Privacy issues and the media

Does the media have the right to report on the private lives of individuals who have a public role in society?

Anwer Sumra February 01, 2012
The role of the media regarding the matrimonial issues of politicians has received a mixed response in bureaucratic circles.

To witness such debate among bureaucrats on the role of the media, and how it covers the personal issues of politicians, is quite interesting. Some appear to discuss such rumours, including those on the secret marriages of some politicians, just to dilute the heat created by Memogate.

Some bureaucrats vehemently criticise the role of the media in bringing to light such things and say that this is done with an ulterior motive: to tarnish certain politicians who may be out of favour with a certain powerful vested interest. Those who hold such views say that the media should confine itself to reporting and commenting on national and international issues of public importance and should not bother itself about what politicians or other public figures do in private. They also say that in the past the media has chosen to leave untouched such matters, so why the interest now?

Two recent examples are cited in this regard. First is the case of Ayesha Ahad Malik who claims to be Hamza Shahbaz Sharif’s wife – but the Sharif family has accused her of making this up to taint their family’s name. The matter turned ugly after police were drawn in, because one of the parties happens to be in charge of the provincial government. Then there is the marriage of Dost Mohammad Khosa, a provincial minister, whose marriage to an actress came to light only after the media splashed the story.


The issue in general relates to that of privacy issues and whether the media has the right to report on the private lives of individuals who have a public role in society. This is an issue that is cause for much controversy and debate all over the world and even developed societies such as the United Kingdom and United States do not see this issue in a black-versus-white prism. However, what the media can do here, like elsewhere, is set up a code of conduct on this and related issues.
Anwer Sumra
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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