Journalist, author and media personality Sohail Warraich from GEO network, presented a talk on Media Ethics in wake of recent controversies in Pakistan. Sohail Warraich is a renowned journalist in Pakistan who has served the biggest news media groups in Pakistan (Jang and Geo News) for many years and he is famous for his signature show on television Ek Din Geo k Sath. He has been involved in GEO Media Group since its launch in early 2000 and he has done tremendous work in the field of Journalism. He has also authored two books Ghaddar Koun and Qatil Kaun that are very well-read and well versed.
During the talk held at Information Technology University (ITU) on 26th June, he said that the media needs to be free in Pakistan otherwise citizens will just switch over to international news channels such as BBC or Voice of America. Nowadays, international media sources quote Pakistani news but this will change if our freedom of press is curtailed. He also vocalized the fact that Pakistan needs to have a more conducive environment for journalists. He said that there should be a code of ethics for journalists to ensure that they make less mistakes.
Sohail Warraich talked about the need for Pakistan to have an alternative narrative to solve its national crisis. He said, “The crisis is common – everybody is to be blamed and everybody is to be praised. If we go down, we go down collectively. If the politicians are bad, then what the military has created in Pakistan is also not good.” He said that the crisis in Pakistan is “collective and common” so the solution needs to be “collective and common” as well.
He mentioned that when he was young, only PTV used to be available on television. PTV always narrated stories that painted Pakistan as “full of roses with no thorns, no issues”. So he grew up with the narrative that Pakistan is only progressing. However, in this age of Information Technology, everyone can find out exactly where Pakistan and its students, media and politicians stand. So he suggested that we find out Pakistan’s problems and try to come up with a collective solution.
He said that Pakistan needs an alternative narrative that can change all of us because nations are built and changed on narratives. If you go through Pakistan’s history in 1906 when the Muslim League was created, the majority of Muslims did not agree with them. The 1937 elections proved this when the majority of Muslims voted for the Congress party but within nine years the narrative was changed. The Muslim League won the elections and the Pakistani narrative succeeded. There were no Shias, Sunnis, and Ahmadis; there were only Muslims under the umbrella of Quaid-e-Azam. This was the narrative that was needed to create a separate Muslim state. And this is how a narrative can change the nation. Sohail Warraich commented that in order to make a new narrative in Pakistan, we need to decode the old narrative and enemies of the state in order to evolve a better strategy for Pakistan.
He also said that the new narrative must have education as its primary focus. Social and economic mobility can be achieved through education and we should strive to adopt education as a philosophy. He said that we need to encourage the entire education sector in Pakistan as well as the Higher Education Commission. Improvements can be made by increasing the budget allocated to the educational sector.
He said that the fault in our narrative is that we are modern and we follow modern principles but this contradiction needs to be aligned with our old principles. He cited the example of Japan which has preserved all of its old traditions and adopted all modern technologies and innovations as well. He also stated that no society can survive without culture. The film industry in our country has declined but no one has done anything about it. He mentioned that we are proud of being Pakistani’s yet we rush over to watch Indian movies. “Kia yeh khula tazzad nhi,” said Sohail Warraich to loud applause by the audience. He said that we should strive to compete with other countries in these fields.
When he ended his talk, Mr. Sohail Warraich received a standing ovation from the audience and he was presented with a gift of appreciation by Mr. Amjad Saleemi, Treasurer of Information Technology University.