There were many column published in west against the media attitude after the assination on Salmaan Taseer some columns are here:
Extremists hijack Pakistani talk shows
Last Updated: Jan 14, 2011
ISLAMABAD // The assassination of the liberal governor of Punjab province earlier this month has ignited a debate over whether Pakistan's boisterous television news networks are helping foment social and religious intolerance.
The networks heatedly debated the controversial blasphemy law that Salman Taseer opposed before he was shot dead by one of his own security guards.
Critics say popular conservative and religious talk show hosts who vehemently oppose any changes in the law took extreme positions that allowed little room for dialogue with progressive voices.
On Tuesday, the watchdog Electronic Media Regulatory Authority imposed fines of one million rupees (Dh43,000) each on Samaa TV and WAQT TV for "projecting terrorists, showing blood and gore" after the networks broadcast an interview with Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the confessed and apparently unrepentant assassin.
"What was once considered to be the lunatic fringe has now become the new mainstream - and the electronic media reflects this new mainstream," said Nadeem Farooq Paracha, a culture critic and columnist for the Dawn newspaper.
Mr Paracha traces the roots of the growing influence of the right-wing on mainstream news networks to the Urdu media, especially newspapers, which have traditionally been conservative and anti-western.
As the news networks mushroomed, many journalists from small, right-wing Urdu newspapers joined television stations as anchors and analysts and have hijacked the discourse, he said.
Intense competition in the electronic media is also a major factor for the shifting tone, liberals say.
They cite the example of Meher Bokhari, a popular talk show host on Samaa TV, who surprised many when she interviewed Taseer in December and alleged - much to the governor's bafflement and chagrin - that he was kowtowing to a "pro-western agenda" for having vigorously taken up the cause of a poor Christian farm worker who had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.
Ms Bokhari, who often appears in her shows wearing western suits and shouts down guests who disagree with her, had previously been known for her moderate views.
"It is really inexplicable what has happened to her," said Fasi Zaka, a columnist for the Express Tribune daily. "She editorialises before the conversation begins and then goes into the programme.
"The only explanation can be that it is the ratings game," he continued. "TV channels and talk show hosts think that unless you raise your voice and generate a conflict, you won't get an audience. Even the new entrants, like Meher Bokhari, now know that to make it big on TV, they have to follow the same right-wing narrative."
Some critics suggest there may also be another reason for Ms Bokhari's newfound conservatism - she was recently savagely denounced by Islamists over pictures that surfaced on the internet of her drinking alcohol with American officials at a party in
Mr Zaka also worries that the talk show hosts are feeding off each other.
In a comment piece in the Express Tribune earlier this month, he noted that if "Meher Bokhari nods her head in approval when someone describes Malik Mumtaz Qadri on the just side of morality, if Hamid Mir and Javed Chaudhry suggest that Salmaan Taseer brought it upon himself, it feeds the monster further", referring to two other popular talk show hosts.
Until recently, the news networks were being hailed as the driving force for reform in
In 2007, as the then-president Pervez Musharraf became hugely unpopular, they joined forces with opposition political parties and lawyers to defy the regime.
As protesting lawyers took on the regime on the streets and in the corridors of the Supreme Court, political talk shows and their hosts drew millions of viewers.
Analysts say the media inculcated a new political awareness in the public, reflected in the 2008 elections when politicians allied with Mr Musharraf were routed.
Now the same television networks are being criticized for their coverage of the blasphemy law. Anchors are being accused of bias and distorting or misrepresenting the stance of the slain governor and the few others who dared to speak against it.
Not everyone agrees that the news networks have capitulated, however.
Talat Hussain, a journalist and himself a host of a popular talk show, said liberals were refusing to appear on shows to discuss the blasphemy law.
"I try to do a fairly balanced show. But the problem we faced was the complete absence of thoughtful liberal voices. Obviously, this led to a vacuum, which was filled by inane analysis and right-wing opinion makers."
He added: "The majority of the people is neither left or right."
On the blasphemy issue, however, Pakistanis were "in favour of the Islamists."
Mr Hussain noted that the public widely supported the military action against Islamic militants in Swat.
He blamed the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party for dithering over whether to amend or repeal the blasphemy law.
"If the government is seen on the retreat, then obviously the mullah on the street would have a field day. If the state asserts itself, people would swing its way."
The world was shocked earlier this month with the assassination of a progressive Pakistani politician. More disturbing than the murder of Salman Taseer – at the hands of his own bodyguard – is the reaction it provoked from a large segment of the Pakistani public.
Lawyers greeted the bodyguard in court by showering him with rose petals, pleased that he had killed a man who had dared to criticize the country’s anti-blasphemy law. Thousands of Pakistanis marched in support of the assassin’s actions and in support of the anti-blasphemy law that allows people to be put to death if they’re accused of criticizing the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
The reaction differs dramatically from the recent assassination attempt in the
in which a gunman tried to kill a congresswoman and succeeded in murdering six others. Despite what some call a “hate-filled” sphere of public discourse, everyone in the United States widely denounced the gunman’s actions. United States
At least some of the difference can be attributed to the role of the mass media. As detailed in a well-researched article by journalist , the media in
has increasingly aired the extreme views surrounding the blasphemy laws and allowed no room for dialogue with people who advocated tolerance. Pakistan
After the assassination, a popular talk show host, Meher Bokhari, nodded in agreement with a guest who explained that the bodyguard acted justly given the slain governor’s views. And other talk show hosts, such as Hamid Mir and Javed Chaudhry, said that Taseer brought his death upon himself.
These views are abhorrent. No one deserves to die for expressing a political belief (e.g., that a blasphemy law should be revised). In most societies, such a view would be rightly seen as a fringe belief. The media portrayal of the respectability of these beliefs helps explain why so many Pakistanis support the actions of Taseer’s killer.
Communication researchers have seen these media effects at play in other cultures with totally different outcomes. Researchers developed “cultivation theory” to explain the behavior seen in the
. Cultivation theory holds that exposure to television messages can cultivate homogenous views, an outcome called “mainstreaming.” United States
The effect can lead to positive developments for a society. Since the 1970s, the mass media in the
have peppered their news media and programming with subtle messages of tolerance, particularly of other races. At the same time, polls have shown a steady decline in racist beliefs and opposition to interracial marriage. The results of the 2008 elections were rather stunning as well. United States
But, cultivation can lead to negative effects as well. Researchers have found that audiences who watch a lot of crime shows tend to suffer from “Mean World Syndrome” – an incorrect belief that the world is more violent than in reality. In this sense, the media can help to shape reality for its audience.
, the cultivation effect appears to be leading to a reality that is damaging its society. The nation is suffering from the “mainstreaming” of extremist messages. But, the media are not merely reflecting these extremist beliefs. They are helping to make these beliefs acceptable – homogenizing them for the masses. Pakistan
The government of
fined two television stations for showing an interview with the unrepentant assassin. This is a step in the right direction. But, the interview could have produced some good – as long as the beliefs of the assassin were properly debunked and ridiculed. Apparently, the stations merely gave the assassin a forum to explain the morality of his actions. For the news media to produce this type of message only helps “mainstream” the message that violence is an appropriate response to unpopular speech. Pakistan
The government and media producers should place more emphasis on making sure the media find voices of tolerance who declare unequivocally that murdering someone for the political belief is wrong. They should also emphasize finding media programming (dramas and comedies) that inculcate their shows with messages of toleration and understanding.
Of course, in the wake of Taseer’s murder, finding these voices of moderation – and making them the new mainstream – will prove to be quite difficult.
also the letter whih was written by Congress men to Hillary Clinton is here