Of ringmasters and circuses
Pakistani political philosophy has been reduced to just televisions and newspapers. Technological advances in communication have ended political discourse from streets, neighborhoods and arenas to arguments on television shows and statements printed in newspapers.
The ubiquitous cell phones in our hands have brought breaking news, latest developments and statements to us in less time that we could have ever imagined.
In the fifteen years I have been associated with the news industry, I have watched times change, studied their effects and reviewed what I have learned. In the olden days, when the 9 o’clock news bulletin on PTV ended television time for the day, curbsides, drawing rooms, baithaks and deras came alive as political discussions extended long into the night. The discourse stemmed from personal experiences, anecdotal evidences and private studies. There was individuality; analysis was tinged with the hue of ethnic identity and cultural characteristics. An unwritten rule was respect for opposing views and differences of opinions.
All that changed when General (retd) Pervez Musharraf took over the country and gave permits to private television channels. A new phenomenon was introduced, i.e. the race for breaking news. From 8:00 pm till 10:00 pm, talk shows reigned supreme.
Our process of watching, analyzing and understanding news was changed completely. Lightning fast breaking news, analysis and reviews robbed us of our ability to think for ourselves. The ordinary man’s understanding of the system that governed his life went through a metamorphosis. How did this happen? Let us review.
Political reporting, which takes up a major chunk of news, requires a deep understanding of the topic and as complete information as can be provided. Once the news is out, follow ups require research, time and effort. But now, the basis of evaluating news channels is how fast they brought the news to the audience, how quickly they beat their competitors, how far ahead they are of their peers. Comprehensive and correct information is no longer the benchmark for analyzing content. Switch on any channel and asses how most of them present the occurrence of a development as complete news, not the facts, policies and ideas that are linked to it. Here too, sensationalism takes precedence over all else. Another factor are our political talk shows, presented mostly be people who have no experience of field reporting yet are called senior journalists. They take up pre-established positions and ignore real journalism.
This divide is now quite prominent. People switch on television only to watch the show that broadcasts views that their own preferences align with. Bereft of their own opinions, viewers have stopped discussing politics within their circles. The end result is low tolerance for opposing viewpoints and promotion of self-interest. A good talk show now is one where there is plenty of emotional argument, where matters escalate from disagreement to ferocious anger or even physical blows. On such nights, both the anchors and the producers of the shows expect high ratings.
And so, media now constitutes itself basically not on news but on presenting a riot for its viewers. The media is now a major player of this capitalistic system. Questions that must be asked are being ignored for the sake of remaining a power player. As for the anchors whose faces we see plastered on billboards and whose slick promos present alternate realities, well, their own lifestyles now have removed them very far from the life of an ordinary citizen. If you do not believe me, watch the circus. You’ll spot the ringmasters easily enough.
PM decides to include special projects in budget for merged districts of KP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif says the development of the people of merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the priority of the government.
Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday decided to include special development projects in the budget for the merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He was talking to Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Sajid Hussain Turi and MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Muhammad Jamaluddin in Islamabad on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister said development of the people of merged districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the priority of the government.
The delegation gave proposals vis-a-vis the budget for the development of merged districts.
The Prime Minister welcomed the suggestions and issued instructions to the relevant authorities to include them in the budget after consultations.
Zardari calls for stakeholders to unite on ‘charter of economy
The PPP co-chairman expresses the goal of raising foreign exchange reserves to $200 billion and encouraged Pakistani businessmen to form industrial groups and invest, assuring them of a guaranteed return on their investments.
Lahore: Former President and Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari, extended an invitation on Wednesday to all stakeholders to come together and discuss a "charter of economy" as the PPP regains political influence in Punjab.
Speaking at a ceremony organized by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on the charter of economy, Zardari emphasized the need for collective thinking and collaboration beyond individual interests. He clarified that he was not seeking monetary donations but rather the collective will, ideas, and energy to implement his vision for the future.
Zardari highlighted the PPP's previous governance, stating that his party's government had outperformed others in the past. He expressed the goal of raising foreign exchange reserves to $200 billion and encouraged Pakistani businessmen to form industrial groups and invest, assuring them of a guaranteed return on their investments.
Acknowledging the significance of the private sector in nation-building, Zardari stressed the need to alleviate the burden on common people by reducing tax rates. He emphasized that the economy should be viewed from a long-term perspective, serving future generations.
Zardari further emphasized the potential of increasing exports to $300 billion, which would overshadow concerns about defense spending. He cited PPP's achievements, such as constructing seven bridges in Sindh through public-private partnerships, as examples of successful initiatives.
Asserting that it is the duty of politicians to formulate policies rather than engage in business activities, Zardari urged stakeholders to take his policies forward for the betterment of the country. He questioned why attention had not been given to the development of Gwadar, emphasizing the need for proactive measures.
As political leaders continue to join the PPP, Zardari extended his stay in Lahore until June 12. It is anticipated that more leaders from Punjab will join the party in the coming days, further bolstering its strength in the region.
Army emphasizes to tighten 'Noose of Law' around May 9 ' planners, masterminds
The ISPR says the commanders have condemned the desecration of martyrs' monuments and Jinnah House, as well as the attacks on military installations.
Rawalpindi: The formation commanders of the Pakistan Army convened on Wednesday and emphasized the need to tighten the "noose of law" around the planners and masterminds responsible for launching a rebellion against the state and state institutions, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military's media wing.
During the 81st Formation Commanders Conference presided over by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, the top military officials expressed their firm resolve to bring the perpetrators and instigators of the May 9 attacks to justice.
The commanders condemned the desecration of martyrs' monuments and Jinnah House, as well as the attacks on military installations. They reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the swift and fair prosecution of the offenders under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act, which derive from the country's constitution.
The statement issued by the ISPR dismissed any attempts to distort the facts or use human rights violations as a smoke screen to conceal the true nature of the individuals involved. The commanders stated that ample and undeniable evidence had been collected to support the prosecution of those responsible.
Furthermore, the formation commanders warned that any attempts by any quarter to hinder the conclusive defeat of hostile forces' ill designs would be dealt with firmly.
The call for tightening the "noose of law" underscores the army's determination to maintain peace, stability, and the rule of law in Pakistan, as well as its commitment to protect the nation and its institutions.
The Formation Commanders Conference was attended by corps commanders, principal staff officers, and all formation commanders of the Pakistan Army.
Tribute to martyrs:
The military's forum expressed its deep appreciation for the "supreme sacrifices" made by martyrs, including armed forces personnel, law enforcement agencies, and members of civil society during a recent meeting, according to a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
During the gathering, Fateha (prayers) were offered to honor the martyrs, and the forum reiterated the unwavering respect and dignity that the state of Pakistan and the Armed Forces hold for the martyrs and their families.
The forum, as quoted by the ISPR, stated, "The state of Pakistan and Armed Forces will always keep Shuhadas (martyrs) and their families in highest esteem and will continue to honor them and their sacrifices with utmost respect and dignity."
The meeting also included briefings on the prevailing security environment, challenges to internal and external security, and the operational readiness of the army in response to evolving traditional and non-traditional threats.
Additionally, the participants were briefed on the incorporation of "structural changes and niche technologies" in the arsenal to enhance operational preparedness and upgrade essential logistical infrastructure to address emerging security imperatives.
The army chief, addressing the participants, reaffirmed the Pakistan Army's commitment to its national obligations of safeguarding territorial integrity and sovereignty. He emphasized the crucial bond between the people and the armed forces, highlighting that the events of May 25 demonstrated the strength of this bond.
The forum strongly denounced unfounded and baseless allegations of custodial torture, human rights abuses, and stifling of political activities against law enforcement agencies and security forces. It labeled these allegations as attempts to mislead the public and tarnish the image of the armed forces for trivial political interests.
Regarding hostile forces and their abettors, the army chief stated that attempts to create societal division and confusion through fake news and propaganda would continue to be defeated with the full support of the nation.
General Munir emphasized the importance of maintaining high standards of professionalism and motivation during operations, as well as achieving excellence in the training of formations. He commended the commanders for their unwavering focus on the well-being and high morale of their soldiers, who remain the foundation of the army's operational readiness.
The forum concluded by affirming its resolve to make any necessary sacrifices for the security and stability of the country, with the continuous support of the proud people of Pakistan, as stated by the ISPR.
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