Role of media and national security

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Naveed Aman Khan

POST 9/11 when in hot pursuit of the most wanted Osama Bin Laden, America decided to attack Afghanistan, international media rushed to cover this devastating and nasty situation in 2001. By then I had been writing on Afghanistan war for an English Daily. Pre-9/11 American media had been justifying invasion on Osama Bin Laden and Afghanistan. American media had always been supporting its State policies. Post Afghanistan war chapters of Iraq, Libya and Syria were opened. At the same time Iran, Palestine and Pakistan were made subjects of media. I found high level of compositions, narratives in news, analysis, columns and letters to the editors. Angles, style and point of views portrayed in the media had been source of learning.
Highly responsible professional media experts had successfully been protecting American national interests likewise is Indian media. During that particular time post-9/11 I had been keenly watching different American Tv channels and going through the news, articles, letters to the editors, political and defence analysis and columns very attentively and critically. By then I had been noticing expertise of American lobbyists and propagandists of leading most influential and credible dailies published from different parts of the country like “The Baltimore Sun”, “The Boston Globe”, “The Christian Science Monitor”, “The Herald Sun”, “The Houston Chronicle”, “ The Los Angeles Times”, “The New York Times”, “The San Francisco Chronicle”, The Wall Street Journal and “The Washington Post”.
During Musharraf regime tens of private Channels were given licences carelessly without giving proper media code of conduct. It was the same time when Pakistan was set ablaze by the worst wave of terrorism. Resultantly, being very immature and irresponsible non professional media, terrorism and terrorists had been covered with more terror impact . Live coverage of the terrorist attacks with scattered body parts of the innocents killed had repeatedly been shown on television screens with horrible sound effects and horror creating accents. This non professional presentation served the purpose of the masterminds of the terrorist attacks badly damaging our national interests. Media demoralized our nation and portrayed our country as scattered and terrorists land in the entire world. By that time media code of conduct should have been finalised and strictly observed. Afterwards a segment of media started bulldozing State institutions without knowing and understanding the importance of its effects and damages.
In the year 2005 I authored 478-page book “Role of American Media Post 9/11”. In this book I have quoted news, letters to the editors, analysis and columns from top ten most influential and credible newspapers of the United States of America as evidence for professional journalists and intelligentsia for learning. After publication of my book on this subject in 2005 for the first time highly graded think tank “Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies” organised an excellent seminar on the role of media. Chairman of the thank tank Major General (R) Saad Khattak and Managing Director Abdullah Khan conducted the seminar quite impressively. The role of media in national security in nation building can hardly be over emphasized. Pakistan has been facing various internal and external challenges. One of such challenges is its fight against terrorism and extremism where Pakistan has achieved enviable success, though struggle continues. Pakistan is also facing Hybrid War where media could act as a critical fourth pillar of the State.
The question is, in Pakistan’s context, whether it plays its role as a facilitator to the other organs of the State or creating hindrances for them. Media acting as vanguard of the national security always remains a requirement to achieve policy objectives at national and international levels. All around the globe, national media is allowed to criticise governments but State’s policies are not only protected but advocated too by their national media. In Pakistan, State’s policies are seldom supported by the mass media. Mass media of any country plays a vital role in the process of national building which may include creating awareness on national issues, promoting national cohesion, advancing and advocating coherence among different segments of the society, boosting moral of the nation, promoting national and ideological values, protecting invisible borders and creating sense of nationhood and pride among the citizens of the State. A serious question arises whether Pakistan’s mass media plays its role in nation building or not. Therefore, there was a need to deliberate upon the situation and highlight ways and means to create a sense of harmony between policies of the State and the mass media.
— The writer is political analyst based in Islamabad.

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