SAHIWAL-Debate participants said the national media has deviated from its original role of being “agenda setter” as it has become “agenda followers” set by the rulers.

Creating new narrative on the principles of tolerance, patience and self-respect is need of the hour, they said. The debate was jointly organised by Awaz Society, Punjab Lok Sujag and Sahiwal Art Council at Jinnah Hall.

The topic was “National Narrative, Social Consciousness and Media? A large number of citizens from different sections of society listened to the dialogue continued for two and half hours. The key speaker was renowned political analyst and intellectual Dr Mehdi Hassan.

He revealed around 80 percent news in Pakistan are based on opinions or statements released by different institutions. He said ruling classes or institutions always bribe media so they also consider them rulers.

He said today’s Pakistan is not the Pakistan visualised by Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He claimed that full text of Quaid’s speech in Constitutional Assembly on August 11, 1947 was “censored” and its full content was not published in the media because Ch Muhammad Ali found it “against the ideology of Pakistan”.

He said from that day media “followed” state or establishment policy and its role as watchdog has always been questioned.. He said, “This is not the case in Pakistan. Even in the US where democracy has three-centuries-old history the media on foreign policy matter is tows the state policy line.”

He said the media must come up in developing citizens’ opinion based on facts and objectives. He said in parliamentary democracy only masses are rulers of their own destiny. He highlighted how today’s Pakistan is far away from Quaid’s vision.