ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani main stream media (Electronic & Print) is pursuing an unannounced policy of discrimination towards covering minorities’ issues and event, a study and background interviews conducted have revealed. Religious minorities in Pakistan are facing issues and not only state but media is also playing biased role towards covering their issues and events. A research paper submitted by a mass communication student at local university has revealed that during the said period major newspapers have not covered the issues they faced and showed cold shoulder towards their events.
The basic objective of the thesis was to know that how the media is effecting and protecting the rights of the minorities. The study was based on the vision of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of the nation regarding the protection and freedom of the religious minorities after the independence. During the recent decade, minorities are being targeted at large at their worship places and living under constant threats.
Media is vital and indispensable medium of communication in a free society and it is upholder of the rights and freedom of the citizens. It is the voice of the people especially the forsaken segment of the society and watchdog of their interests. It aims at the service of the people by dissemination of news with objective and accuracy. But during the recent years it is been observed that Pakistani Media reports are biased and less coverage was given to minorities’ issues and events.
Talking to the Covenant News Mr. Imran said that study was conducted during the year 2015-16 and based on few Urdu and couple of English daily were focused. A study revealed that during the said period number of events were arranged by the minorities’ organization but not covered by the said media outlets on discriminatory bases. And many incidents happened but not being published. A university student said during this study he personally interviewed the victims who complained that not only administration but media was not ready to report those incidents.
Asher John, Lahore based journalist said that “I strongly believe that the national main stream media does play down incidents of religious discrimination and persecution of Pakistan’s minorities communities. This is partially due to government’s ‘requests (read orders)’ to newspapers editors and TV channel heads not to highlight or give extensive coverage to such issue as “they bring a bad to the country.” Talking to Covenant News he highlighted the problems he faced himself as chief news editor at English daily. He mentioned the other factors of lack of coverage of minorities’ communities is the fact that main stream channels are not very keen on giving a voice to the voiceless. There are only a handful of journalists belonging to minorities’ communities working in the mainstream media but they too are unable to project the plight of their people effectively as they have little or no say at all in editorial matters. There is a dire need to produce more journalists from such communities’ train them professionally and provide them with a platform in the national media from where they can bring forth the issues facing their people as well reports persecution and discrimination meted out by the majority, he added.
In the recent months, Sumeera Parvez (Christian girl of 16) was being kidnapped from outskirts of Islamabad and rapped for two days. After two days, she went to the nearest police station and registered First Investigation Report (FIR) but neither police cared about the case nor National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) taken up the case. The family went to different media outlets but nobody was ready to report this case. Sumeera told Covenant News that she approached to Express News and Capital TV but after recording the statement both TV channel did not released. Instead a local media reporter Munir Shah posted a biased story against her. Another killing of young (Tania) in Sialkot was reported being killed but was not being published due to the biased attitude of the media.
One of the Islamabad based journalist said that local media is reluctant in reporting such incident due to the fear of international repute. Pakistan is considered one of those countries persecuting the religious minorities. Violence and discrimination against religious minorities have intensified to a level where many live in daily fear of violence or harassment, but not reported properly. Therefore the exact data is not found. The government’s failure to protect these communities was encouraging perpetrators to act with impunity.
Rights organizations, political parties and minority communities’ representative have also expressed their serious concerns over this issue.