Pashtoon Free Media -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pashtoon Free Media

Journalists in K-P want equal opportunities in the job market and demand that preferential treatment while hiring journalists ends

PESHAWAR: The media conditions in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) were once not as bad they are today. Regimes came and went but the only thing that went unnoticed and remained a cause of unrest and dissatisfaction among journalists was the unchanged structure of media in the country.

More than any other sphere of life, the media is very strictly controlled by some ‘hidden powers’, many say. These hidden powers, they say, make sure that Pakhtuns do not have a powerful local media in Pakistan. One needs to accept the fact that media in Pakistan is ruled by the army and not the elected government. And this is the main reason that Pakhtuns have been deprived of an indigenous press.

The international media should highlight in detail the sufferings being endured by journalists in Afghanistan and K-P – the conflict-stricken province of Pakistan.

K-P is a dangerous place for working journalists. They are required to report from a region that is in the grip of the Taliban, military operations, state oppression, increasing sectarianism and wanted militant leaders. At the same time it is shocking to see that local reporters, by large, are not hired by the prominent media houses.

The owners of private news channels and the ‘big guns’ in the powerful political quarters seem to have developed a mutual understanding that precludes the hiring of young and qualified Pakhtun journalists.

While the well-known journalists adoring the news screens of our local TV channels rant on and on about K-P, the Taliban and the military operation, it is the local stalwarts that bear the brunt of the wrath that secret agencies and militants unleash upon them – that too without the national recognition that they deserve.

Some have had to pay a higher price for their steadfastness. Misri Khan, a veteran journalist for more than 20 years, was shot dead in Hangu on September 14 this year, as he entered the press club building. Before that, he had received many threats from local militant organisations.

Meanwhile media groups in Pakistan continue to hire employees that do not know the first thing about journalism and professionalism. For example, a couple of months ago, many were interviewed for an international American-funded Pashto radio channel, but most of the reporters and broadcasters were appointed on the basis of favouritism and recommendations. Some were not even called in for interviews.

Selective hearing

One of the major problems with the international and local media covering K-P and Afghanistan is that they only call people who speak against the on-going peace process, development in Afghanistan, the presence of international forces and the Afghan government, for interviews. This, invariably, benefits the enemies of the Afghans.

These people pretend to be democratic and therefore criticise the tiny flaws in the Afghan government and the presence of international forces in Afghanistan. What they forget, however, is that if these forces leave Afghanistan, the secret agencies and army will once again invade Afghanistan as they did in the past.

Blocked for public access

The government of Pakistan has stopped broadcasting Pashto TV channels from Afghanistan. They were a major source of encouragement and entertainment for the Pakhtuns living in K-P, Fata and other parts of the country.

Prominent Pakistan television channels have also not been fond of issues being faced by Pakhtuns.
Until media organisations free themselves from all forms of biases, they are unlikely to report the truth.

Holding meaningless interviews in closed-rooms will not help until Pakhtun boys and girls are given a chance to enter the field. It is unprofessional and unfair to shut the doors to national media on Pakhtuns because of their ethnic background or Pakhtun nationalism. Meaningless meanders won’t do, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa needs a voice of its on in the national media.

Pakhtun journalists need to be given a voice in the national media.
Source: The Express Tribune
Date:11/8/2010