Media freedom and the extent to which they bow to the official line has oft been debated, but the coverage of the sacking of the Chief Justice by the local media groups has been outstanding. The government is pressurizing the media to tone down their coverage, the law minister has resorted to vulgar abuses and even threatened families of journalists, but to no avail. The government even forced three channels of air for showing footage of what was going on, but the minute they got back on air they were at it again, government be damed.
Hat’s off to Pakistan media! The tv channels and newspapers have completely refused to toe the government line – it’s come to the point where they’ll be forced of air but they’re not going to back down on what they’ll say. A case in point is when the “govt. banned the transmission of a popular talk show”:http://www.teeth.com.pk/blog/2007/03/16/govt-bans-kamran-khans-geotv-show/ last night – normally the network would have just not have said anything on air and gone on with some other programming, but this time they went off air for ten minutes than came back and told the world that the Pakistan government is censoring the program, so hence they can’t play it. They kept repeating that over the next 24 hours – so whatever the govt. was trying to hide, couldn’t have been as bad publicity for them as the entire country being told over and over again that the govt. is trying to hide something.
It’s not often that an event changes the very way entire systems works – and right now all one has to do to see it in action is to flip open “Geo News”:http://geo.tv, or Aaj Tv, or ARY Digital – or one of the many other private tv channels. It was only a week ago that the channels would toe the official line on some things, or not cover news which the government wanted buried.
I think that has changed now, forever. There is nothing worse the government could have done than the way it has gone about sacking the Chief Justice – even the billions of dollars looted by various politicians and generals pales in front of this. When the government can’t stop coverage of this, it’s going to be much harder for them in the future to censor the media. The media watching population is smart enough to figure out something really fishy is up when their favorite channels go off air, or when the TV anchor talks around an issue.
The media is making sure the public is aware of every which way the government is harassing them – and in turn the tv watching public is reading between the line to figure out what the govt. is trying to hide
The government officials aren’t helping – their very existence is bad enough – it speaks volumes about Musharraf that the best people he can pick out from the sorry lot which comprises his cabinet are no better than common street thugs, and a quarter of the intelligence to boot. This is before anyone of them even speaks! Take a single minute of speech from any of the ministers from the media about the Chief Justice – any single minute, and compare it with reality. It is enough to make one lose faith in humanity, let alone the Pakistani government. It is so blindingly obvious that none of the ministers know anything at all about their jobs or what their government is up to that a lot of people have lost all faith in the dictator who appointed these fools.
Musharraf in a frenzy of damage control is sending minister after minister to all the talk shows trying to stem the tide, yet he probably has not realized that every time one of these ministers opens his mouth (they’re always hims) he’s doing a lot more damage to his image. In Pakistan at least, the “dictator has been stripped bare of all his clothes”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2007_03/the_dictator_has_no_clothes.html, and it seems the “western world is finally taking some notice”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/16/AR2007031600405_pf.html of Pakistan’s sham democracy. The Pakistani media has been instrumental in that, so once again hat’s off to them. Up till this point, Musharraf had a lot of supporters amongst the ‘silent majority’ – but the sheer incomprehensible incompetence of his minsters and Musharraf’s own ham handed actions have lost him that support.
Musharraf is not lagging far behind his many lackies in stupidities – he went live on TV defending himself, and in a moment surpassing his best pal Bush, *declared that the many missing people (read apprehended) in Pakistan were missing on their own accord, and not because of the govt.* An entire nation was left speechless.