Whereas Manufacturing Consent, co-authored by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, exposes the double standards of the world’s freest media, i.e., American media, no attempt has been made in Pakistan to bring forward the hypocrisy of Pakistan’s media. Failing to broadcast and publish news story of the recently held gathering of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) in Peshawar reveals the fears, double standards and above all the wrong priorities of our media. However, this editorial intends to do so.
Whether it is agitation of Anjuman Muzara’in or Baloch long march for missing persons or PTM, media turn against its core objective; covering the news and giving voice to the grievances of people. Media fails to perform its role of being a watchdog. The zero coverage policy of media houses, especially that of electronic media to the PTM is alarming. The deliberate attempt to overlook and ignore the movement, the participants, gathered in Peshawar, the tales of agony and torture that the speakers told the audience, and the unfulfilled demands of PTM not at all portray signs of a healthy, vibrant and responsive media. The lack of debate in media over the movement’s goals and demands mean that the media houses are preoccupied with some fears that we all know perfectly well.
The irony is that the people have overthrown their fears and came out of their houses to register a protest against state’s unjust practices while being a part of the war on terror regime. However, the fourth pillar of the state does not perform its most important duty: criticism of state attitude towards Pashtuns. Is it the fear of losing profits that bars all news channels from covering the details of the movement? Or is it right to assume that the houses are following some institutional orders? Probably, both factors are the causes for such a despicable attitude of media towards PTM.
The lack of coverage means that no debate will happen at all to understand the grievances of the citizens. Such a move will further marginalise the already alienated people from the national ambit. Some independent journalists have already expressed their frustration over media’s failure to give airtime to the movement. They see the move as extremely harmful for the cohesiveness of the society. And indeed it is a damaging move. It will create a vacuum. The peaceful movement, which is PTM, will be pushed in a direction that will not benefit the state at all.