Introductory passage is provided by this website and may not represent the views of the archived document's author.
BACK

Search the Republic of Rumi

The Role Of Civil Society in Pakistan and India

Introductory
Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Closing & Thanks
Notes on Speakers

Archives

Civil Society in India and Pakistan, 3

Based on the procedings of the seminar "The Role Of Civil Society in Pakistan and India:
Peace, Conflict Resolution, Democracy" by Jang Group of Newspapers (Pakistan) & Friedrich/Naumann Foundation (Germany), September 12-13, 1997 at Pearl Continental Hotel, Karachi.

Text edited by Khurram Ali Shafique and Farida Z. Hemani


Session 3

Information dissemination and
popular culture

with special emphasis on softening of the political frontiers in the wake of communications revolution, National security blinkers in the media... and how civil society can benefit from media explosion


S. V. Raju (India)
Khaled Ahmed (Pakistan)
Raj Chengappa (India)
Karamat Ali (Pakistan)
I. A. Rehman (Pakistan)
Arif Hasan (Pakistan)
Discussion

S. V. Raju (India)

Quotes from the speaker

National boundaries are something people fifty years from now will laugh at!

A ministry of information and broadcasting is a contradiction in a democracy; you need such ministries only in a dictatorship.

The politicians never say no: they appoint committees – the surest way to see that things are knocked out.

Mr S. V. Raju focused on the effects of the communication revolution on the civil society.

He began with a personal definition of the communication revolution: not long ago our communication facilities outside the one to one communication were limited to letters, postcards and telegrams; then came the telephone, followed by the tele-printer. Radios were the first instruments of mass voice communication, dependent on powerful stations and hence dependent on the state. In the early sixties came the transistors, opening up wider horizons for the citizens in towns and villages who could now listen to the transmission in the areas which did not have electricity. All these could be censored. Teleprinters gave way to faxes, which cannot be censored and hence freedom from government control. Telephones are becoming more and more sophisticated, today having been followed by cordless and mobiles. Transistors took back seat as television became coloured. The latest were the satellites and computers. Instant communication had arrived. It gave birth to new channels on television and internet. Internet, like the civil society itself, is not commonly understood. It is neither a programme, nor a hardware, nor a software, it is really a place where you can get information and make information available instantly. It is estimated that over the world fifteen to twenty million people are using internet and it is growing so rapidly that in the next couple of years it is likely to increase over a hundred million. The main feature of the inetrnet is the electronic mail, and soon faxes will be out of date: again, you cannot censor the e-mail.

Today, all you need to acquire freedom of communication is a personal computer. Concepts like national sovereignty and solidarity, passports, visas, and papers telling us that we need to see the police when we come to Pakistan from India or vice versa, will soon become irrelevant. And so will be the national boundaries.

The sub-continent is in the middle of this communication revolution. It is sad that while the internet was in use by the US Army in the second world war and had been developed in the Europe in the sixties, it came to India only in the eighties when bankruptcy forced the rulers to liberalise their economic policy.

The politicians of the non-liberal type are thinking out ways of stopping the dissemination of information through technology – in Iran they have banned the dish antenna. But technology works faster than the brains of the politicians and bureaucrats. In the next ten years dishes may get smaller, even built in to the television sets themselves.

Mr. Raju narrated an anecdote to illustrate how national boundaries are already softening down. An individual from Los Angeles sent a message on the internet advertising the need for a software designer. The message was intercepted in Bangalore by two young computer programmers who struck a bargain with the advertiser, prepared the software and even sold it to someone in Paris. In the whole transaction there was exchange of money and a lot of negotiations but none of the three parties were ever required to leave there stations, and hence no passports, no checking at the customs and no waiting at the airports. This is perhaps how things are going to be in future.

Highlighting the importance of e-mails for NGOs, Mr Raju suggested that they could be the first step towards liberating them from geographical restrictions as well as the political whims of the local governments.


Khaled Ahmed (Pakistan)

Quotes from the speaker

The frontiers can be softened only by more truth…

In 1947 when the communal riots were on in India and Pakistan many people in both the countries had their own private opinion. Today, no Indian or Pakistani has his own private opinion.

If ever the cage is broken it will be broken because of the genuine assault on our minds by the BBC Urdu and the German radio – because that is where the news is laid; that is where the truth is being told.

If you wish to actually normalise at the regional level, then the print media, which are totally free, must also tow a free line of opinion.

The Pakistanis will find it easier to get away from this ‘mythology’ than the Indian because the Indians have been indoctrinated under a system of democracy and have thus become prejudiced by their own free choice.

Mr. Khaled Ahmed, a senior journalist from Lahore, pointed out that the advanced technology is no guarantee that frontiers will be softened. National boundaries had been breached right in the beginning, and long before the onset of the computer communication, as first the radios and then the televisions of India and Pakistan were heard and seen by people on the other sides of the border. However, he remarked, that if the purpose of the governments was to persuade the other side of the population then they have failed because neither the Indians have been persuaded by the PTV nor the Pakistanis by Door Darshan. At the same side, and sadly enough, the states have succeeded at "internal indoctrination". They have persuaded their own people to think in a particular way. Even friends across the borders cannot see each other face to face on political issues that are outstanding between the two countries, because they have both been fed contradictory data.

Mr. Ahmed quoted various examples from the Pakistani television, where the constant pattern is to show a non-Muslim or non-Pakistani girl falling in love with the Muslim hero. This pattern has been repeated in the background of Kashmir, Bangladesh and Kelash. The message is very clear, and very primitive: "we do not only have an upper hand over you but can also have your women!"

The Indian reply to this, according to Mr. Ahmed, can perhaps be seen in the movie where a Muslim Syed girl is shown falling in love with a Hindu boy.

In this scenario, Mr. Ahmed sees the population of both the countries relying more on the Urdu and Hindi broadcasts of BBC, and now also the German radio, for good impartial information as well as for undermining their own dictatorial ideological set-ups. The free press in India and Pakistan, especially Pakistan, has now made it a routine duty to reproduce these broadcasts.

What is happening is that the print media, which is totally free in both in India and Pakistan, and is rightly quite cruel to the politicians, is still slavishly following the government line in the matters of foreign policy.

More channels are opening up, but they also have little freedom; they censor cartoons as well as news and information. Hence, the two media are still talking to their own people and the political frontiers are only tightening.

Mr. Ahmed pointed out that the political frontiers can be hoped to soften if an advance is made in some other direction, such as free trade or free exchange of newspapers. For instance, if someone from Bombay wants his English newspaper to be sold in Pakistan then he will have to be very careful about what is being written – it won’t be the third or fourth editorial assistant anymore who will write whatever he has been indoctrinated about Pakistan. Then the Indian newspaper will have to cover Pakistan, and probably also to employ Pakistani journalists; the newspapers will become balanced. However, the scope of such an endeavour is moderated by the fact that the English readership in Pakistan is very limited.

A bigger problem will have to faced if free exchange of newspapers is extended to Urdu newspapers, because there is a large Urdu market in India, which might be unhappy in the beginning "by the inroad that our Nawa-i-Waqt and Jang will make into India." Their messages may also disturb the Indian readers but Mr. Ahmed hoped that the free market will perform its own miracle: "if you want to be sold in India and to get Indian advertisements, then you better be balanced."


Raj Changappa (India)

Quotes from the speaker

We like to cling to some of the images of the past that somehow reinforce some of the  prejudices that we have against each other.

What my personal views are, are my personal views but as a journalist the role we should be playing is questioning these things.

When we began to ask critical questions, people started wrying up. Sources started not returning my calls.

If you just set your heart to it and put your shoulder to some of these problems, you can solve them. To me that is a lot of hope.

Go across the board, talk about people’s problem on both sides. It would be surprising how much empathy there would be!

Mr Raj Chengappa of India Today focused on "National Security blinkers in the media." He began by looking at the recent round of talks and line of control (LOC) clashes [1997]. Referring to the third round of talks, he expressed his dismay that despite the passage of so many years, any contact between the two neighbours was still accompanied by suspicion, hostility and media coverage. "I think the maturing of our relationship will come only when such meetings become boring, routine and covered as any other news event"

Talking about the recent clashes, he observed that both sides were receiving only "one version" of what has been happening. Even to this day, it wasn’t clear as to "who fired the first shot." Mr Chengappa was of the view that the media needed to play more awareness rather than just provide routine coverage of the happenings. It is their job to present both sides of the picture and to let the people decide for themselves. In this regard, he gave his own personal example of that when he was covering the story of the recent clashes at the borders. He had received both the picture of a displaced Indian family and an injured Pakistani boy from the wires and there was great temptation to use only the picture of the displaced Indian family but that would have projected only one side of the story so he used both the pictures. "Whatever it is, whatever battles we face, I think images like that change our perception as to who we are fighting, what are we doing"

He called upon the print media to assume a more critical and analytical role as he felt that TV had a certain immediacy about it that did not permit sufficient analysis and questioning. Also, the media’s responsibility of providing objective and comprehensive coverage increases especially when it comes to covering sticky issues like Kashmir, nuclear programmes, military expenditure etc. He shared that when he wrote something good on the nuclear programmes, he would get a very good response from the people but when he started reporting the possible fire and health hazards of some of these nuclear power projects, the nuclear establishment got very upset.

He was of the view that the role of the civil society, particularly the NGOs, was significant in this regard. "I regard a lot of the NGOS more successful than the Chief Executives or any industry because they are in a position with very little investment, very little resources and they actually mobilise thousands of millions of people and actually bring a difference to their life."

Lastly, he recalled what a leading psychologist had told him: that there are two fundamental emotions displayed by human beings. Aggression, which symbolises our primitive existence; and empathy, that made us civilised and brought us together. Mr. Chengappa endorsed such seminars as important for fostering empathy between the people of the two countries and bringing them closer.


Karamat Ali (Pakistan)

Quotes from the speaker

Therefore, when we talk about national security, the blinkers are inbuilt, not imposed.

It involves their perception, their plans, their personnel and whatever they do. It becomes worst in Pakistan because of the direct military rule for more than 25 years but it’s no better in India.

What do the Kashmiris want? … Nobody seems to be interested in asking them what do they want and that is the common thing that you will find both in India and Pakistan especially among the intelligentsia.

This thing of territorial integrity evolved from the colonists because their main concern was with territories and not human beings and we adhere to it very strongly

We can’t talk about civil society based on small NGOs … we really need to seriously think about the limitations and not delude ourselves that we can substitute one with the other and if we do have to substitute, why do we need the state at all? To repress us, to suppress us, to extract whatever it can out of us?

Mr Karamat Ali spoke on "Media and it’s blinkers." He described himself as someone who was not a liberal and did not see social phenomenon just in the framework of the market. "One also has to look at the broader issues involved." Therefore, the existence or the non-existence of blinkers is jointly defined by the nature of the state and the reality of the media.

He explored both these variables separately during the course of his speech. Pursuing the "nature of the state" first, he observed that:

    1. "The states in the sub-continent are essentially a continuation of the colonial states." Referring to both India and Pakistan he felt, that, although there were changes in the way these states operated now in the post-colonial era, they still followed the old colonial pattern of keeping the natives out of any discourse that related to issues of national interest – whether political, social or economical in nature. Referring to Pakistan, he said that it had now graduated to being a client state from being a colonial state by way of the international globalisation led by the US. Quoting Chomski, the greatest living humanist, he elaborated upon the client state system of the US: "The basic fact is that the US has organised under its sponsorship and protection a new colonial system of client states ruled mainly by terror and serving the interest of a small local and foreign business and military elite." He noted that India, too, remains a client state but the Indian scholars do not like talking about it.
    2. "In Pakistan, the elite refuse to undertake the most basic reforms that are required, especially in the agrarian sector." Therefore, the state is characterised by a powerful, feudalistic agrarian sector, which is reflected in our lacklustre political development.
    3. "Both these states are national security states." He said that a colonial state was a national security state, which essentially meant that it had to secure the interests of its coloniser.

Exploring the "reality of the media", he made the following observations:

    1. Both India and Pakistan have privately-owned press. In Pakistan, the elite owns the press as a part of the establishment. We don’t have any papers under State Control.
    2. The press-ownership pattern in both the countries are monopolies. In Pakistan, the print media is dominated by three main houses: (a) Jang Group, (b) Dawn Group, and (c) Nation/Nawai Waqt Group. These publication groups are a part of the overall system and therefore cannot escape its suppressive nature. "These are big industrial houses, very closely linked to the economic, political and security establishments through a variety of connections."
    3. In Pakistan, we had had censorship for an extended period of time although there is no official censorship today. India did not have any censorship except during emergency periods.
    4. When it comes to national security issues, e.g. Kashmir, it is noted that the media on both the sides plays nothing but the role of a propagandist. "It simply propagates the views of the establishment. At the same time it effectively suppresses all dissenting views and in Chompski’s terminology, it is engaged in the function of manufacturing consent." Also, the media on both the sides observes the following stances in dealing with national security issues:
      • One cannot question the rights of the nationalities. "In Pakistan, you cannot say that the two-nation theory was wrong. In India, you cannot say that the two-nation theory was right. [And] nowhere can you say that these states in this whole sub-continent were actually a multinational entity."
      • Nobody can say anything against the official perception on Kashmir adopted by both the sides – which is that Kashmir is an integral part of their respective identity and territories.
      • The whole issue of militarization and especially nuclearization is a victim of self-imposed censorship. Nobody can challenge the established views on these issues.
    5. The media cynically and deliberately distinguishes in the manner that the nature of stories and editorials contained in the newspapers vary with their language and readership. In Pakistan, he noted that what is published in English newspapers is not published in Urdu newspapers and vice versa. The viewpoint of English papers tends to be more liberal, catering to its more learned and objective readers, whereas that of Urdu newspapers remains narrow and hostile. This holds true even when both of them are simultaneously owned by the same publishing house. A case in point, according to the speaker, was that of the Urdu daily "Jang" and the English daily "The News" which are both owned by the Jang Group.

Mr. Ali described the blinkers in the media as having "a material base," since "they are based on this very close interlocking of the private economic interest and the establishment." Therefore, the real issue was not of "the blinkers" but the "democratisation of the state". In other words, The State and the accompanying establishment need to be progressive and the blinkers will automatically disappear. Although the NGOs played a significant role in bringing about change, their role remained limited and in no way could be confused with the mammoth role that the State needs to play. "I think we need to have a democratic, socially responsible state and short of that there is no possibility of any change in the miserable situation of the majority of people of what we call the civil society in Pakistan... I think Indians also need to think along those lines."

Pointing out the differences between the outlooks of the Urdu and the English press, he observed that almost the entire editorial page of Jang appears to be the exclusive property of the most retrograde columnist in Pakistan. "I don’t know who has appointed them for they keep blurting out the worst kind of propaganda, worse, for instance than what even the GHQ would have wanted them to – regarding Kashmir, India and nuclearisation." He observed that this was very different from The News, which is an English newspaper owned by the same group.


I. A. Rehman (Pakistan)

Quotes from the speaker

We survived censorship because, thank God, the governments have never been so efficient as to stop people from thinking…

We are interested only in disaster stories.

You cannot stop Nusrat Fateh Ali from communicating to both people at the same time, or Ghulam Ali, or sometime some [artists] from India…

The Indian television has lowered the level of hate-talk from what there used to be in the past

From the front page to the back cover in every newspaper is devoted to the government, the people who want to be in the government or the criminals.

No we are witnessing the rule of media managers. The days of the guidance of professional editors are over…

I insist on each society getting the correct perspective of the other…

Mr. I. A. Rehman addressed the question: "How are we going to use this communication explosion?"

As an example of the impact the media can wield over the society, Mr. Rehman quoted the example of the demolition of the Babri Mosuqe: millions of people were able to watch it on both sides of the borders, and it was this telecast that provoked an instant reactions from societies in both India and Pakistan. Quoting another example, he mentioned a discussion on national security that he and his group of colleagues had in Islamabad. "Some people decided to make a story out of something which was not said… and they published it." When the next day some media persons went around collecting opinions on this story, Mr. Rehman’s group was condemned overnight by no less than one hundred and fifty politicians. "And all this time our efforts to say pleases let us know what are you shouting about" went all in vain.

Leading from these two examples, Mr Rehman came back to his basic question. He pointed out that the abuse of media was an even greater threat to the civil society than censorship.

Mr Rehman recalled the findings of a survey of the print media in India and Pakistan, conducted in 1988, with which he was associated. "We came to the conclusion that unless it was a disaster story, in India or Pakistan, it wasn’t likely to be reported in the other country." Hence, something good happening in Pakistan would not be reported in India, and the other way round. A more recent example of this was seen in the rebuilding of a temple in the Swat Valley that had been destroyed in the aftermath of the Babri Mosque: it was never reported in the Indian press. "If a woman is burnt in Rajastan in pursuance of satti, that will be published here, but there are so many people fighting this evil and they will not be reported."

Mr. Rehman also marked with concern that the media in both the countries is dividing even the domestic societies. "What are the media’s concerns? What is fit for reporting…?" Mr. Rehman observed that almost the entire space in our newspapers were given to activities related to the politics and the crime, giving little or no coverage to the activities of those groups who are striving for a better civil society. This, of course, gives a very disturbing picture of the society.

In view of the situation, Mr. Rehman suggested that the key to the solution was in the understanding that the media today is being run by managers, and not the professional editors. "Is it possible in India and Pakistan to work out something in the field of media so that the civil society gets a fair share?" This is left up to the civil society, since the governments in both the countries have been trying to propagate the na´ve view that one country will prosper only up to the extent that the other suffers. "It should be possible for both India and Pakistan to establish and develop media exchange in such a manner that they have a South Asian perspective."

Mr. Rehman also pointed out that unless the forces unleashed by the communication explosion are put to harness by those working in favour of a civil society, there is no guarantee that these forces will help build a better atmosphere. He mentioned as an example the discovery of the atomic energy: many scientists at that time thought that all the problems of humanity would now get solved. But that is not what has happened.

By way of suggestion, Mr. Rehman also mentioned that there is a need for groups of people from both the countries to come together and buy time on satellite for projecting things that would "help us understand each other."


Arif Hasan (Pakistan)

Quotes from the speaker

It is a new world that is being born and a new world requires a new type of human being.

Mr Arif Hasan summed up the session with an emphasis on a new historiography for the two countries because so far the history written by one is generally unacceptable to the other: "Perhaps it is necessary now for the historians on both sides to come together."

Contributing his opinion to the controversy grown earlier in the session over the role of the Indian films and satellite channels in Pakistan, he added: "For me, personally, the satellite stations of India have… made Hindi comprehensible for me, which was not possible through Door Darshan."


Discussion

Q. Why does India pose as a world power when it is not, and why does it say that it will sign the NTPT only when America does away with its nuclear weapons? (2) [Addressed to Mr. Raju] Is it not a better option to think about a unified, independent Kashmir? (3) [Addressed to Mr. Khaled Ahmed] What, in your opinion, is the way to reducing the influence of religion in the political processes of Pakistan?

Wing Commander (Rtd.) Farooqui

Q. (1) How can we make better use of media for building bridges between the two countries? (2) [Commenting on Mr. Khaled’s observations] One reason why the PTV and the Door Darshan fail to reach the audience in the other country is language: the language of the PTV news is too much Arabicised and the language of the Door Darshan news too much Sanskriticised. (3) Why cannot we have separate pages in the newspapers of India and Pakistan to cover the other country? (4) Why doesn’t the media carry out public opinion surveys and push it to the policy makers as an instrument for pointing out to them what the people really want? (5) Both in India and Pakistan there is a mass of people which only reads the vernacular press, so if you leave the Urdu press in Pakistan and the regional press in India out of this discourse, the job is not even half-done.

Dr. Navnita Chadha Behera

Q. What should be the role of the Ministry of Information in India and Pakistan, now [1997]  that both the countries are eminently enjoying democracy?

Mr. Basheer Khan

Mr. Chengappa: Combining the [Wing Commander Farooqui’s] question about India’s aspirations for becoming a world power and Navnita’s reference to media survey of public opinion, I would like to say that as someone working in the newspaper that carried such a survey, we found that 75% of the people, surprisingly, said that they wanted India to keep its option of nuclear bomb open – even though some of them said that if America agrees to do the same, and if Pakistan also agrees, then we should also go. Apart from the survey, we also took our own stand in a number of articles pointing out the inconsistency in India’s own policy on the subject. I think it is the role of the press to take a stand. After that, it is the people or the people in power who will decide whether the stand was right or wrong.

Mr. Khaled Ahmed: I don’t think the news in the free channels of India are free, especially in the realm of foreign policy. Their coverage on Kashmir began all right and then declined into a partisan coverage. I don’t think it will correct itself unless these channels are able to earn something from Pakistan. I have said it many times, and I will say it again, that freedom in the media and in the press is connected with market. Unfortunately payments [from India and Pakistan and vice versa] take a very long time. Someone who is idealistic will have to take into account the function of the free market; how will the market overcome this? [As regards the state controlled media] I think the problem with Arabic and Sanskrit is there but there is so much else that is understood but it is totally counter-productive: it is a proxy war and no communication, because communication means that you get to the other side and persuade the other side. A very horrendous observation is that down to the level of tehsil there are Indian films on cassettes. [Given the fact that] we are the biggest ethnic cleansers [as shown by what happened on both sides of the border in 1947] these films have not changed our attitudes and made us friends. The only result can be that the next time we will rape more Indian women, and the other way round.

Q. Media reflects the social attitudes of the people. If our media is interested in disaster stories then there is a certain section of our society that it is catering to. How are we going to change the media in this context of social attitudes?

Aftab Ahmed

Q. We need to redefine the word responsibility to reach a middle ground so that it would not be taken as propaganda either by the liberal or the conservative side of the society, because both sides are part of the civil society – both sides, I think, shy away from the views of the other side.

Pervaiz Mohsin

Q. Remembering the 1960’s, when there was a complete black-out about India in the Pakistani media, I think the much-despised Indian films have done some job of breaking ice, and now the satellite channels are also going some way towards that.

Q. The question is whether the media is going to take the leadership role or is it going to depend entirely on public opinion for its support?

Mr. Karamat Ali: I don’t see the media in India or Pakistan providing you the space. You have to fight for it. When we speak of civil society it is a very vague concept. People are divided into classes and groups. The media has to look at them and acknowledge their struggle. In 1982 there was a struggle going on in a factory whose owner was an advisor to Gen. Zia-ul-Haque but had not cleared the dues of the workers for months. As the Eid was approaching, we decided to give a paid advertisement in Daily Jang. The newspaper took the money but the advertisement did not appear. When we called them, they said they cannot print the advertisement and returned our money. We went to two more newspapers and they did the same. Only the editor of the third newspaper, Amn, gave us the reason. He said; "We get three half-page advertisements from this firm every week. If you could get me one, I will print this." Of course we could not.

We have to focus: which sections of the civil societies in India and Pakistan have common goals. Only those classes in both the societies who are at present the victims of this violence are the ones who have a stake in a lasting peace and stable relations. For instance the new agenda of the free market wants a working class whose hands are tied and who have no rights, as this imperative under the new World Trade Organisation. Therefore we have to look for real basis for creating and re-structuring the civil society.

[Regarding the survey conducted in India] how did you get this 70% response to the option of an atomic explosion? What did the people, who said yes, really know about an atomic explosion? Did you show them pictures of Hiroshema? I am sure if you had told them what will happen if a nuclear bomb explodes on Lahore or Delhi then they would not have said things like ‘yes, we should go on with the atomic explosion.’ This is how you manage public opinion – you manipulate this public opinion and then present it as something that is forming a barrier against better relations. No media, I think will do anything that will harm its economic interests – that is the first thing, and that is what the free market teaches us.

There are very few positive aspects to what is free market and what it can do – but there are severe limitations. It has to be through common interests that people can come together.

Mr. Khaled Ahmed: Public opinion surveys are very, very deceptive. Amitabh Mattu in India carried a survey on nuclear bomb, called "who are you afraid of." The state doctrine in India is that it is the Chinese bomb that they are afraid of, but the survey revealed that the people feared the Pakistani bomb. But if that is the case then India should sign NPT and CTPT and be free of the fear of the Pakistani bomb – because Pakistan has said that if you sign then we shall sign too. So, in my view public opinions are very, very deceptive.

Mr. Karamat Ali: No democratic government in the world has a ministry of Information and Broadcasting. What they have are autonomous corporations, like BBC. The only purpose of the ministry of information and broadcasting is to control the information and they are notorious for twisting arms through their grants of advertisements.

Mr. Rehman: As to the question, what can be done [about the media] I have two answers. One, all who claim to be a part of the civil society have to learn what the modern technology is offering them. If they equip themselves with that then they will be able to project themselves better, they will be able to create space with the media. The second point I was offering was that there has to be a dialogue between the people and the media managers. Because the media managers have their own priorities and all of them are not determined by the social reality. Whether the media should take a report by the intelligence bureau about a person interviewed in captivity. Does that reflect the social attitude? No. Pakistan has been branded all over the world as a fundamentalist society, which we are not. Pakistan is not even a religious society. It is a secular society. [Then] who is projecting [that] image. What I mean to say is that it will be for the civil society to equip and manage its own information systems and not necessarily be influenced by the state media.

Mr. Chengappa: As regards to the question what will happen to the print media in view of the invasion of the electronic technology. What the television does is that it whets your appetite for more news – as in the case of the Princess Diana accident, you didn’t stop reading newspapers and magazines for more information. Secondly, the television has a tendency to immediate, quick sound-bites, which very difficult for people to understand and analyse.

The other thing is about attitudes and images and we talked about the difficulty of saying which survey is right, which opinion is sane. I think we need to keep on doing that. That is one thing, and secondly, during these Fifty Year Celebrations we talked to people about what happened [in 1947]: the killings, the rapes. These are old wounds, our generation hasn’t read much about it. And for me, I must confess, after reading all those things from both sides I had to hang my head in shame. Because I didn’t think that our people could do that to each other. Now, some would say that by talking about these old wounds you are again giving fuel to those amber but I think we all should think how we could do these things to each other, and probably learn from them.

Next Session


Source: The Role Of Civil Society in Pakistan and India:
Peace, Conflict Resolution, Democracy: Procedings of the seminar
by Jang Group of Newspapers (Pakistan) & Friedrich/Naumann Foundation (Germany).
Edited by Khurram Ali Shafique and Farida Z. Hemani


Back to Top

Search the Republic of Rumi
 
Page Hits | Visitors BACK | HOME | CONTACT