Pakistan: 110 journalists lost lives in duty within 10 years

KARACHI: Denmark’s Ambassador to Pakistan Jesper Mollar Sorensen has said that despite phenomenal growth of mass media in Pakistan, the country is still one of the most challenging countries for journalists to perform their duties.

The Danish Ambassador stated this while delivering his speech at the inaugural session of second Transforming Youth Media Summit-2015 organized by Publicity Channel in collaboration with National Forum for Environment and Health. The Denmark’s envoy said on the occasion that some 110 journalists had lost their lives in the line of duty in Pakistan in last 10 years meaning that almost one journalist was losing his life every month while 11 journalists were being killed every year.

He said the sorry state of affairs for media personnel had been persisting despite the situation that mass media scene of the country had witnessed phenomenal growth in over last ten years. He said that during this period number of TV channels had grown to 100 from merely one TV channel, number of FM radio station had increased to 150 from mere one radio channel, while almost 2,000 newspapers were being printed in the country in 11 languages.

The Danish diplomat said that given the risks and problems being faced by journalists in the country, the government of Denmark had recently launched a media support programme in Pakistan in collaboration with concerned non-governmental sector with a total cost of 2.8 million US Dollars while total assistance of Denmark to the country stood at 50 million Dollars.

He said the Denmark’s media support programme would be utilized for strengthening role of Pakistani media in support of democratic and pluralistic society and publicly accountable and representative system of governance in the country. The two-year assistance programme would also be helpful for proposing and adopting a consensus code of ethics for the entire Pakistani media while it would be used for improving skills and safety of journalists working at district and local levels especially for regional languages’ media.

The Danish ambassador noted that in the past decade, the emergence of a vibrant media scene in Pakistan had played a crucial role in the evolving socio-economic and political discourse for the larger benefit of society and public. But media workers, especially those employed in the provinces, were often untrained and underpaid. In addition to these challenges, threats and violent attacks against journalists continue in Pakistan.

The diplomat noted that Pakistani youth and media combining together would become highly an influential highly force, which could be used for bringing improvement in society and public affairs to a great extent. He said the government of Denmark would also provide support to improve working conditions, provision of due privileges, safety and security to media personnel in Pakistan while media of the country should also be equally supportive to flourishing of democratic order.

Also speaking on the occasion, former Federal minister for Information and Broadcasting and media expert Javed Jabbar said the media commission appointed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan some years back had given some 40 proposals for improving and upgrading functioning of mass media in the country.

He said that one of the important proposals of media commission was that ministry of Information and ministry of Information Technology at the federal level should be merged together as well as the proposed merging together of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority for proper regulation alike of mainstream, conventional, modern and technologically advanced mass media.

He said the Ministry of Information of the present federal government had expressed willingness to accept majority of the proposals given by the media commission.

He said that no doubt the media scene of Pakistan had flourished but this progress was not much public friendly as at present there was no genuine public interest broadcaster in the country, which could be completely free of government’s interference while at the same time such media outlet should not be fully dependent upon advertisements for its entire financing needs.

He said that there was need to change revenue model of Pakistani private TV channels in the undesirable situation that they were fully dependent upon advertisements for revenue generation while fee paid by the common TV subscribers were totally pocketed by operators of cable TV service providers while no share of it was given to management of private television channels.

He said the citizens of Pakistan should be proactive for their rights while consuming media services so that due democratic privileges of public regarding availability of information could be safeguarded.

Noted TV artist Durdana Butt said the private TV news channels in the country had been unduly showing gory and violent scenes damaging the public rights and interests. He said that there could be no democracy in the country without responsibility so being all of us keen followers of democracy the private TV media should show more responsibility in their conduct and content making while covering public interests matters.

Senior journalist and analyst Mazhar Abbas said that university students aspiring to become media persons should not become unduly impressed by emerging and expanding private TV news media scene. Instead the students should complete their higher education, augment their reading and researching habits and afterwards select the news medium they would like to join according to their personal potential and aptitude.

The senior analyst said that he had happened to interview fresh university graduates for job vacancies in media outlets and in the process he had found serious dearth of healthy reading habits among young job aspirants.

He said the private media outlets especially TV channels were increasingly being controlled by their respective owners on the cost of weakening the influence and control of editorial leadership on production of news and infotainment content so there had been increased threat to objective, neutral, and independent show of journalism.

Those also spoke on the occasion motivational speaker Yousuf Basheer Qureshi, Shahbaz Islam of Sui Gas Company Ltd, Kaiser Waheed of National Forum of Environment & Health, Syed Babar Shah, Afia Salam, Huma Mir, Rehan Allahwala, Israr Shah, , Naeem Qureshi, and Ruqiya Naeem.

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