„Mehr als man sieht“

Die junge Journalistin Meera Jamal (28) geriet in Pakistan nach kritischen Berichten in Lebensgefahr – und floh, u.a. mit  Hilfe von „Journalisten helfen Journalisten e.V.“,  nach  Deutschland.  Ihr Kommentar (englische Originalfassung) zur Situation in ihrem Heimatland und zur Rolle westlicher Medien. (s.a. Gefährlicher Einsatz, mediummagazin 3/2009, Seite 51)

„Pakistan: more than meets the eyes:

Though for ages Pakistan has been looked upon as an insignificant dot on the map of the world, over the years with direct or indirect connection of it in the terrorist activities in the western world and beyond, has made it a scariest place on the face of the Earth. Nonetheless the fact remains that the western media has little to say when it comes to Pakistan apart from this. Surprisingly hardly any commoner in the West knows about Pakistan, its demography and civilisation, apart from if they have seen it in news about Talibanisation, involvement in Mumbai Attacks or assassination of Ms Bhutto in the recent Past. Beside this there is hardly any coverage of affairs of the state that are responsible for all of this, which in my humble opinion, is like presenting only one side of the picture to the world.
Pakistan is a country that has population of170 million approximately, and is 61 year old. Before looking at how the Western media should portray Pakistan, one must try and fathom Pakistan and its issue and it would be apt to describe the true character of Pakistani media over the years and moreover what are its limitations.
Pakistan has a lot socio-economic and political problems sitting comfortably in its lap for over decades. Its economy is in a snag owing to its favour to Taliban government in Afghanistan before 9/11 and now because of the sporadic bombblasts, Islamist radicals and suicide attacks within the country.
Yet what the western media tends to overlook is the fact that it is a country that has seen a disastrous stretch of military dictators which, as many believe, even during the democratic phase remain much in power. Apart from all of this, it is a theocratic state in the sense that it has a state religion which has almost all the laws under its belt. Meaning that whatever serves against the purpose of the state religion is looked down upon. Unlike the perception which may arise from this, it has witnessed certain left movements, of which the lawyers movement was significant one, though others on a very small scale, owing to iron-hand treatment by the government and its beneficiaries have either been demobilised or crushed using the very media.
Absence of foreign investigative journalists/analysts, not bound by the very handicapping tactics of the government, leaves much to be desired in the portrayal of the true facts involved in it. Moreover it is seen that majority of the foreign news agencies, channels and newspapers have now compromised on the local journalists working for them. This has been mainly owing to the fact that Pakistan is considered an unsafe place because of brutal butchering of foreigners in the recent past. The local journalists though hardworking and dedicated are constantly under the observation of the government agencies and therefore remain under continuous threat if report independently and freely. Lack of free western media in the country has led to the stage where propaganda by the government and its agencies is not countered with much success. Though, things have changed a little with the mushrooming of the independent and private news TV channels, ending a part of the monopoly of the state-run channel, which needless to say had always seen things through its tinted glasses. Unfortunately the local media is made to bow down easily by the government using some of the well-rehearsed tools like cut in government advertisement (which serve as the backbone for newspaper revenue especially), tax cases, police arrest/harassment of the journalists, creating artificial shortage of newsprints imported from abroad, ban the channel or put it off air,etc. if it wills.
On the whole, there is a common feeling among the people in Pakistan that the western media always portrays them as monsters, whereas the common man over there is suffering too at the hands of terrorism, atrocities of the government and lack of basic human rights. Isn’t it not the responsibility of the western media to enlighten the world about problems that local Pakistanis go through, out of which some prove to be a critical reason for all the mayhem caused within and without the country? Why had the world not seen it coming when there had been a time when Pakistan had seen a lot of sectarian killing, bombblasts and ethnic-killings, various Islamist military training camps (established and funded by the very CIA with the help of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, initially to counter USSR), cross border activities, which according to some, had been harvested by the agencies itself.
Before it is too late to intervene and monitor, if western media takes a step in establishing a network in Pakistan which is not bogged down by any governmental pressure, it will not only give strength to journalist who are one of the threatened species in there, but also help understand the core issues involved in the entire situation.“ –Meera Jamal