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National drama

Published Jun 16, 2012 11:07pm


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BRANDISHING a copy of the Quran, business tycoon Malik Riaz makes serious allegations about the chief justice in press conferences and television talk shows. Lawyers opine in front of cameras at length while hearings involving their clients are under way. Talk-show hosts go after each other in social media and on live television. During breaks the camera keeps rolling, revealing an alarming familiarity between politicians, journalists and big — and corrupt — business. And now the Supreme Court is in on the game, going after the media in a televised full-court meeting designed to confront that industry on its own turf. Pakistan’s latest national crisis, in which rivalries among some of the country’s most influential and important people and institutions have been played out in a shockingly public fashion, started out as overblown drama and is now descending into farce.

Yes, the issues involved are extremely serious: high-level corruption possibly involving the supreme judiciary, media ethics and suspicions about Mr Riaz’s real motives. Is he simply a frustrated briber, or has someone promised him a bigger prize? These matters are not insignificant, and they need to be exposed. But much of that could have taken place less publicly — through legal channels, for example — and less hysterically, avoiding some of the drama that is distracting from a host of other problems and making average Pakistanis lose what little faith they still have in the country. Instead, the very open back-and-forth seems designed to settle scores and attract attention rather than solve the real issues at stake. Mr Riaz could have opted for legal routes if he thinks he has been wronged. Instead, he is still dangling the carrot of further revelations in press conferences yet to come. Against the backdrop of a case that has raised questions about the chief justice, the SC has simply appeared defensive by broadcasting its attempts to uncover violations possibly committed by certain talk-show hosts. Meanwhile, the media has been focused mainly on keeping audiences hooked to a steady diet of drama — words like ‘dhamaka’ and ‘zalzala’ are bandied about casually and accomplish nothing more than raising viewers’ blood pressure — and on individual journalists using airtime to take swipes at each other or establish their own moral uprightness.

The net result of all this posturing and duelling? Some evidence of corruption has come to light. But Malik Riaz and Arsalan Iftikhar have yet to be investigated. Questions about the chief justice’s possible involvement remain unanswered. The media has only called into question its own independence. What have we achieved? Lots of sound and fury, signifying not much at all.

Comments (13) Closed

mangesh sird Jun 17, 2012 04:58am
v v sad state of affairs...
taha Jun 17, 2012 11:36am
our electronic media is more than rubbish from its first day our media every time criticized in negative way to current elected Govt. and becoming the major cause of stress and anarchy in our society and badly going against elected Govts it has confused a lay man to decide whether democracy is good or bad thing for our society.
farooq khan Jun 17, 2012 09:36am
Pakistan is facing far bigger and worse problems and threats from external world whereas media is busy to exercise its job to accomplish its own selfish ends. Media in Pakistan making jokes of the current so called civilian set up in pakistan and its people. Media never talk bluntly about the real policy maker and policy formulation masters (GHQ). My request to the general masses of pakistan is that, there should be a movement started against media in order to rectify its role.
khurram khalid Jun 17, 2012 02:37pm
It must be ascertained if the CJ is involved in this corruption scam or not. If he is found to have known about his family’s corruption and hid it then the case should be referred to the Supreme Judicial Council.
Saad Jun 17, 2012 07:28am
Waiting to see how low these power players can go. I am extremely impressed by Prime Minister's performance as yet.
Maroof Alam Jun 17, 2012 07:17am
Pakistani media is worse than anything...
Pervez Jun 17, 2012 06:30am
Please, please can we not talk about the miseries and injustices that normal , average Pakistani is going through , made much , much worse by the current corrupt , crooked so called government .
Muhammad Khan Jun 17, 2012 05:47pm
Media freedom is being miss used in Pakistan and it is apprantenly becoming a media trial for every situation the occurs. We must leave somethings to experts to evaluate and decide rather than have a meaid trial for every occurance
Dr.asad Jun 17, 2012 01:37pm
No doubt that an average and neutral pakistani is loosing his hope on remaining institutions.importantly any of conspiracy, baking undercover, should be surfaced. People were looking with hopeful eyes on judiciary and media voiced as third and fourth pillars of state. But it seems to naive eyes that there is a very big drama has been hatched to malign these institutions. Significantly these are two final walls against corruption and mismanagement. So, it is the responsibility of civil society to support these falling giants otherwise the whole nation would be on back footing.
Iftikhar Husain Jun 17, 2012 11:23am
It seems the only intitution working in Pakistan is the supreme court others are only bystander. The supreme court has become the trouble shooter of all the problem of the state. PM President and the Parliament sit and watch.
abushinawar Jun 17, 2012 01:59pm
The basic question is unanswered every where and no one has turned to look into it. The two member bench of SC has directed to Attorney General to conduct an inquiry. If the inquiry commission asks CJ to appear before or not it to testify or answer few questions like whether he knows or not about dealings and business of his son or any possible link or when he came to know about the activities of his and why he delayed to take an action? if some one knows plz share.
Syed Hamid Ahmed Jun 17, 2012 02:30am
This on going and long running circus must come to a stop, SC must stop posturing to media and need to get serious about its basic responsibility of providing fair and unbiased justice to common people. Pakistan already had suffered a lot solely due to SC and especially CJP's continuous interference in government matters and encroaching into the sovereign territories of other state institutions like ECP, NAB and especially the domain of executive which have seen unprecedented interference by courts. SC is not Holy Cow and must not be treated as such. Opposition must call a spade a spade and must encouraging the SC to stay within its constitutional bound. Supporting unconstitutional steps by SC in hope to weaken the government does not serve the grater purpose of serving the nation.
khurram khalid Jun 17, 2012 02:53am
Very well written.