Media, how you misrepresent Pakistan is not 'epic'!

Little did I know that one day I would be at the receiving end of media manipulation...

Numair Shahzada August 26, 2012
I was always told to take the media’s portrayal of local happenings with a very large pinch of salt. My grandfather was a wise man, and time and time again stressed,
Beta, all they want is to increase ratings. They don’t care about getting the facts straight.”

I remember distinctively the disgust many of us felt when after the Bhoja plane crash, reporters swarmed like vultures at the scene and poked their cameras in grieving family members' faces and asked,
App ko kaisa feel ho ra hai?

(How do you feel about what’s happened here?)

Little did I know at the time that one day, I would, too, be at the receiving end of such media manipulation.

Quite recently, I received a phone call from a close friend, Adil Omar, asking me to stop by at Mocha Coffee where he was being interviewed by a Reuters journalist regarding his music. I was hesitant at first to speak before the media, but in support of Adil's music, I stopped by.

Adil and I, as usual, got into a heated discussion about music, religion and extremism, but time and time again insisted upon the journalist that our off-the-record conversations be kept that way. She assured us that she was writing a light piece on music and parties in Islamabad and she would only quote us on what we allowed.

We gave a few neutral quotes and left assuming the best.

Weeks later, we were appalled by her published work. The written piece not only draws in the reader's mind an image of a disgusting, hidden, untamed world, but these visions are run in parallel to the Islamic nature of our country.

She is clearly trying to depict Pakistan as a confused country of two strong extremes.

The quote I gave had been strategically placed in a manner that made me look like a sketchy, intoxicated fool standing outside a party. I did not meet her at a party and I most definitely was not 'bobbing my head' in any direction. My jaw dropped in disbelief at the sight of such lies.

I am grateful that the people of our nation are prepared to stand against such incorrect media portrayals and I have been able to clear my name to some extent. But if it wasn’t for the controversy that this written work stirred up, my future could have been in jeopardy.

The first thing a potential employer does is search your name on Google. Anyone compiling research on me would be led to believe I am some blubbering, high idiot. Why such blatant disregard for others? Is this really what we should expect from Reuters?

The writer has not only risked damaging my reputation but that of others as well. Adil Omar has been depicted as a young rebel wearing baggy pants with tattoos of half-naked women on his arms and a questionable take on religious matters. Adil is actually one of the most intellectually mature people I have met who has high respect for Islam and religious beliefs. Not one mention has been made in this article on the manner with which the youth of this nation can relate to his music. We were led to believe this article was on the power of sound, the voices of free people, and the emotions the few who want change can invoke in the masses.

God only knows if the other people mentioned in the article actually exist or not. Most of the information provided here seems to be based on made up facts. The party in the image attached to the article was a recently held rave in Islamabad. The journalist in question was not even present at the event and it really wasn't this tacky.

What was the point of mentioning Taliban leaders and Zia’s regime in her post?

Does she want me to get knocked off?

Now any internet-savvy extremist knows I am one of the people who are not afraid to express themselves and live the way I choose to. In fact I dream of a day when Pakistan will return to its former glory, before the 80s, when people of every class, colour and religion would meet publicly and have a good time. I hope the ‘underground party scene’ spreads down to the middle classes and there is revolution!

I want to see the image of Pakistan that Nadeem F Paracha talks about; a Pakistan that wants to prosper and believes in the principle that is "to live and let live", instead of feeding off making a mockery out of its countrymen.

Follow Numair on Twitter @NumairShahzada
Numair Shahzada Based in Islamabad, Numair works in the technology sector as a marketing specialist. A part time dog trainer with a passion for cars, he tweets @NumairShahzada
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


tania | 11 years ago | Reply I just came across this piece and honestly spking, did not find the original article by a Reuters journalist misleading. Lets be honest with ourselves. Yes we are a confused nation where on one hand women are killed in the name of honor and on the other the liberals live to party. the ones left in the middle dont know where they fit. That, i feel, is what the article was about. Concerning your reservations about her misrepresenting you, that is unethical journalism for sure. but then dont journalists do that? To get their story through any means. I am not trying to label people but we belong to a country where (unfortunately) journalists are bribed, blackmailed, tortured and killed for writing facts. I do understand we have to start somewhere to end unethical and unfair journalistic practices but we are a long from there.
Nobody | 11 years ago | Reply @Amit: With respect to your opinion, I don't think the author is necessarily trying to avoid seeming westernized or liberal in a conservative society, rather trying to get the truth out. If someone misrepresented you with misleading half-truths how would you feel? I'm a bit invested in this because I can relate to the author; I've been in a situation similar to the author and it pi**ed me off. As a young woman, I naturally like to party on occasion and while I don't care if the TRUTH comes out to people, I'd be ticked if someone represented me as something way off base. Ex. I was smoking a joint, not shooting up heroin. Anyways, I'm rambling (again). Cheers!
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