We developed a handbook for the media focusing on How to report effectively on torture today. This manual aims at sensitizing media personnel on how to identify a torture victim and then how to properly report a torture case in the newspapers. A downloadable copy is available on our site.
The long wait is over and the first issue of Fard (Individual) is out. Fard is a magazine, which is the initiative of IL-Pakistan; with the objective of presenting a liberal point of view and intellectual reading on the prevalent issues facing Pakistan. Finally some fresh perspective has come into the limelight. In this inaugural issue, Fard focuses on media with its evolving roles and challenges in the prevalent political and security scenario. Contributions have been made by acclaimed writers, analysts and columnists. The next issue will be October 2011, so we will all be waiting.
The inclusion of Article 19-A into the Constitution recognized public to access the information held by public departments, as a basic right of the masses. A series of five public service messages (PSM) and a short documentary had been developed by Individualland-Pakistan (IL) in order to sensitize the various sections of the society about RTI. These PSMs and documentary were supposed to be run on leading terrestrial and satellite channels. But after initial airing, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) has categorized these as being anti-government in nature. The question that comes to the mind is what in these messages was so controversial that the higher-ups in PBA thought it to be non-beneficial for the government? Are they afraid that by having knowledge of their rights the people will demand more? Are they suffering from some kind of revolution phobia, where they think the people will be instigated by these PSMs? IL-Pakistan has decided to launch a protest against this unfair clampdown. You find out for yourself if these are anti-government or not.
After much thought and deliberation the much important endeavor on paving way for a free, independent and responsible media was acknowledged by the first of many workshops. The two day workshop on the FIRM initiative saw energetic participation by a diversified group of journalists and panelists.
Promoting a free, independent and responsible media is really about promoting human freedom. Media is famously called the fourth pillar of the state. Whether it is print, electronic or alternate no one can ever challenge its importance. It has been called the watchdog as well as those who hold up the mirror to society.
A very important question asked by the public is â€œHow to use the Right to Information in my work?â€ Awareness of our rights as a citizen is critical in this regard. We have a right to question governments. This right empowers citizens to question the government, inspect their files, and take copies of government documents and also to inspect government works.
The two day workshop was proud to host a personality which has done a tremendous job of formulating policies to address pertinent issues in media. Addressing the closing ceremony of the two day workshop, Former Federal Minister for information, Ms. Sherry Rehman expressed that it is vital to evaluate the existing bill on right to information. The bill or the law facilitates a common citizen to hold government accountable and the citizen can demand for any documents in this regard.
During the course of two day discussion, everyone shared their views and experience of working with the media. The seminar was attended by a large number of media personals belongs to different groups.
Swat was slowly witnessing some growth after a year army cleared the area when the floods struck it. There are many lessons for us to be learned from this. A dialogue titled â€œSwat â€“ Lessons learned after a yearâ€ was held at a local hotel on Saturday by IL-Pakistan that highlighted the need to boost the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Swat. A number of prominent speakers including General Talat Masood (Retd) (Security and Political Analyst), Mr. Khadim Hussain (Managing Director/Secretary, Bacha Khan Trust), Mr. Ikram Hoti (Senior Journalist, The News), Mr. Aqeel Yousufzai (Senior Journalist and Author of the book on Talibanization) and people from all walks of life participated in the seminar.
It was mutually agreed that the efforts to rehabilitate the people of Swat must be given the highest priority; otherwise the extremists would take over region once again. Residents of Swat are in desperate need of employment opportunities, because whatever they had was destroyed in the War. Poverty is one of the leading reasons why people turned to help the extremists in the past, so it is vital for the survival of the culture and tradition of Swat that the people are rehabilitated and given the due importance.
Recently, we were part of the Interaction Forum where more than eight hundred delegates from various international civil society organizations came together to share experiences and learn from each other. IL‘s representative also served as a panelist on the subject of women political participation in South Asia
We organized in Peshawar a one day consultation on the sensitive topic â€œThe way forward to Peace â€“ Rehabilitation of Talibanâ€ on 17th May 2010. Prominent speakers included Mr. Shahid Shamim (President Peshawar press Club), Dr. Muhammad Farooq (Religious Scholar), Mr. Ikram Hoti (Senior Journalist â€“ The NEWS), Mr. Imtiaz Gul (Director Centre for Research and Security Studies) to mention a few.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Shahid Shamim expressed his concerns regarding some factions in the establishment not being sincere to the cause of curbing terrorism. He observed that rehabilitation of Taliban will be a failure if not done with utmost sincerity. Dr. Muhammad Farooq who is spear-heading the rehab centre called â€œSabawoonâ€ in Swat shared his first hand experience of his interactions with the potential suicide bombers brought for rehabilitation to this centre. He shared with the audience the indoctrination injected into those young minds and how the concept of â€˜Jihadâ€™ was explained to them as one of the pillars of Islam. He added that after having exhausting debates with the children on this topic, he was finally able to make them understand that they have been fed the wrong â€˜Islamic recipeâ€™. He concluded that from his experience he can say with assertion that all hope is not lost and there is still way back from this.
Mr. Ikram Hoti (Senior Journalist â€“ The NEWS) declared that the issue of Taliban needs to be understood in multiple dimensions i.e. political, economic, religious and cultural. He also stressed on the point that before you go for rehab of these minds, you must also take steps to stop the mass-production of these militants. Mr. Imitiaz Gul while said that it is important for the nation to stay away from falling a prey to â€˜conspiracy theoriesâ€™. The Q/A session at the end generated a lot of interesting quarries for the panel to address. The seminar was attended by a large number of people from various walks of life.
We’ve now entered the second phase of our radio project on Freedom of Information in Pakistan. From May 7th to July 23rd every Thursday at half past seven in the evening our talk show on Freedom of Information named Janai ka Haq will be aired on FM100 in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore .In Quetta and Peshawar the program can be heard on the same dates and timings on FM105 and Radio Buraq respectively. For May and June the following schedule will be followed:
Thursday, May 7th 2009 talk show guests
Thursday, May 14th 2009 talk show guests
Ms. Gulmina Bilal, Director Individualland Pakistan
Mr. Zahid Abdullah Program Coordinator Center for Peace and Development Initiatives. (CPDI-Pakistan)
Thursday, May 21st 2009 talk show guests
Thursday, May 28th 2009 talk show guests
Mrs. Amber Ali Bhai, General Secretary Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment (Shehri-CBE)
Mr. Ronald Deâ€™Soza, Senior Member Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment) Shehri-CBE)
Thursday, June 4th 2009 talk show guests
Thursday, June 11th 2009 talk show guests
Thursday, June 18th 2009 talk show guest
One on one talks with Mr. Gazi Salahuddin, Senior journalist.
Thursday, June 25th 2009 talk show guests
This is the schedule for May and June. The programs will also be uploaded on our website under ILâ€™s Podcasts. Moreover FM 100 can also be heard online. We await your feedback.
With the support of Open Society Institute, we are seeking to create public awareness about Freedom of Information in Pakistan through the use of radio . Radio provides an efficient way of reaching out to maximum number of people. As a first step public service messages have been produced featuring noted columnist and playwright Munnu Bhai and singer Tahira Syed.
These messages are being aired till April 30th on FM 100 for Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore and on FM Buraq and FM Sachal 105 in Peshawar and Quetta respectively. Listen up and needless to say feedback will be most welcome.
Your feedback which can range from “hating the music â€œ to “didnâ€™t understand the content â€œ etc is all the more valuable so that the next set of messages can be improved. We also intend from May to air fifteen minute talk shows featuring experts on FOI and your feedback will be helpful in improving these programs too. So help us out â€¦. listen up .
Media is the proverbial whipping horse for some and a watch dog for others. Much has been said and written about the evolving media in Pakistan. A friend also has written about it here with reference to the Swat flogging case. One was also struck by the media’s role during the long march and have penned a few thoughts. Check it out.
Roaming around Islamabad ‘s Aabpara market, citizen Ahmad Younis came across this sight and snapped it . Public parking space taken over by the media without regard to the concept of public access to public space. Who is going to watch the watchdog?