An external view of the vernacular press in Pakistan
Hailing from a conflict ridden socio-political background in another neighbouring country – Sri Lanka, it was not much difficult for me to understand the trends and styles of Pakistani media fabric since both countries share many social, cultural and political dynamics. But in an honest note I must admit the fact that my attempt here is not to be a ‘pundit’ or a ‘master’ on Pakistani media and its present challenges. My ‘fact finding mission’ was just confined to mere two weeks in Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi, apart from my frequent visits to Pakistan.
The main objective of my short research was to look into the professional standards of the vernacular print media in Pakistan. With logistical assistance of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) I monitored some vernacular daily publications in Islamabad and Peshawar, interviewed journalists, editors, publishers and some civil society activists. Thus, this short report would shed a light on the present status and challenges to the vernacular press in Pakistan along with some recommendations.
Radicalised media has become an unshaken – if not growing – challenge within the highly militarised and volatile Pakistani society. Though relatively independent compared to some neighbouring countries in the South Asian region, Pakistani media – especially the regional vernacular press – is under influence and pressure from the militant groups, security forces as well as some political and economic interest groups. Experts cite numerous reasons for this phenomenon which would be discussed in the following paragraphs.