A Letter from UK: The other face of Pakistani media in UK

London: “Is there something genetically fishy in Pakistanis?”

I am at a British media house chatting with journalist friends, most of them from Pakistan and India.

The question shocks me.

As I am struggling for words to respond to her, another colleague puts his hands on my shoulders.

Before I respond, the friend behind me asks her the reason for her comments.

She gets apologetic seeing my face red. “Please don’t be offended; I didn’t mean to humiliate anyone but the scenario and factual circumstances among Pakistani media houses and their workers in the UK have forced me to say this.”

She explained that several times across the UK representatives of Pakistani media houses fought each other over the issue of few GBP given to them by the host for publishing/broadcasting the news of an event.

As colleagues stare at me, I stand up and leave the room showing a cigarette, implying that I want to go out to smoke.

As I start moving towards the door, she calls me back.

“Listen, being journalists every day we heard stories about corruption of Pakistani politicians etc but can’t imagine that things are worst like this.”

Journalism and journalists involving Pakistan in the UK are not in good shape.

More than 100 Pakistanis call themselves journalists and are affiliated with different Pakistan-based media houses. They cover and report events and their organizations broadcast/publish their work without any second thought.

But amazingly more than 90 per cent of them are working without being paid a single penny from their organizations.

It is weird but true that the employees of the richest people are not being paid, some of the UK journalists said requesting anonymity.

They say the management do not have any problem with this because they are getting employees free of cost. They do not need to pay them any salary, holiday or sick pay or other perks and this is a severe violation of labour rules of the UK.

So, the media houses are happy with them and at the same time, they save taxes as well by using accountancy tricks.

One of the UK-based Pakistani journalists said, “We are getting money not from our employees but from the people who host events. People here earn huge money and now want fame so for their self-promotions they arrange events and parties and we get £50 each from them for coverage and broadcasting of their events. That’s not wrong because we are promoting them as a politician or social leaders of the community.”
Another journalist associated with one of the biggest media houses of Pakistan on requesting anonymity said, ‘Basically, by wielding a logo mic of any news channel or showing a press card we can make a good relationship with the Pakistani Missions in the UK. So, we help people in their matters with these missions and earn money because our organizations don’t pay us.”

One of them said, “The UK is considered the second homeland of Pakistani politicians, bureaucrats and business personalities but there is no protocol for them here. So, during their official or private visits, we cultivate good relationships with them. Later, while using this relationship we can fix several things in Pakistan and can get easy money. Furthermore, we can get lot of benefits from Pakistani authorities, so salary doesn’t matter for us.” He said even some of them were paying to channels for their logo mic.

Another fellow said that in the UK some of them purchased airtime and technical services from the news channels. Later, they bring two or three guests and arrange a talk show on any issue in which the guy becomes the host of the programme.

In fact, the three guests bear all expenses, including host’s fee for bringing them onto the screen and portraying them as political or community leaders or intellectuals of the UK society. Sometimes these types of shows create a very hilarious and embarrassing situation, he said.

Overseas correspondents of media houses are always considered to be the face of their country and community. So, across the world media houses always pick their best workers as overseas correspondents or hire the best from foreign countries. Unfortunately, Pakistani media houses are totally opposite to this strategy, at least in the UK. Most of the UK based Pakistani journalists even do not know the meaning of journalism, what to say of journalistic ethics. Many of them are even not able to write the script of their own news; for them, journalism is just standing in front of camera holding news channels’ logo mic or making sure their picture or video are captured with big fishes while holding logos.

That’s the reason not a single Pakistani media house representative is familiar in UK’s local journalist community except few who are associated with British media houses. On the other hand, they arrange big parties and become self-acclaimed award winners and always try to put themselves in race with South Asian media community.

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