By: Maemuna Sadaf
Media is no doubt fourth and main pillar of the state. Media is the most powerful means of brainstorming and the creation of public opinion. Nowadays, even war cannot be won without media. Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor has appreciated the role of media.
In Pakistan, most of the times any type of news and statements are published and on-aired without any consultation with strategic department or ISPR. These news and statements can be used against the country.
The statement of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was used in Kalbushan Yadav case in the International Court of Justice. This type of publications etc happens only in underdeveloped countries.
In these countries, media takes as its insult to seek guidance/collaborate with the government before publishing some sensitive story about security or strategic issue. If authorities ask media people for not publishing specific stuff or at least check from the specific department, then a large section of media propagates it as an attack on press freedom.
On the contrary, in developed countries, it is their moral obligation to collaborate with their state departments before publishing a story about security and strategic issues.
Recently, a correspondent of US daily New York Times “James Risen” disclosed that American newspaper of great repute regularly collaborates with the US Government.
On the other hand, social media has now become another tool for public discussion and opinion creation. Most of the statements of national/ international level are published through social media especially Twitter. In this way, another mode of war (5th Generation war) has been introduced and used by every state.
Writing more! The law of the country (Official Secret Law 1923) prohibits any person from publishing/ speaking which may be used against the country. Under this act, any word which harms the country’s strategic/ international interest may be considered a crime. Under section No 656, it is mentioned that the person may be imprisoned for 14 years or less.
Under the umbrella of “freedom of speech”, some of the media houses/ papers are publishing stuff related to security issues without any prior information to the ISPR or strategic department of the state. The said publications are later used against the state.
Discussing more! There is a difference between responsible publishing and freedom of speech. Press freedom should not be taken as the freedom to say/publish anything regarding any matter. Press freedom is actually taking responsibility to create public opinion and supporting the state.
The media houses and publishers should understand the consequences and repercussions of irresponsible reporting that can lead the government and other institutions to embarrassment. In some cases, irresponsible reporting can lead to diabolic disaster.
Concluding more! Media, at large are the key players in any situation especially in creating public opinion. They should not portray the enemy’s narrative intentionally or unintentionally.
They should behave much more responsible in case of strategic issues. All pillars of the states should remain stick to national narrative and portray the same. The interaction between ISPR, Government, and media should be increased. On the other hand, citizens should also behave responsibly while using social media websites.
To compete with the present scenario an autonomous body including ISPR representative, foreign affairs ministry representative, media representatives should be made.
Hence, all of the authorities should be on one page while speaking about national narrative. Rather than using social media tools media and other institution should collaborate with each other.