Senator says CII strengthening Taliban’s narrative

Published March 19, 2014
Senator Farhatullah Babar. — File photo
Senator Farhatullah Babar. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Senator Farhatullah Babar addressed a round table conference titled ‘Media, Extremism and Islamic Narrative’, organised by a think-tank, Islamabad Debates, and an NGO, Insaf Network Pakistan, on Tuesday.

Mr Babar said that, unfortunately, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has been strengthening the narrative of the Taliban.

“In 1978, the CII recommended that Pakistan should have ‘Kalma Tayyaba’ on its national flag, and then the Mujahideen borrowed that idea,” he said.

“Today, there is a section of the media which is controlled by the militants. Maulana Fazlullah started the trend, and now there are over 50 publications of the militants. Moreover, the militants have started threatening the media persons, but the state has failed to provide them with protection,” he said.

“Now, it has become a battle of the narratives, but we have left the narrative of Islam upon the clerics. The CII recommended that the DNA should not be considered as primary evidence in rape cases and child marriages should be allowed, but unfortunately the reaction of the civil society was not as strong as it should have been,” he said.

Mr Babar said that sometimes the media plays a role in increasing extremism. He cited the example of how the number of casualties during the Lal Masjid operation, in 2007, was exaggerated by the media.

Senator Afrasiab Khattak, who was the moderator of the dialogue, said that the people of East Pakistan played a major role in the Pakistan movement and they also resisted against the martial laws.

Chairperson Islamabad Debates, Sajjad Bukhari, said: “The media, willingly or unwillingly, played its role in increasing extremism, by sensitising the issues. However, there are a number of journalists who have sacrificed their lives, after refusing to follow the instructions of extremists.”

“Because of the wrong policies of the state, extremism has increased to such an extent that it has become a threat to the existence of the country,” he said.

Journalist Mazhar Abbas said that although people did not vote for religious parties, these parties still outsmarted the liberal parties by playing their cards right.

“1973 Constitution is a brain child of the PPP, but the religious parties hijacked it and claimed that they have made it. Liberal political parties always looked for consensus, but the religious parties never compromised on their demands,” he said.

“Media tried to convince politicians that they should not repeat what they did in East Pakistan, but the politicians ignored all of the suggestions. Today, the news channels have become infotainment channels,” he added.

Journalist Raza Rumi said that more than 12 years have passed, but a proper code of ethics has not been devised for the electronic media, and if there is any, it is not being implemented.

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