June 15, 2021
KARACHI—Eminent scholars and journalists have acknowledged that religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan have been overlooked in the country’s mainstream media. They expressed their views on the occasion of a two-day workshop on the media’s role in promoting interfaith harmony, organized by the Pak Institute of Peace Studies.
Journalist Veengas, who has extensively covered minority issues, stressed the need for mobilizing local media on faith pluralism and more coverage of religious minorities, saying that “Sindhi media is more conscious about covering the minorities-related issues.” However, Shahzada Zulfiqar, President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, highlighted that mainstream media was more interested in giving airtime to a politician’s private affairs rather than other significant matters.
Other speakers, including Zia Ur Rehman and Syed Arfeen, said that balanced reporting is essential for promoting equality, harmony, peace, and tolerance in society. They also stressed the need for the diversification of the newsrooms.
Veteran journalist Wusatullah Khan believed that Pakistani society had an inherent tendency to curtail people’s right to free expression on different pretexts. “Even the scanty freedoms that exist in some form in the country are also reserved for the dominant communities,” he stated, adding that “the members of minority groups have no say in the national discourse.”
Sabookh Syed, journalist and head of the Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan, emphasized that critical voices were muffled in Pakistan, and questions were turned down on the grounds of religious sensitivity or national security. According to the speakers, reporting priorities in the media industry is dictated by commercial interests rather than human rights or the public good.
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