Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) made a promise in its manifesto that after coming into power its government would develop a national media strategy to encourage inter-provincial harmony through special programs.
Media is not only about entertainment. In fact of all the elements of national power, media is perhaps more potent because of its versatility. Its reach and penetration ability to access people from across the board makes it the best tool to form public opinion and to promote national interest including the security interests. In Pakistan media has progressed manifold during the last ten years. Initially the media was left on its own. And unfortunately, the tradition established in those times has become difficult for the government as well as the media professionals to get away with. However many policies concerning media management has been evolved both by the government and the media houses to order the system. Betterment is visible and more refinement should be expected depending how sincerely journalistic values are adhered to. As long as quality of new programs are concerned things are moving in the right direction. However, the content and the intent of media houses have hampered what is called objective journalism to evolve. One can easily tell which media outlet is pandering to whose agenda. The result is that most of what we are presenting on screen especially is not for social and political cohesion. It is more a divisional policy in pursuit, which can severely hamper national power. In this context the promise made by the PML-N to encourage interprovincial harmony through special programmes could have been a difficult chore. However, apparently it also shows that the government has made little effort in this regard, given the power, to make its promise come true.
Governments should use media for the promotion of peace, and change the viewpoints that could alter public views and sentiment toward a more peaceful resolution. It is the job of media to promote peace initiatives, support individuals and groups who are involved in the peace process. It is the job of media to highlight the good and suppress and correct the bad. Media must play its role in building a spiritual common ground and in harmony expand cross-cultural education. Sindhi should be exposed to the culture of Punjab and the Balochistan should be introduced to the culture of Kashmir. That is how we can create a more tolerant society and only a tolerant society is a peaceful society. People to people communication and interaction is also very important this will decrease tensions and help new generation understand globalization and the continuously evolving environment and need for collaboration and cooperation. Pakistan is a culturally, racially, linguistically and religious heterogeneous country. For a prosperous and peaceful society it is indispensible to create harmonious cultures. Any programme to encourage interprovincial harmony is beneficial for the success of the federation of Pakistan.
Musadaq Malik, spokesman of PML-N said that it was during the tenure of his party that there had been marked decrease in ethnic and sectarian violence that had previously deteriorated peace in the country. “As far as developing media policy for provincial harmony is concerned we are moving in that direction in the sense that we have controlled airing of many such content that could foment interprovincial rivalry.” he said. Adding further he said that it curtailing hate-speech was also part of creating harmony among the different federating units of the country. He further added that media was still evolving and it would take time for it to become a platform that unites rather than divides the nation.
Shehla Raza, the Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly, recalled the achievements of the PPP-led government, saying that the party succeeded in resolving many major national and provincial issues through the 18th and 19th constitutional amendments. She further added that besides evolving a consensus among provinces on the NFC Award, PPP did not let provincial difference become cause of conflict. Elaborating her point she said: “All this was made possible because a democratically elected government was in place and politicians were able to highlight the real issues. The public representatives sat together and sorted out the issues with full support from the masses.” Ms Raza explained that that when democracy becomes a practice then political awareness among the massed becomes easier to inculcate. She said that the PPP created this awareness in the people who otherwise had been hoodwinked by the so-called politicians planted and pampered by the establishment in the past.
Talking about PML-N government’s promise she said the present government did not have the will to bring inclusive democracy, therefore, no effort had been made in the last almost five years to promote interprovincial harmony. Media she said was the right platform to create social and political harmony and every party should make a good use of it.
Prof Azadi Burfat, from Karachi University, said that cultural diversity was beauty of Pakistan. Issues among the people emerged in diversity and she stressed that harmony amongst the federating units need of hour for the progress of country. She said that our media was losing neutrality and if this trend continued for four to five years it would lose its credibility, which would be devastating for the development of society and deprive people of nation building institution.
She said that it was the responsibility media to give equal importance to issues and problems of every city and part of country and added that mainstream media only focus on Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for ratings. She said that media was creating hype and fear. We scared even to visit our own cities Peshawar and Quetta however, when we visit these cities people were living normal life and asked about Karachi’s law and order.
“Governments should use media as the tool to promote interprovincial harmony.”
PML-N has compromised on its promise of using media to promote interprovincial harmony.