TV coverage of PNS Mehran attack

Did the media really have to give out the classified description of sensitive military installations?

Samia Malik May 25, 2011
The standoff at the naval base on Sunday night excited the electronic media so much that in a bid to give as complete and precise information to the viewers as possible our presenters forgot that the areas they were talking about were all sensitive military installations and as such classified for outsiders.

Karachi’s citizens who were obviously the affected population knew full well where exactly the base is located, and did not need to know what lies inside. All that was needed was information about the casualties, the number of people affected, hostages, the intensity of the fight, and the nitty-gritty. Information such as the map of the base, areas surrounding it, linking paths and details about the aircraft and weapons inside as well as the activity of the base needed to be concealed as it would have aided the terrorists inside had they been relying on help from their backers from outside the field of attack.

As a civilian I got to know that there is a runway that runs parallel to Shahra-e-Faisal, that there are foreigners working inside the base and that the PAF and the Mehran base are highly sensitive areas with huge military installations. Of course it was common sense before, but these verifications from a source as reliable as the media that even showed the footage of the area could have provided any potential terrorist a lot of knowledge.

At times the information explosion is so bad that we get different channels reporting different facts. It seems in broadcasting the reporters do not need a source to quote. They will just relay whatever they see and perceive it as. In the case of this navy base assault alone, we were caught up in a swirl of rumours even as reporters were on ground whose job it was to give us precise facts instead of what a common man may speculate from just seeing the situation.

This particularly applies to television channel reporters as they mostly tend to rush with whatever little and often unverified information they receive in a bid to break the news. On the other hand the print reporters get enough time for accurately checking the facts before they file their stories. I know our public has now become very demanding where news is concerned, but our reporters and their supervisors need to be just a little more careful and responsible at times like these.
Samia Malik The writer reports for the city desk of The Express Tribune and has interests in human rights, international and strategic relations, changing social cultures and public speaking. She is also a radio news anchor now doing story packages and news-reads for FM 105.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Nawazish Ali | 12 years ago | Reply Media appeared on the wizard of society as a sole competitor. With the opening of a chapter of media freedom in Pakistan it was restrained by a dictator but after the restoration of democracy and freedom of speech the media mammoth got a quantum speed. It was a better move but unfortunately Pakistan media failed to set priorities to reshape the society that was split in many school of thoughts. Lack of media ethics and code and conduct also played a vital role in betrayal of media. After setting its hegemony a specific section of media assumed the leading role which ultimately took the shape of king maker. Devoid of ethics and boundaries media mongers with incorporated interests added fuel into already religion, cast, creed and faith based divided society. It played a critical role in inciting violence against certain schools of thoughts by promoting extremism and dogmatism. The backdoor meetings of some media pundits with extremist elements very much substantiate the mindset of media mongers in spreading violence. Whatever the objectivity of media was, it proved fatal for the already suffering society of Pakistan.
Gulzar Hameed | 12 years ago | Reply More than newspapers, news television knows the popular mind. This is because it responds to daily ratings and can calibrate pitch and tone accordingly. What appears on their television should worry secular Pakistanis. In what other nation would Zaid Hamid be an analyst?Of all the journalists on Urdu television, Hamid Mir is boring because of his constant heroic references to himself. His selection of guests tends to be poor: Either politicians who are bullied or people like Ansar Abbasi who can introduce gloom to the most joyous evening. Sullen Ansar Abbasi represents the Urdu mindset of Pakistanis in the English press. He is angry (see his views on flogging girls and on blasphemy) and is out of place in English journalism, which is naturally liberal. This group is more tilted towards right wing mindset. Most of the Geo anchorpersons following the policy seem resilient towards India while at the same time negate the extremist mindset to destroy neighboring country but on the other hand the same anchors lot, appear to endorse the brutal when they attack the innocent Pakistanis.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ