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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Fiddling While Rome Burns!

The electronic media boom despite a lot of positives to offer has exposed people of Pakistan to a barrage of propaganda themes, raw ideas, flimsy discussions, immoral spats, hyper active political cum religious debates, cooking, makeup and fashion designs programmes………all adding up to public frustration who can hardly comprehend the not very noble spirit behind such programmes. Though such frenzy filled expose is helping few thousand smart guys to make unlimited wealth; yet, at the cost of depriving millions of people of mental peace as invention of cable TV, smart phones has made it easy for the uninvited guests to invade our home privacy, remote control availability notwithstanding.

The bizarre variety of internal and external issues confronted by Pakistan is quite worrisome; however, Pakistani electronic, social and print media relentlessly remains busy on covering trivialities, which only add fuel to fire rather than making much productive contributions in helping the nation to identify silver linings. After seeing such callous disregard to public or national interests, the only apt phrase that come to mind is, “Fiddling while Rome Burns”, with the difference that instead of Nero, it is Pakistani media czars, selfish politicians, self serving bureaucrats and fame hungry everybody who is anybody in our land of pure. What is being delivered to public by our most if not all the media houses is frustration, tension, heightened political polarization, ugly sectarian divide, misplaced religious thoughts and objectionable practices, alien culture and domestic or/ and foreign sponsored deceptive propaganda themes. Resultantly, Pakistani society is made to look silly, valueless, frail, immoral, desperately frustrated and illiterate…….that is far from reality nevertheless. The state looks helpless in the face of monstrous media blackmailers with their multiple weaknesses in their hands. But media alone is not to be blamed; as crises of leadership has made our country appear rudderless boat, providing enough reasons to information warriors to prey on visible fault lines. All the same, there are problems in every country however their media does not expose and inflame national fissure to the advantage of hostile forces or cause undue pessimism for own people. The potential of media to play a constructive role in society grooming and opinion making is beyond any doubt quite high, which ought to be made to function in Pakistan by detaching from pettiness.

How can we overcome this menace and get rid of undue tension dumped on our minds and souls. Well there is a short cut and a long term solution to that. First, the short cut: The incumbent government needs to pass a strict code of conduct on the subject through an ordinance which must be implemented ruthlessly through an effective body instead of politicized PEMRA; the violators must face serious monetary penalties, partial or complete ban and even punitive punishments. The long term solutions lies and minimizing the number of channels by making standards higher at par with international standards for obtaining licenses, public education by raising national literacy level, thorough professional grooming of media people preferably from renowned foreign institutions and by laying down well defined qualifications for conducting or even participating in media programmes. The ire one would get from blackmailing mafia by penning down few such lines is well understood; nevertheless, people, government and judiciary will have to fearlessly rein in to induce sobriety, morality and ethics in our all forms of media for allowing positive few to shine and prevail upon the forces of dark. “Whoever controls the media, controls the minds”. (Jim Morrison)

Brigadier(R) Saleem Qamar Butt, SI (M) is a student of International Relations, Defence and Warfare Studies with expertise in Executive Management, Military & Intelligence Diplomacy, Strategic Analyses and Forecast. (

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