you and me.” Which takes us back to the age old debate, ‘who is going to decide between right and wrong? Who is going to draw the line? Fauzia Saeed, the social activist who was apparently unable to differentiate between Indian channels and the national geographic channel was of the idea that all things should be allowed to go on air and that people should be educated what to see and what not to.
Our stance here is that once we will be confused about the simple standard laid by the Quran, we will simply lose all standing. The standards laid by the Quran and the Sunnah may seem strict in the first glance but once implemented will bring ease, peace and prosperity in the society, if we believe in them.
In any case what Ansar Abassi, citing his sources had said, “I have been informed that all the TV channels including the top channels Geo, Dawn News, ARY and express have been told comply with the demand of cable operators.” has proven to be true as yet.
The question here is that who should the people of Pakistan look upon at this extreme time of treason with the constitution, ideology and the aspirations of the Muslim majority of the country. Who will decide if all this is being done for profits or if there are more to their agenda? Can the people trust PEMRA to be a regulator of the media; can the people trust the News channels, ‘the flag-bearers of morality’, for being morally responsible; can the people trust the government to safeguard their ideological and ethical boundaries; or can the people expect that at this crucial time their beloved anchor-persons, who never tire in bombarding all corruptions in any sector of the society, will voice this acute dilemma; should the people look up to the likes of Talat Husian, Hamid Mir, Kashif Abassi, Dr, Sahid Masood, M Luqman and J Caudhery. Female heroes of journalism not only jumped in but also managed to air their programs. Nasim Zehra and Fareeh Idrees programs are examples to quote, while Asma Ch, tried her best to highlight the issue, but unfortunately not backed by her own channel and management.
After highlighting this issue in its first place, PKKH asked many “male” journalists through social media about their stance on the issue, none of them replied with satisfactory answers. We are in a quest for “superheroes” of journalism now, who always talked about the freedom and power of pen.