Nadeem Paracha’s column written in the aftermath of the horrible attack in Karachi makes an important point about the effect of media on politics, and how certain media outlets are giving an outsized bullhorn to pro-Taliban political parties.
It is interesting to note, that though parties such as the Jamat-i-Islami and Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaaf have largely been ineffectual players in the bigger game of electoral politics, they have however managed to take their stance of the war and the Taliban on the mainstream platform through the electronic media.
Thus, the mainstream electronic media too has come under fire from the allied ruling parties for constantly giving vent to the ‘pro-Taliban’ and populist sentiments of unelected politicians and certain conservative journalists and columnists who – even after dozens of suicide attacks owned up by the Taliban recently – have continued to point the finger towards the US and India.
Even the large amount of proof now available to point towards the direct involvement of the local Taliban in the terrorist attacks in Pakistan it seems has not been able to make these politicians, and electronic and print journalists, change their populist and largely demagogic stand on the issue.
There is not a natural sympathy for these right-wing points of view in the country. That is not to say that these political parties should not be allowed to voice their opinions — quite the opposite, in fact. But the freedom to say your opinion does not guarantee you a free bullhorn to amplify your voice.
By giving Taliban sympathizers a platform from which to shout their message, these media outlets are making it look like there is some credibility or popularity for these points of view, rather than the more moderate and naturally inclined opinions of most Pakistanis.
As a result, conspiracy theories and blaming some foreign country for our problems becomes the mindset of people influenced by what they see and hear on TV. This despite the fact, as Nadeem well notes, that there is overwhelming evidence that the actual culprits in these attacks are Taliban.
Some media personalities and TV anchors have particular right-wing agendas that are well documented. Some are simply sensationalist in the drive to build their ratings and viewership. These ‘Media Taliban’ are doing a disservice to journalism and the nation.