The women of Pakistan have been plagued with the menace of Gender Bias and Gender Based Violence. The slogans raised by each incumbent government, for promoting women empowerment have so far not generated the desired results in our society. It has been recently reported that there have been estimated 8000 incidents of violence against women in Pakistan in the year 2010. This is shocking, considering that many such incidents are never reported and do not register in these figures. The non-committal police and the alleged involvement of political and legislative figures supporting the culprits, has exacerbated the situation. The media is one of the beacons, which can disseminate awareness in the society, regarding the issue. It is the responsibility of the media to highlight and sensitize the public, of this issue.
Archive for February, 2011
We have recently taken an initiative of issuing a brochure on the subject of Jihad, to counter the prevalent extremist narratives. The brochure is the first, in the series of initiatives to respond against the literature disseminated by the radical groups. The brochure addresses the various misconceptions surrounding Jihad, within our society. It contains various verses and quotes from Quran and Hadith, in order to support the arguments presented. It also serves as a counter narrative to the propaganda spread by Jihadi or militant elements in the country. The brochure has been kept concise and very simple, while adopting a format of questions and answers, for easy comprehension. It has been published in Urdu and English.
The Davis case is being used by certain elements in the society, as a catalyst to invigorate nationalist and religious sentiments of our poor and deprived nation. The sentiments which our cricket players have failed to stimulate are being nurtured by these right wing parties for their own malign purposes. The recent rallies being carried out across Lahore by right wing outfits, including the banned group of Jamat ud-Dawa clearly give the sense of frustration, present within our society. Our simple and ignorant people are being herded onto a dangerous path by these parties. With Davis already being handed down the judgment of being guilty by these elements, the mood can be simply judged by the banners being displayed in these rallies, depicting a noose around Raymond Davis’s neck. The statement is quite simple that anything below a death penalty for the accused will bear grave consequences. The question to be pondered upon is, will these demands stop at Raymond and who will the next person be inside that noose? Is the verdict already decided and the courts are bound to give decisions based on public sentiments, rather than the concept that “everyone is innocent unless proven guilty”? Where is the rule of law, when banned outfits merge openly into public rallies?
It is quite a surprise when one sees statements disseminating from banned Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, being published prominently on the front pages of newspapers. This time it is again Raymond Davis and they have threatened the government against releasing him. It is probably a widespread understanding that after such terrorists groups have been banned by the government, their statements have also been barred from coming onto the media. But the credit goes to the media, which has already made the issue of Lahore shooting an opportunity, to settle some kind of personal vendetta. They have now left no stone unturned to display the displeasure within Pakistan, hence comes the statements from this banned group. A group which has its hand filled with blood of innumerable innocent Pakistanis, is threatening the government against releasing a person, who has allegedly killed two.
It is not surprising to see the government tacitly approving, the peace treaty in Parachinar. The treaty has been ratified by the banned Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It is evidently seen that the Taliban have installed themselves, as the de facto rulers of Kurram Agency. The state also seems to be comfortable with the idea of TTP restoring peace in the region, where they have failed to do so in the last four years. The efforts against terrorism seem to be derailing, as the state seems to be falling again into the same trap, just like before, when these same elements make and break peace accords according to their interests. The ratifying of peace accord by the Taliban, while conveniently leaving the government apparatus out, clearly shows who has the upper hand in the region.
It is a fanfare out there and the media along with the right wing political parties has jumped in, to bask in the limelight. The mentioning of Raymond Davis might boil the blood of an average Pakistani (again courtesy of the media), but these so-called anchorpersons and investigative reporters are enjoying this case, which has become their favorite subject. The coverage from the first day of this event has been based on questionable grounds, as even the preliminary investigations were not complete and breakthroughs in the case already seem to be appearing the media. These journalists have conveniently brushed aside the fact, that the two people killed by the accused were carrying weapons and a case of robbery was registered against them.
The TV anchorpersons, investigative reporters and their teams of pseudo analysts have already declared the accused as a spy, while the status is still being ascertained by the courts and foreign office. The case seems to be in the midst of a media trial, rather than in the legal courts. Headlines, such as US issues ‘stricter warning’ Davis (The Nation, 08-02-11), seem only to serve inciting the sentiments of the common Pakistani.
The spread of violence in Baluchistan has been increasing at an alarming rate. Although, the violence in the province has been mostly related to nationalist sentiments, but recently the involvement of religious extremist elements has further aggravated the situation. The spike in attacks and bomb blasts in the province has presented a grave situation for the state apparatus. When is anyone going to learn, that if the grievances of the locals are not addressed, they choose to prefer violent and extremist course of action to demand their rights? Why should violence be the medium for a wakeup call to the government to address an issue?
In the recent days, the news coverage has mainly been on the turmoil taking place in the Middle East. It is unfortunate that many in the print and electronic media have been trying to link this, with the situation in Pakistan. While the people of Middle East are trying to overthrow dictators and usher in an era of democracy, the voices from various quarters in our society advocate disrupting a democratic system and bringing in a non-representative regime. It is quite obvious that the people who support this theory have either not worked out the whole strategy or have lost their way and are playing at the hands of notorious elements. My question to them is that, if this democratic system dissolves then what happens next?