ISLAMABAD     -   Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Thursday that media should keep the national security and state interests supreme while building a narrative and criticising the government’s performance.

Speaking at the National Media Conference on “Media as Soft Power in the 21st Century” here at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), she said, “We have to define the interests of the state and the government.”

She said the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan considered media fourth pillar of the state. It was the right of media to criticise the government and bring forth its shortcomings, but it should not undermine the national cause,” she stressed.

The special assistant to the PM asked ‘fourth pillar’ of the state to analyse and evaluate the performance of the government, and guide it whenever there was any constitutional violation, misuse of authority or abuse of power.

The constitution, she said, guaranteed to the citizens freedom of expression and speech, and the media could point out whenever the same was curtailed.

Dr Firdous urged the media to act responsibly. “When more than 70 television channels will show chaos, uncertainty and unrest from dawn tom dusk, this sends a negative message to the world. The people abroad want to know about the “Naya Pakistan” which is enlightened, moderate and progressive,” she asserted.

SAPM said disinformation and fake news hurt the national interests.

She further said that youth, who had an immense potential, were the country’s real assets as future leaders, and would be trained and facilitated in overcoming the national challenges.

Dr Firdous said one of the biggest challenges of the present era was the fifth generation hybrid warfare. “The role of media as a soft power is vital in today’s world, and now the social media has become its important component and could be effectively used to keep the world informed about the viewpoint and achievements of Pakistan,” she opined.

She said the soft power of media had assumed a new significance as even superpowers, despite their strong economies and having the latest technology, could not retain their status without its effective use.

She assured the youth that the government would create opportunities and work to build their capacity so that their potential could be utilised for the country’s development, and to safeguard national security and sovereignty.

Dr Firdous announced that the government would build a state of the art media university to equip the youth with the latest methods and means of communication.

She said the speech of Prime Minister Imran Khan at the United Nations had a profound impact at the international level. “He used the platform to project the viewpoint of Pakistan, highlight human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir and dispel false impressions about Islam,” she said, and added, “The prime minister in his 47-minute speech brought to the notice of the world the festering Kashmir issue and shook the world’s conscience. Imran Khan told the world that the mainstay of Islam was to preserve the human rights.”

She said Pakistanis were a resilient nation, which bravely fought against terrorism and achieved peace after rendering huge sacrifices.

SAPM was of the view that people were aware that in the new and changed Pakistan there would be rule of law and nobody would attempt to undermine the institutions as was the case in the past.

She said in the past, institutions were weakened at the cost of personal interests. “Today there is no sacred cow and nobody is allowed to indulge in attacking the institutions,” she pointed out.

She appreciated the youth for steadfastly backing the narrative of Pakistan.         

Dr Firdous said Pakistan would continue to tell the world as to how India was showing complete disregard for the international law by violating the United Nations resolutions, norms of humanity, and committing atrocities in the occupied Kashmir.

India, SAPM said, had deployed 900,000 troops in Kashmir and was carrying out genocide of the people there, raping women and making Kashmiris blind by using pellet guns.

“International observers are not allowed to visit the valley,” she regretted.

She expressed the resolve that if at present Kashmiris could not communicate to rest of the world what India was doing in the held Kashmir due to curfew imposed for more than two months, then Pakistanis would be their voice.

“Pakistanis feel the pain of Kashmiris and will continue to stand with them and keep on informing the world about their miserable plight,” she vowed.

NUML Rector Major General Muhammad Jaffar and heads of faculty of media studies from different universities also spoke on the occasion about the growing influence of media on society and the world at large.