Disturbing Pattern Emerging at Dunya TV

Jul 6th, 2011 | By | Category: Dunya

Dunya TVTwo items must be noted about the episode of Khari Baat of 4 July. First is that Mubashir Lucman repeats the old debunked visa conspiracy theory. Actually this claim that there are 7,000 Raymond Davis’s running around Pakistan is not only disproven but quite ridiculous also.

In February, Ambassador Husain Haqqani held a press conference where he opened the books for journalists to inspect and revealed that actually there were no increases in the number of visas granted to American officials, even providing clear data to prove the case once and for all.

This conspiracy theory has been trotted out since being disproven whenever convenient, but no evidence has ever been provided that counters the data provided by the Embassy in Washington. On Aapas Ki Baat, Najam Sethi explained why this claim is nothing but misinformation.

So why does Mubashir Lucman try to bring up this nonsense? Unfortunately, it appears that it may have been more than an innocent mistake. At the close of the program, Lucman accuses Ambassador Haqqani of being an “agent” without any supporting evidence. Such allegations are not “news” or “analysis”, they are simply personal attacks that could be considered libelous. Such behaviour is both inflammatory and unprofessional in a journalistic context.

Mubashir LucmanNeither is this the first time that Mubashir has stooped to inflammatory statements on his show. His coverage of the Mukhtar Mai case even drove one fellow journalist to write an open letter to Mubashir Lucman that termed his show “appalling” and “a vicious attack” on women’s rights that “feed the vicious cycle of prejudice against rape victims, making the fight for justice harder”.

Unfortunately, this type of behaviour is not isolated to one anchor on Dunya TV, but could be seen as part of a larger pattern.

It should be noted here that following the murder of Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer, Meher Bokhari came under severe criticism from fellow journalists for her sensational and inflammatory treatment of Gov Taseer leading up to his death. Some wrote openly saying that Meher Bokhari has blood on her hands and Bokhari was summarily sacked by Samaa TV owner Zafar Siddiqui who was upset that his channel had broadcast such a show.

They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and it was not long after being sacked by Samaa TV that Dunya TV came calling and offered even larger jahez for the tainted bride’s hand. This blog wrote at the time that such an event would send a negative signal to media.

If Meher Bokhari gets a raise following a large PEMRA fine, TV anchors will see her as an example of how to advance their careers: pander to the extremist gallery and exploit religious sentiments while shouting your way to the top. Media chiefs likewise will see that the government’s regulatory body is toothless and will ignore warnings and fines as they attempt to boost ratings by outdoing each other with more and more outrageous programming.

Sadly, this appears to be coming true as a disturbing pattern is emerging at Dunya TV. The channel appears to be rewarding anchors who make inflammatory and sensational statements, whipping up public sentiments based on emotion and not facts.

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