In any sovereign country, media is an important pillar of the state. With the exception of very few countries, it is not allowed to play its complete role in building a nation. In most countries media is subjected to curbs, sanctions and obstacles to ensure that only the policy of the sitting government is propagated and its performance eulogized. Thus it becomes a tool to promote the government rather than provide checks and balances.

In the first few years after independence, the media in Pakistan was free and responsible; it ensured that the fruits of the freedom were fairly distributed amongst all the citizens of Pakistan, irrespective of cast, creed or position. However, with the passage of time Pakistan also joined the crowd and did not remain an exception from the general trend in the world as successive civil and military governments began to use media to their own advantage. In the garb of designing ‘a code of conduct’ for the media they sought to provide loopholes to propagate only the government’s points of view. Some newspapers (very few) continued to defy this policy and followed an independent, as well as nationalistic, course of action but generally most of the other newspapers fell in line with the Government’s requirements and were duly exploited (and also rewarded by different means).

When the present regime came into power, it was generally expected that ‘new curbs and sanctions’ would be placed on the media which would operate under the directives of the authoritarian government. However, it came as a pleasant surprise when the government declared that it would follow a liberal policy in respect to media, ensuring its freedom and encouraging expansion. Presently there are 45 private television channels and 104 private radio stations operating freely in the country. Many new newspapers and periodicals have started operations and continue to follow an independent policy criticizing the government, where necessary, and supporting it, where its actions are considered positive.

This is evident from the free expression of points of view by both the supporters and opponents of the government. It is also hoped that it so happens that combined with their national spirit as well as sense of responsibilities the media will be allowed to play its due role in the building of a national opinion and contributing to the long term objectives of freedom, independence, prosperity and nation building, Insha’ Allah.

RAKHSHANDA KHAN,

Dubai, March 30.