SAFMA clarifies debate between Hamid, Sirmed
LAHORE: This is with reference to a recent debate between Zaid Hamid and Marvi Sirmed that we are constrained to issue the following clarification on behalf of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA):
a) The debate in a programme aired by a private TV channel was against some professional ethics as the “accused” (SAFMA) was not represented in the said programme, despite the facts that the whole debate was focused on the association. This is unfortunate and against professional ethics that despite SAFMA’s caution against hurling of malicious and defamatory allegations by Hamid in the absence of a SAFMA representative, some allegations of a highly grave nature were levelled by the accused against whom the association had issued a legal notice.
b) Whatever Hamid said against SAFMA was atrocious and unfounded and is libel.
c) On the other hand, despite her clarification that she is not a member of SAFMA, whatever Marvi had said was being treated wrongly as if they were views of the association. She neither had any right to represent SAFMA nor had any briefing from the media association to defend or represent it. She is entitled to her own views just like Hamid. This is utterly wrong to say that SAFMA or the anchor person of another private news channel sent Marvi to the debate, even though it has a lot of senior journalists to defend itself and is capable of doing at any forum and at any level.
d) A lot of debate is going on in various kinds of media on SAFMA, We welcome difference of opinion and its diversity. But can neither indulge in mud slinging nor take it lying down. We have been advised by our senior colleagues to firmly keep on the legal course against defamation that we have taken and not to give much importance to the accused. In this regard whatever is being expressed by even various SAFMA members in their individual columns and comments are their personal views they are entitled to have.
e) SAFMA both at the national and regional levels have journalists from various backgrounds and viewpoints, including hawks and doves pro or against this party and ideology or the other. In Pakistan and India we have both doves and hawks who agree to have talks. In Bangladesh we have journalists from both the contending parties and groups of journalists’ bodies. In Sir Lanka we have both Sinhala and Tamil journalists. The same is true about Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Afghanistan.
f) SAFMA has focused on two issues: a) Media its freedom and development: b) Conflict resolution, peace and regional cooperation while strengthening the SAARC process. SAFMA and its affiliates, such as South Asia Media Commission, have been in the forefront of the struggle for media freedom and will remain steadfast whatever the price. SAFMA is for peaceful settlement of all bilateral disputes, including Kashmir and various border disputes between other countries of the region, water and trade issues between the member countries of SAARC. Indeed SAFMA National Chapters do and must represent their views on various national issues, they are not bound to follow the viewpoint of their governments if they are not conducive to peace. SAFMA has often been caught in the crossfire of the wars of various agencies and conflicting nationalistic rhetoric and have been accused of being an agent of this agency or that. But we are proud to claim that we are agent of none other than the larger interests of our people and the cause of peace and a free media that we are firmly committed to. All our audits of accounts are available for anyone interested in our sources of revenues.
g) On various issues facing Pakistan, our SAFMA national chapter is strongly committed to a prosperous, strong, peaceful, democratic and federal Pakistan, even though its members are entitled to have their respective views.
h) At the regional level SAFMA has played a significant role in building confidence between Pakistan and India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh and Bhutan and Nepal, etc. SAFMA is the only body in the region which undertook exchange of journalists across the LoC and helped evolve a consensus on travel documents across the LOC which resulted in people to people contacts and trade between the divided Kashmir. SAFMA recognises differences between the two neighbours and is consistent in supporting peaceful means to resolve all differences between the two countries. (At his personal level the secretary general is determined to help bring peace in the subcontinent regardless of opposition from various quarters in the two countries. He is also committed to the right to self-determination of all the people, including Kashmiris, which also includes Azadi from both not acceptable to India and Pakistan.
i) Lastly SAFMA office bearers do not need any certification from any one for their patriotism and love for their motherland. They will remain steadfast against extremism, jingoism, and terrorism and cannot be pressurised by anyone however powerful. Notions of peace, progress and democracy will continue to be the motivating emblems in our efforts for a better South Asia and a democratic Pakistan.
Source: Daily Times