[FoME] Publikation: Pakistanische Medien zwischen Demokratisierung und Radikalisierung

Christoph Dietz christoph.dietz at CAMECO.ORG
Mo Sep 28 09:35:34 CEST 2009

Between radicalisation and democratisation in an unfolding conflict:
Media in Pakistan
Copenhagen: International Media Support, 2009, 52 p.



After nine years of military rule, Pakistan today finds itself in the
second year of a challenging transition to democracy. Unlike previously
unsuccessful transitions to democracy, this transition is characterised
by the presence of a newly liberalised mass media. This can prove to be
to be a crucial – and positive – factor, but only if the media can
assume a role as a watchdog of democracy. Even though Pakistan’s media
is vibrant this is a difficult task, because the media is faced with a
number of challenges. By highlighting these challenges, this report
seeks to focus on how the Pakistani media is affected by, and functions
under, the conflict currently unfolding. Furthermore, the report
outlines a series of recommendations that can support Pakistan’s media
in facing future challenges.

Media landscape
Pakistan has a vibrant media landscape, which in spite of political
pressure and direct bans that they are sometimes subject to from the
state, the media enjoys independence to a large extent. After having
been liberalised in 2002, the television sector experienced a media
boom. In the fierce competitive environment that followed commercial
interests became paramount and quality journalism gave way to
sensationalism. Although the radio sector has not seen similar growth,
independent radio channels are numerous and
considered very important sources of information – especially in the
rural areas. 

The Pakistani media landscape reflects a multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic
and class-divided society. There is a clear divide between Urdu and
English media. Urdu media, particularly the newspapers, are widely read
by the masses – mostly in rural areas. The English media is urban and
elite-centric, is more liberal and professional compared to the Urdu
media. English print, television and radio channels have far smaller
audiences than their Urdu counterparts, but have greater leverage among
opinion makers, politicians, the business community, and the upper
strata of society.

Media and conflict
Pakistan ranks as the most deadly country in the world for journalists.
The security and safety situation in the conflict-affected areas, the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and North West Frontier
Province (NWFP), are the most grievous. Here journalists face
propaganda, threats, coercion, and targeted killings. Some areas are
effectively no-go areas for journalists; and the journalists working in
the conflicts epicentres have adapted to selfcensorship in order to not
antagonise the conflicting parties. As a result, curbs have been put on
the free flow of information and some areas in FATA and NWFP and
Balochistan suffer from a dearth of information – or an outright
information vacuum. There is a great need to provide journalists with
improved security through risk-awareness training and conflict sensitive
journalism. Pakistani media have not only been caught up in this violent
conflict, but also in a war of words, ideologies and propaganda. FATA
and NWFP have more than a hundred radical, illegal hate speech radios
and the mainstream media have been subjected to a radical agenda as

The media coverage of the regional conflicts within Pakistan and how
these relate to the conflict in Afghanistan is either very rudimentary
or stereotypical, and does not contribute to a greater understanding of
the interwoven challenges from extremism that the two neighbours face.

The main recommendations suggested in the report are:
– Improve the safety of journalists and media workers through
improved monitoring, risk awareness and conflict sensitive journalism
training, development of risk response mechanisms, and advocacy and
– Promote Pakistani-Afghan media relations through dialogue forums
and professional cooperation.
– Address the information vacuum and media distortion through
awareness-raising on radicalisation of media, and through strengthening
radio outlets and by the use of innovative use of new and traditional
media in FATA, NWFP and Balochistan.
– Strengthen investigative journalism through training and through
funding that can subsidise journalists wishing to undertake larger
investigative projects.
– Promote the establishment of a self-regulatory mechanism that can
improve standards for Pakistani journalism.

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