Need for independent media of Muslim countries underlined -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Need for independent media of Muslim countries underlined

KARACHI- Speakers at a seminar underlined the need for the Muslim countries to have their own international media for unbiased and independent coverage of events, like those following the September 11 terrorist attacks in America. In addition, they smelt a rat in the US-led war against terrorism in Afghanistan as it wanted to get access to oil reserves of Central Asia.

They were speaking on Thursday at a seminar on “Is international media coverage on the war against terrorism balanced?” organized by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) at the PPF-Vicky Zeitlin Media Library.

Addressing the seminar, senior journalist Fazal Qureshi said foreign correspondents, posted along the Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan and NWFP for war coverage, had hired the services of local guides, interpreters and even journalists working for the local media. It is in this manner, he said, that the local population had become beneficiaries of the American strikes on Afghanistan.

Qureshi lamented the state of affairs in Pakistan which, he said, had been severely affected due to lack of independent and free operation of electronic media in the country. He observed that the credibility of the government-controlled media was doubtful and failed to project the government’s viewpoint on September 11 even within the country.

On the other hand, he said the country’s print media, working independently in the private sector, had so far given fair, unbiased and impartial coverage to the post-September 11 incidents and the American “war against terrorism.”

He said although the military government had given maximum independence to newspapers and there was no official advice and censorship on reportage of the religious scholars’ statements against government.

Senior journalist Sajjad Mir said the access of journalists and media was being denied by the authorities to the origin of American strikes, i.e. the warships in the Arabian Sea and other military bases in the region and to the targets of these attacks in Afghanistan.

He said as Pakistan was playing a central role in the campaign against Afghanistan and also offering all-out assistance to America to carry out its strikes, the news about the coverage of the war should have emanated from Pakistan but that was not the case. Mainly due to denial of access by the government to military bases used by the US.

He expressed fears that on the pretext of waging a war against terrorism in Afghanistan, the US wanted to capture the oil reserves in the Central Asian states. He also expressed reservations that the US, by moving its forces in southeast Asia for fighting its war against terrorism wanted to maintain its military presence in the region to contain the emerging power of China.

Dr Talat Wizarat, a faculty member at the Department of International Relations of Karachi University, said the American attacks on Afghanistan were actually an effort on its part to monopolize all forms and means of terrorism. She said the American policy against terrorism had the underlying notion that all sorts of latest military hardware and technologies could only be available to its forces free use.

She also talked about the hidden American agenda, under which the war against Afghanistan ‘was being launched, which according to her envisaged that US military bases would be established in many countries of Middle East and South East Asia to contain China and radical Muslim movements like Hizbollah in Lebanon which were working against the American interests in the region.

Dr Talat expressed her fear that in the aftermath of the American war against terrorism Muslim students in America would be de barred from taking admissions in courses of commercial flying and also from the studying the biological subjects of microbiology and biotechnology.

She held the US media responsible for such repercussions in future against Muslim community in America due to its biased and unfair coverage towards it helping to create stereotypes about the member of the community.

She said the American media would have condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and Red Cross offices in Afghanistan more vocally had these been committed by any Muslim country.

Dr Talat observed that now the enlightened, human loving and conscientious people, both from the Muslim and Western media, would join to protest against the loss of innocent lives in Afghanistan.

Former federal minister Javed Jabbar said that fair and independent coverage was only possible when media people were very detached and at a distance from the event, they were reporting. Such a detachment and distance was not available for the coverage of the terror strikes in America so affecting the impartiality and fairness of the coverage. He said the English language international media was only useful to 1 billion population of the world, which can understand the language and added that the notion that it was the sole dominating media in the world was wrong. He said the people from the non-English speaking world prefer to gain information about the current situation from the local media.

He said the coverage of the post-September 11 situations was totally unbalanced and partial, as there was no global media channel from any of the Muslim country.

He lamented the situation that the Middle Eastern countries in the 1970s earned much wealth and profit from their oil reserves, stashing it all away in the Swiss, French and American banks but /failed to establish a global radio or TV channel. Javed also observed that America had no need to establish military bases in the region, as its bombers were capable of carrying sorties against Afghanistan from US soil.

Source: The News