Report of Workshop with Media professionals & CSOs on "Monitoring of Democratic governance and the Role of Media" -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Report of Workshop with Media professionals & CSOs on “Monitoring of Democratic governance and the Role of Media”

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

3-Day Consultative Workshop with Media professionals & CSOs on “Monitoring of Democratic governance and the Role of Media” December 14-16, 2011 at Muzaffarabad

Objectives:
• To review the role of Media & CSOs in monitoring the democratic governance
• To discus Media & CSOs role in promoting democracy
• To review the progress of government in media & CSOs perspective

Participants of a 3-day workshop have said an independent, free and impartial media was essential factor in promoting democratic governance; proactive role of media and CSOs can minimize corruption from the Society. They said we must highlight objectives necessary for good governance and the fight against corruption by generating media support and to ensure the freedom and independence of the media. We should develop an improved understanding for the media’s potential for preventing and combating corruption.

This was observed during a 3-Day consultative workshop with Media and CSOs representatives on “Monitoring Democratic Governance and the role of Media, organized by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) from 14-16 December, 2011 at Royal Continental Hotel Muzaffarabad. The workshop was participated by 23 representatives of media and CSOs including lecturer and students of Azad Jammu Kashmir.

They said that the media had a very substantial role in exposing corruption. The guilty do not like public attention and while investigative journalism is not that developed in Pakistan as in the western world, it certainly has great potential. The problem is that investigative journalism is anathema to both the public sector as well as the media’s commercial transactions.

Media in Pakistan has played pivotal role in high lighting public interest issues like Poverty, Illiteracy, lack of health facilities, price hike, unemployment, Human Rights violations, rule of Law, Potable water issue and corruption but media attention to the issues of AJK was not proactive as people had been expecting.

Participants said NGOs should also play their more active role in promoting democratic governance and exposing the corrupt practices in the society. Media has been communicating priorities of government and elected representatives to the public and had been making them accountable as well by broadcasting/telecasting and printing promises of government and elected representatives. Media has played a positive role in promoting transparency as well.
They said people got relief followed by media stories in many incidents and thus it had minimized the incidents of human rights violations in Pakistan and AJK as well. Media was playing better role by giving coverage to the activities of religious minorities which would promote religious harmony in the country. Some media anchors and newspapers had played biased role against religious minorities that was condemnable act.

Participants emphasized that political parties should raise awareness among the masses about their political and social rights and work to strengthen the democratic institutions.

NGOs and media should raise awareness among masses about the good governance and its benefits.

Mr. Shaukat Javed Mir (spokesperson to Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Media advisor of Pakistan Peoples Party Azad Kashmir) said government was committed to resolve the prevailing issues of the public and it had always believed in freedom of Press and freedom of expression. He said his Party had the history of sacrifices for the democracy and freedom of press; there fore they had given maximum freedom to the press but press should also adopt its own accountability mechanisms.

He said that government of the day had been striving for good governance in the country. He criticized the role of some NGOs and media houses for defaming government as any cost for their personal benefits and biases.

Mr. Mir said free and unbiased media and judiciary were essential for good governance.

The Head of National Rural Support Program (NRSP) (Muzaffarabad region) Mr. Israr Abbasi said NGOs had their limited role because mostly had been conducting fund driven activities so they have to work in specified direction as per their project proposal.
He said CSOs had played remarkable role in raising awareness among masses because they had been working at community level and they had direct access to public. The independent judiciary was necessary component for good governance.

Senior journalist Shehzad Lolabi said free media was key factor for the establishment of good governance and CSOs should stand with media whenever media was in threat or any pressure of the government. If some one wanted to have good governance in the society then they should support freedom of press and freedom of expression.

Mr. Raja Naveed, Director General Information Department of AJK said no one can ignore the importance of media and it has played its role very effectively. Mr. Naveed offered Pakistan Press Foundation to start a joint venture of training of journalists and Information Officers as well.

In the end Certificates were awarded to the participants by DG Information Mr. Raja Naveed.
Lala Hassan, Senior Coordinator of PPF, was the moderator of workshop.

Follow up: More than nine local and national newspapers of AJK covered the event; while one 30 minutes live program was held on the issue at Muzaffarabad FM Voice of Kashmir. Senior Coordinator Lala Hassan was interviewed.