KARACHI: At a consultative meeting on ‘Citizens’ Role in Strengthening Democratic Media’, Society for Alternative Media and Research executive director Mazhar Arif asked what citizens should do if media ignores their rights. According to him, a lot of this depends on the people’s trust on the information they receive.
The meeting was held on Wednesday and participants from different media houses discussed the ways in which people can strengthen the role of media as a democratic instrument. “It weakens democracy if citizens don’t trust the information they are getting,” said Arif. Talking about media regulation and freedom of speech, lawyer Faisal Siddiqi said that regulation will only be possible once it is known who is responsible for doing it. He further said that media is full of crime and there is no legal accountability for the violation of human dignity.
Talking about the same issue, Daily Awami Awaz‘s Dr Jabbar Khattak said that when it came to citizens, media has always been considered an unconstitutional entity. “In the current times, citizens’ right to free broadband internet should be implemented as practised in India.”
Meanwhile, former information minister Javed Jabbar discussed the recent World Press Freedom Index that ranks Pakistan on 159 among 180 countries. “Even Afghanistan ranks 15 places higher than Pakistan,” he said. “South Africa, that has the worst crime rate, is at 110. Surely, there are a few things in this index that should be redone.”
He also shared the proceedings of the ‘Report and Recommendations of The Media Commission‘ that contains 40 recommendations regarding policies, structures and improvement of laws in media. “Both the information ministry and the Supreme Court have agreed to 90 per cent of the recommendations made in the report,” he said. “But for the last one-and-a-half year, there has been no response by the government on its implementation.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2015.