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.
Information dissemination and
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)
S. V. Raju (India)
Quotes from the
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
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
The frontiers can be softened only by more
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 wont 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
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
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
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 peoples
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
. 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 wasnt 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 medias 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
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 its no better in India.
What do the Kashmiris want?
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 cant 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 its
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:
- "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.
- "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.
- "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:
- Both India and Pakistan have privately-owned
press. In Pakistan, the elite owns the press as a part of the
establishment. We dont have any papers under State Control.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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 Chompskis 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
- The whole issue of militarization and especially nuclearization
is a victim of self-imposed censorship. Nobody can challenge
the established views on these issues.
- 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 dont
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
We survived censorship because, thank God,
the governments have never been so efficient as to stop people
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
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. Rehmans
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 wasnt 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 medias 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
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
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."
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. Khaleds 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 doesnt 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  that both
the countries are eminently enjoying democracy?
Mr. Basheer Khan
Mr. Chengappa: Combining
the [Wing Commander Farooquis] question about Indias
aspirations for becoming a world power and Navnitas 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 Indias 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 dont 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 dont
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?
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
Q. Remembering the 1960s,
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 dont 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
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 didnt 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 hasnt 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 didnt 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.
Source: The Role Of Civil Society in Pakistan
Peace, Conflict Resolution, Democracy: Procedings of the seminar
by Jang Group of Newspapers (Pakistan) & Friedrich/Naumann
Edited by Khurram Ali Shafique and Farida Z. Hemani
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