Media Projection Of Pakistan
In the year 2002, the media industry of Pakistan was allowed to operate private channels permitting them to present their own content through news and various programs addressing current affairs. Sixteen years on, we have an influx of different media houses, channels and social network companies showcasing digital media. Mobile phones and the internet have made news and entertainment accessible to our finger tips. Technology consumed us all, and the access to all, consumed our sensibilities and pushed us to have opinions. This is what I deem as the positive impact of free media and information technology.
Now taking this in perspective of Pakistan exclusively, the media has gained immense power over the years. People watch news channels 24/7 to follow current affairs, they are exposed to a plethora of dramas, newspaper articles and the medium of internet also feeds them with visuals, written and spoken news, debates and talk shows. This incursion of news, and sharing of ideas and opinions should have clearly educated us as a nation, owing to the very responsibility of media, educating and informing the people. And this is where I want to pose a pertinent question,
“Did Pakistani media succeed in educating us as progressive, informed and educated human beings?”
I do acknowledge the fact that thanks to media today, almost every Pakistani has an opinion, and engages the voice at different platforms, unlike the Pakistan of yester years. While I share the ideals of the true spirit of education, I’d like to focus on Pakistani television in particular. Reason being that I strongly feel that despite the popularity, it doesn’t take on the positive role that it can play in educating the mindset of an eager to learn nation of people looking for answers.
The news that comes through television the whole day either talks about failure or probability to fail. National news is all about streets flooded due to rain, abuse, honor killing, drowning, unauthorized possession of property, suicide, accidents, theft and crime. And as soon as we shift to international news, it is about innovation, beauty of nature, talented children and individuals, amazing rescues or love for celebrations and culture.
Doesn’t this continuous transmission of bad news bring the nation down? Is there no innovation happening in Pakistan? Does Pakistan have no scenic beauty to project to the world? Are the children in our schools and universities not making their mark in the world? Is it not important to present the colors of our rich culture? Don’t we have women breaking stereotypes? Ofcourse we do. But, all of these positive stories will be running on Facebook, Twitter and individuals will be sharing these success stories personally on their accounts. I believe good news should have an equal share of projection on television as it boosts the nation’s pride in self and gives people hope. The nation deserves an injection of optimism.
Furthermore, if you decide to entertain yourself picking from the dramas running with repeat telecast, you will see that they do not encompass the spirit of a Bilquis Edhi, Muniba Mazari, Sana Mir, Laraib Khelvi, Ayesha Farooq, or Arfa Karim, just to name a few. They depict our women as helpless, robbed of their integrity, limited to making their homes and defining honor and dignity in rigid lines. It’s all black or white. There is no space for an alternative definition to ‘Sharafat’ and ‘Izzat’. Titles of these dramas depict our mindset so strongly. ‘Tohmat’, ‘Badnaam’, ‘Naik Parvin’, ‘Chup Raho’, ‘Be Rehm’, ‘Khalish’, ‘Baydardi’, ‘Khasara’, ‘Dard ka Rishta’, Akhri Baarish’, Beti Jaisee’ and ‘Becharee Nadia’! While we have one of the best drama industries in the world, our women need stronger roles. We need to promote and encourage women as decision makers, holding a choice, presenting strong opinions, exploring the world, succeeding as entrepreneurs, taking risks, asking questions and being adventurous. Mistakes and failures need not be gender affiliated. I haven’t seen one drama yet that depicts the soft male image that is evolving through our generation of men who are ready to cook, care and participate in house chores. And if they are seen supporting the woman, it is reflected as a weakness.
Reflecting back to PTV, growing up I remember watching cartoons, kids’ drama serials and educative programs. This was decades ago. Today, there are no programs for children. No body wants to educate our future generation about their rights and responsibilities. Education, is given no priority on television. We have abandoned our puppet shows, education serials and musical shows. It will not be wrong to state that this is the media’s gravest crime today, ignorance of grooming the future of Pakistan, and I sincerely hope to see this change in the changing Pakistan.
And now the last blow comes with our morning shows. Once aiming to focus on health, nutrition and exercise, today, morning shows are extravagant sets with hosts belittling the IQ of our people, targeting women especially. We see seemingly intelligent women and men talking to a paid audience and selling to their viewers a mediocre thought or idea. Segments of the show offer no growth through information or interaction and it’s frustrating to sit through the fake weddings and repetitive celebrity dance steps. Morning shows across the globe aim at educating the people sharing books and authors, promoting entrepreneurship through opportunities and celebrating real life heroes making a difference in the world.
The Projection of Pakistan across the globe, in my opinion, isn’t a real one. Yes, we have much to work with, but we all love our country and know the potential that truly defines its ability to keep moving forward. Yes, we have moved up, but has our media educated us to be progressive? Has the information also made us more accepting and tolerant of the other opinion? Are we better human beings today? I leave these questions up to you.
It’s a blessing to see and know that there are many individuals, organizations and platforms that are streaming hope and optimism in our society and country, and care to share the success stories through social media network. However, this must be a priority with the media that runs the country’s narrative and is viewed by not just Pakistanis, but every other country in the world. A formal campaign should be launched to unveil our innovators, reveal the landscape that is rich in resources with its scenic beauty, and promote Pakistan as a nation of caring human beings.
By Shama Noman