Pakistani media need to realize its responsibilities

Pakistani media need to realize its responsibilities

The role of media is central to the functioning of democracy.
Earlier, the press was the only medium. Today it is but one component of an array of conduits through which information flows. If media is to serve the public interest, it is vital to realize the magnitude of its responsibility.
Sadly this is not so in Pakistan where the men and women who run media are failing to pass muster.
When we look at what goes wrong in Pakistan today, we see multiple manifestations of failure, which are clear symptoms of a failing state: Insurgency and military conflict, unchecked terrorist attacks, killings and abductions of civilians in many cities, unemployment, hopelessness, desperation, suicides and a shocking absence of the writ of government, the list is longer.
Yet, the disease is relatively simple to diagnose. In all successful democratic states, the best and the most competent of citizens compete in politics. It is these people, mostly a creamy lot, who are elected to become parliamentarians and shapers of their people’s destiny.
In Pakistan, the exact opposite is true: The most incompetent, corrupt and morally bankrupt generally compete in politics. These people, who by no means are the creamy layer of our society, are elected to the assemblies and shape our destiny.
It therefore should not come as a surprise if Pakistan is crumbling, slowly but surely?
Needless to say then that Pakistan will not survive if such people continue be at the helm. Things won’t not change until decent, competent, sincere, educated and honest Pakistanis take the mantle of the country’s political affairs in their hands. This elite and educated segment of our society has been unfortunately unwilling or unable to participate in politics. Their absence has created a political vacuum that is being happily filled by the traditional lot, which has inevitably brought us to the current perilous situation.
History however does not stand still. Pakistan’s political structure is changing. The feudals have been weakened over time. Their landholdings have been fragmented by inheritance. Urbanization has brought rural youth to the cities and has made them aware of their responsibilities. The impact of satellite and cable TV extends to the remotest of villages. People are awakening. Change is at the doorstep. What we, all of us, now need to do is to convince the people that they have it in their power to shape their destiny. The media in Pakistan has a crucial role to play.
The media broadcasts hours and hours of output featuring the ‘usual culprits’: Our corrupt and incompetent politicians. Your smug anchors find gratification in having these already challenged people utter inanities and spew venom on their equally inane rivals.
And what service do the journalists render the people of Pakistan in broadcasting these programs day after day? Do they enlighten them? Do they inform them? Do they give them any hope?
Media houses are obliged by the license agreements to dedicate 10 minutes of every broadcast hour to social service messages. Not one of the hundred plus channels does this. Why do they not use this time to educate people about the need for children to take polio drops, about driving safe, about good civic behavior, and about so much else that responsible citizens must know?
The media persons will have to rise above all of this. Time is running out. Too much is at stake. Media in Pakistan cannot continue to behave like this. There are people now working to change things. They are in government, in the private sector and in obscure political parties.
They need to identify them and then present them to their readers and viewers. They need to churn out intelligent and sensible debates on relevant issues.
They need to instil hope in the society. Those who are doing best for the society and the nation in general are needed to be heard. Media can do this and those engaged in this noble profession are uniquely placed to make this possible. Or else, media may continue to fiddle while "Rome is burning."
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view