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‘The government is not fulfilling its responsibility to fight terrorism and protect the lives of the people’, said an eminent politician as reported by a newspaper. The argument sounds familiar as it has been made before. We want the government to realize its responsibility to fight the battle against extremism and terrorism alone. The media is entrusted with the job of creating awareness in the masses. But the media can propagate awareness only to the extent that it is aware itself. Even the journalists who yearn for freedom of expression want it hedged when the freedom goes against their favorite school of ideology. For example, Shahid Masood of Geo TV was all for revealing the signs of Kiamat but did not want Maulana Abdul Aziz to be shown on TV fleeing the Lal Mosque clad in a burqa, since he thought it would bring a bad name to Islam.    Khaled Ahmed wrote, ‘Fighting the party accused of terrorism is putting your life on the line without anyone openly recognizing that you have done anything honorable.’ ‘TV channels have unwittingly taken the side of the terrorists in the war that is unfolding in Waziristan. The avoidance of such a tilt is almost impossible unless there is an inculcation against this drift in the training process of the of the TV channels’ and  ‘People who use vigilante action in the name of Islam are pretty close in their thinking to the terrorists. So far the TV channels have not thought of how they will tackle this….’ The regime has served the cause of ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘awareness’ by inundating us with relatively innocuous Indian serials ‘Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki’ and ‘Kiamat Se Kiamat Tak’ while keeping out some excellent Irani cinema on Iranian revolution. It would be interesting to see the facial expressions of JI leaders if some of these Irani movies are aired on the TV, notwithstanding their tireless campaign to ‘open up’ the media. An isolationist rhetoric is constantly fed to the masses by the media while there is no informed debate as to ‘what kind of states behave in what kind of pattern in foreign policy’.  The intellectual elite usually sit back and are happy to leave the cause of awareness to God and evolution. They cannot be blamed entirely since the intellectual elite are by definition quiet and introspective and are ready to take a back seat when confronted by loud and half baked doctrinaires. The journalism on the electronic media is currently dominated by those who are loud and ‘hard-hitting’ often overshadowing the more subtle and nuanced and never even mentioned among the top ten (e.g. Dr. Huma Baqai, Dr. Khalida Ghaus, Ijaz Haider, S. Wajahat Hussain). Some of the excellent journalistic minds in Pakistan are found in English language newspapers and TV channels leaving a huge segment of the Pakistani youth tuned out of the advances made in thought and journalism by these journalists.  As a section of the civil society we in Pakistan have the honor of mingling with other sections of the civil society and see little evidence of revolutionary awareness burgeoning among the masses, often claimed by some analysts. The media has created awareness in Pakistan as to the role of the military in the defense of the country’s borders and the need for democracy to flourish. But the masses are pretty vague as to how a democracy really functions beyond the holding of free and fair elections. Following are some of the quotes of the Pakistani masses recorded to show the extent to which they have become aware.   ‘Taliban had brought peace to Afghanistan and killing of Muslims by Muslims never took place before the invasion by America’. ‘Kala Bagh dam should have been forcibly made by the military regime irrespective of the possible bloodshed since a few casualties for a good cause do not matter much in the final analysis’. ‘Wavering from Pakistan ideology and two-nation theory has led to confusion as Hindus and Muslims  are separate nations and can never live together because Jinnah said so’  ‘The right place for women to be is within the home unless forced to do otherwise by circumstances as scientific studies on working women have proven that they are perpetually unhappy.’ ‘Forced closure of CD shops, barber shops and girls’ schools should not be a matter of concern for us as this is tribal culture and this what the tribals want’ and ‘.Pakistan should have cut off diplomatic relations with Denmark after the publication of the profane cartoons’.  Anti India and pro war pronouncements are issued by the likes of Professor Ghafoor Ahmed and General Hameed Gul regularly denouncing the pragmatism of the mainstream politicians and the litany is taken up by the civil society. After all we memorized our history books correctly and are well versed with Pakistan’s ideology. The ideologues may be low on liberal content of their pronouncements but are high on nuisance value and the amount of noise generated. Thus professor Ghafoor and General Hameed Gul get the centre stage in the nation’s psyche in spite of their poor showing in the elections and the verdict of the masses against extremism.   There is no doubt that the conditions are ripe for change as the advent of the electronic media and cyberspace brings an unprecedented possibility of free exchange of ideas. But to inform and mould ideas to suit the needs of a modern and progressive state far better schooling in ideas is required than is being offered at present. Right now the scale is balanced evenly between forces of progress and obscurantism but to tip it on the side of progress the initiative will have to be captured by those who understand the prerequisites of a liberal and enlightened tomorrow but choose to remain silent. The elite need to throw off the cloak of their elitism and speak louder and more often to counter the revolutionary ideologues (e.g. Maulana Fazlullah and his soul mates) that may be all set to reverse the gains made painstakingly by the liberal segments of the society since the creation of Pakistan.  With the resources of the age of information and ubiquitous presence of the Internet the people, even in the remote areas of Pakistan, should have better options to tune in to than the infamous Mullah Radio.  From ATTO (Association of the Tuned Out) 



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