Government to announce positive news about YouTube anytime soon: Secretary
Islamabad: Secretary Information and Broadcasting Dr Nazir Saeed on Wednesday hinted at “good news” of lifting the ban on the popular video-sharing website Youtube in coming few days. Speaking at a conference on “Alternative Media in Pakistan: Opportunities and Challenges”, organised by Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBS) and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) with the support of the German Foreign Office, the secretary also urged media for a constructive discourse which is in line with national agenda.
He said, “Freedom of speech is essential part of a dynamic democracy, and the people today have more options to choose their medium of information.”
He said that the government encouraged discussions on issues with a hope of positive outcome while keeping in view the national agenda. To elaborate the national agenda, he said that it needed a comprehensive debate on the media to define certain parameters of national interests.
Responding a question about the ban on YouTube‚ the secretary said the government would soon announce “positive news” in this regard in coming few days.
Dr Saeed also emphasised the need for the use of emerging media such as social networking websites for promotion of progressive agendas in the country. He remarked that the Ministry of Information was playing an important role in curtailing negative values and yet encouraging dialogue for positive change in the country.
German Ambassador Cyril Nunn, while speaking, lauded the courage of Pakistan journalists in bringing facts to the public. He underscored the need for promoting progressive discourse through alternative media in Pakistan. This should help dispel notions of terrorism and conflict with regards to the country, he added.
He said media was evolving in Pakistan and new generation was more interested in getting news from alternative media sources.
Speaking on the occasion, Matthias Spielkamp, Editor-in-chief, Irights, Berlin observed that alternative media like blogs had brought about an enormous change in public discourse as they enabled many people to have a say over issues of public interests.
Rana Junaid, Researcher, SDPI presented findings from research on alternative media, which focused on the multifarious meaning of alternative media in a constantly changing media world.
The term alternative media is fraught with multiple meanings ranging from community radio shows to mainstream news, he said, adding that alternative media includes all media and forums, besides mainstream media such as news channels and daily newspapers.
He further elaborated that the number of social media users in Pakistan had been on a steady rise over the years, and this had led to mass dialogue and discourse over various issues in the country.
Nuclear physicist and Director of the Eqbal Ahmed Center for Public Education, Professor Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, opined that the general mindset in Pakistan was one in which masses blame all internal ills like terrorism, poverty, corruption and institutional degradation, among others, as conspiracies of external forces, discounting local factors contributing to problems in the country.
He exemplified by playing some of his own home recorded documentaries and articles to illustrate how the internet could be used as a means of disseminating rationality and objective thinking to the masses by means of social media and social networking platforms on the internet, in order to discourage the commonly held conspiracy-theorist mindset. In his presentation on “Interactive Community Mobilisation”, Mohammad Waseem from the Interactive Resource Center, Lahore described how interactive theater and live performances could be used as effective means for mass dissemination of important lessons in an entertaining and engaging way.
He also showcased how theatre performances were used in far-flung areas to highlight societal evils, such as violence against women, to those who lack access to primary information and learning resources. He also lauded citizen participation in terms of contributing to a new era of citizen journalism, which has set an excellent example of alternative media for progressive change in Pakistan.
Sabeen Mahmud, Director of Peace Niche, Karachi, in her presentation on “Overcoming the Tyranny of Traditional Schooling”, described the flaws in the traditional schooling system in Pakistan as being static and non-flexible rather than dynamic.
In her view, most children were forced to study on various subjects with complete disregard to their own skills. She exemplified her views through reading out an excerpt of prose and poetry on the subject in which various young children were shown to be trapped in classrooms studying subjects that were entirely opposite of what their true passion and innate skill was for.