Media curbs in Pakistan in 2007

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My mind was filled with terse memories of 2007 after reading about the curbs on the media during revolution in Egypt. Pakistan was going through the toughest phase of its time in 2007 but the situation was not a revolution like in Pakistan. I could witness the events and analyze them better as compared to the past upheals as in 2007 I was not only a university graduate but a media person too.
The same television channels which were opened during General Pervez Musharraf era, the president of Pakistan from 1999-2008 were banned by him due to his clash with the Judiciary. It was the first time happened in any country’s history that the Chief Justice of Supreme Court was deposed by the President of Pakistan. As a result, there was a start of protests in Pakistan. These protests were waged by Civil Society,NGOs,lawyers,political parties and different organizations.All had one demand that was ’Restore the chief Justice’.The broadcast media started to cover those events and one day my channel paid the price of its daring job when my office in Islamabad was attacked by the police .Our whole staff was inside the building,all the female staff was escorted to editing room and shunned by our male staff to not step out as they didn’t want the police to misbehave with us.Then the information Minister came in and handled the situation.That was just the start,afterwards my channel alongwith other private channels were shut down .But our channel faced the brunt of Musharaf’s wrath to an extent that we were on air after 70 days of ban.During these days I remember doing our talk show on the footpaths.
I was reading in Stephen Franklin’s article published in Columbia Journalism Review,March/April 2011 Edition and trying to delineate the similarities between Pakistan sitautin in 2007 and Egyptian revolution .In Egypt too the channels which were showing what was happening on the streets, were stopped to on air. The journalists were prisoned or banned to come on screen .Some journalists changed their positions either pro government or anti government. All the same, we have seen in Pakistan in 2007.The same happened in the previous military regimes too. But the media curbs in 2007 have proved to be a blessing for the broadcast media. As it has got strong roots in the common man of Pakistan who is looking upto the television channels to enhance his knowledge about the country and the world.
The media has to show what is happening in streets as it is the voice of the people.It is the way to transmit their voices to the authorities which are shying away from the facts. It is the people who elects and selects the rulers but at the end it is the people who knock at their conscience and ask them to either mend their ways or leave the scene. If media just shows the mirror to someone and the mirror doesn’t show them the fake face then it’s not the fault of media but the fault lies with the persons who is not accepting the reality.
A scene of protest by journalists in 2007Protest by journalists in 2007

About Lubna Benjamin

I am a broadcast journalist from Pakistan.Working as Associate Producer with the Talk Show Capital Talk of 'Geo Television'.

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