Mr Qadri is a lucky man. Most pastors or clerics have a hard time preaching beyond the walls of their establishments, and if they do, it’s only through buying airtime from dedicated religious channels or brief morning slots from the mainstream ones. Mr Qadri has been allowed to rail, rant and sermonize on national television without any such inconvenience. His tediously long and elaborate ploys are telecast live; his incendiary and violent religious imagery is broadcast to rapt attention. He has treated the nation as an extended flock; all here to listen to his Friday prayer sermon. Is that all it takes, a large crowd and a sound system to hijack the nation’s media and therefore its attention?

Yes, it’s the job of the media to get the facts to the people, yet it also has a responsibility to the people. When the world declared that there was a fourth pillar of the state; the media, it did so by placing a solemn burden on it. The media is impartial. It is allowed to generate profit because we recognize that it takes money to run a news agency. Yet its primary responsibility is to the people, to educate them of the matters of the state, to inform them of the happenings of the world; so that the people can then hold their government accountable. Whatever it points it camera to becomes part of the public’s narrative, and what it ignores, fades to black.

The airwaves are dominated by the marches; singing, dancing and rhetoric are all that we see.  Even the ‘facts’ are so inconsistent that it is obvious that at least someone is picking sides.  By fetishizing political intrigue, something that sells, the media has skewed the national perspective to make it the only issue on the fore. Not only that, it has given it strength and momentum that far exceeds the one it could have generated on its own. These ‘revolutions’ would have been far less disruptive had the media kept a level head and given the rest of the nation its due share.

The media realizes its power, and is using it for economic gains, as the shamelessly bipartisan nature of the Geo News blasphemy scandal shows. It is high time that it evolves from a ‘free’, and by extension capitalist, media to a professional one; one that acts as the watchdog of the people and not a mouthpiece for a particular party.