Friday, March 26, 2010


March 18, 2010
By Saeed Qureshi
There have been a stream of reports reverberating in the air and rumors doing the rounds that quite a few among the Pakistani journalists can equate themselves with those shady characters stashing their money in the foreign banks. These journalists whose names are well known but better not to be recounted here have made enormous fortunes by using their sharp tongues and lethal nibs of pens against the corrupt politicians and shady government functionaries. Thus far it would be in order if corrupt elements and dishonest power wielders are exposed. But the inexorable power of pen and roller costar influence of media is equally despicable and condemnable if used for taking plots of lands and bags full of money.
We have seen and we know that the journalists use extortion ploys and intimidating tactics to force the men in power for doling out benefits and perks. But it was unimaginable and unheard of that a time would arrive that this unworthy skill would assume such overbearing and gubernatorial proportions that the journalists would be able to rub their shoulders with sleazy millionaires and wealthy tycoons. If the gossip of journalists amassing wealth is wrong then let those accused of and tainted with these questionable conduct should come forward and say with thumping clamor and projected chests to debunk that it was all fabrication and malicious.
We have seen journalists, waxing eloquence with regard to the government servants, the ministers and similar other stalwarts for monetary and mundane benefits such as plot of land and to be included in the foreign glamorous junkets. But that the wholesale loot would also be joined by the sacrosanct media members is a sordid tale that darkens and tarnishes the shimmering face of a profession whose basic motto is to remain steadfast on the right path and not to be swayed and de-tracked by monetary crumbs and mundane temptations.
If media starts condoning the misconduct of the vile leaders and play as a second fiddle to them by projecting them as upright then the noble profession of impartial critique stands buried. The well connected, sharp, crafty and sycophantically among the journalists humble the mighty in the government with their stinging satire and lethal mudslinging till they are silenced by largesse in the form of huge sums, allotment of plots and even ex officio prestigious appointments.
I would not decree or assume that the journalistic community should comprise of only angels and I would not believe nor expect that they and their families should survive merely on bread and water and simultaneously become crusades for humanity and righteousness. The journalist mostly are downtrodden and "have nots"and therefore, are entitled to a shelter, a reasonable level of income and social benefits that can take care of their old age and future. If they have a collateral personal or family business and other visible sources of income, they are to be complimented for serving a profession which is on the whole is thankless, merely carries the genre and luster of job satisfaction and the vibes of a clear and robust conscience. But beyond that if journalism or the sacred pen is placed on sale or auction for the highest bidders and who can pay for the words then it is a travesty and must be scoffed and detested.
But what to say about the robber barons of media who have built castles and mansions and filling their coffers with ill-gotten and hush money to either keep silence or write in favor of the politicians burdened with unaccountable felonious acts, embezzlements and misappropriation of the national wealth with rare abandon and without any qualms of conscience.
So in the television talk shows there are media wizards disseminating their flashy discourses, wise sermons and fuming and eloquent counseling how the government should be run and how state and the nation can be rescued from corrupt and immodest leaders, politicians and bureaucrats. Some of these guys are adept in begging or extorting benefits. Yet others socialize with the occupants of the power corridors and are ready on the drop of the hat to portray their benefactors as guiltless and their opponents as sinners. Such are the lurid and deceitful norms of the media. As such, remorsefully, very few of its members like Ansar Abbasi and a few others belong to that rare breed of media distinguished for their propriety, honorable conduct and for serving the pristine cause of the press with unquestionable merit and unsullied reputation. Ironically, corrupt politicians have corrupted the media as well or the vice versa.

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