ISLAMABAD - Defense Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik on Monday urged the media to report on national security issues in a mature, balanced and objective manner.

The defense secretary was speaking at the conclusion of a daylong Conference on "Role of Media and Pakistan's National Security Discourse", which was jointly organized by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Strategic Vision Institute here.

The goal of the conference was to facilitate a dialogue on the role that media can play in promoting national security.

Reporting on national security is a sensitive issue, because the slightest inaccuracy can cause alarm or other serious consequences. Therefore, experts feel that the media ought to get their balance right in reporting on national security and more specifically terrorism.

Eminent media practitioners, academia, legal experts, military professionals and scholars attended the conference.

Gen Malik said all stakeholders including "State, media, and public needed fine tuning". Emphasizing the importance of media, he said it was "pillar of the national security" being projector of national policies abroad, defender of national values and driver of public opinion.

In her keynote address former Ambassador and President Jinnah Institute Sherry Rehman said it was unfair to expect media, which was also under threat from militants, to take a strong position against terrorism.

She claimed that a lot of space had been conceded to terrorists because of lack of clarity on part of the government.

"Protracted dialogue makes them (terrorists) legitimate stakeholders," she observed.

Rehman said she was not opposed to dialogue in the post-conflict scenario, but the country was still in the middle of conflict.

She said that all political parties, barring a few, were ready to forge consensus against terrorism. The media, she added, would follow the suit once the consensus among politicians is developed.

Dr Mehdi Hassan regretted the disproportionate coverage given to the terrorists in media reporting.

Barrister Mehreen Khan, while discussing the growth of extremist influence on media, said it resulted because of mushroom growth of TV channels that are more interested in ratings and resort to sensationalism instead of objectivity.

Former minister and international law expert Ahmer Bilal Soofi said fighting terror was a state responsibility. Any other course, he warned, would be a defiance of the international law.

He mentioned legal provisions that prohibited projection of extremist views and statements.

Former commander of Army Air Defense Lt Gen (retd) Muhammad Owais said the Pak-India peace process was very sensitive and while reporting on it priority should be accorded to national interest.

Executive Director Strategic Vision Institute Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema noted absence of a narrative on national security discourse.

He said such a narrative would provide the framework for media deliberations on national security.

Country Representative Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Ronny Heine in his remarks said: "National Security is by far one of the most sensitive and contentious issues that Pakistan faces today."