Does the National Action Plan not apply to Pakistani Ahmadis?

This is a Pakistan where police officers are frequently complicit to violence against Ahmadis, the school curriculum panders to prejudice, and it feels like every few weeks new names are added to the list of Ahmadis murdered at the hands of misguided psychopaths who are brainwashed and influenced by Pakistan’s irresponsible, vast and well-oiled media machinery

The media – electronic and print – has long been complicit in the criminalisation and the erasure of the Ahmadi community

Even though Pakistan has its share of liberal and mainstream media, which sometimes breaks its silence and editorialises against the injustices faced by Ahmadis, it is the Urdu-language media that dominates and reaches the critical masses of Pakistan

A simple Google search of editorial archives comparing the vernacular English media with Urdu publications confirms what most of us have accepted as fact: Urdu media leads, in leaps and bounds, when it comes to slandering the Ahmadi population and broadcasting the false propaganda which often is the motivation for violence

For instance, an op-ed in a leading Urdu daily reads, “When the evil (fitna) of Qadianism took root in the Pak-Indian subcontinent at the end of the nineteenth century/beginning of the twentieth numerous notables took it upon themselves to uproot it and crush its head…” The piece concludes with a call to arms noting that, “Jihad against Qadianism [is] a jihad against Satanism and imperialism

” Another popular Urdu publication leads with a bold and provocative headline that alleges: “Qadianis have conspired to break up Pakistan through support of anti-Islam movements”

And, as of last week, Urdu media has conquered another unfortunate first with the printing of anti-Ahmadi adverts calling for charitable donations to assist in the mission to eradicate the Ahmadi population

Broadcast media is no less evil

Over the years comments by televangelists like Aamir Liaquat have led to supporters blindly following their favourite commentators

The result is violence, and the murder of Ahmadis in the name of Islam, jihad, and some other deluded reasons conjured up by deluded minds to justify the taking of an innocent human life

What is striking is that we have no shortage of prima facie and empirical evidence to confirm that Pakistani media has created a hell-on-earth atmosphere for the country’s four million Ahmadis

Today’s Pakistan is no better or worse than the Pakistan of the 50s when riots first surged against Ahmadis, or the Pakistan of the 70s when we amended the constitution in a most deplorable way completely eradicating any chances of peaceful coexistence

In today’s Pakistan, the media is complicit in all attacks against Ahmadis – attacks that range from low-level assaults and name-calling to the more sinister death threats and coldblooded murder

Assaults that the media has not only encouraged but, in a most macabre fashion, has made eerily palatable and acceptable for mass consumption

As all my fellow journalists will attest to, the only currency our profession accepts is that of unbiased objectivity

And as journalists, we see daily the way in which human nature is hard-wired to respond to negativity more than positivity

In fact, research indicates that it takes approximately five positive impressions to overcome one negative one

Because the media fraternity has immense amounts of power to control, build, or dismantle impressions and stereotypes, it is not only an ethical obligation but also a professional one that we journalists steer clear of the pejorative, and emotionally loaded labels that only serve to stir up the easily frenzied and mouldable masses

Anti-Ahmadi editorials and adverts such as the one that appeared last week in a local newspaper tarnishes the reputation of and strips away the credibility that is inherent to a media organisation whose very purpose is to empower, represent, and fairly report on populations in their communities

It wasn’t too long ago when the American press would run lost and found ads for runaway slaves

Malcolm X was one of the few to have spoken out against the dire consequences for both the psyches and lived experiences of black people who were targeted and turned into scapegoats by the mainstream media during those times

“This is the press, an irresponsible press,” said Malcolm X

“It will make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal

If you aren’t careful, the newspaper will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing

” For Ahmadis in Pakistan today, Malcolm X’s grim warning remains distressingly relevant

The overburdened and marginalised Ahmadis of Pakistan are left to pick up the pieces in the wake of brutality and neglect by media folk – specifically, the media folk who recklessly enjoy positions of power, trust and influence

What is especially striking is the nonchalance of the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) to take action

It leaves one confused as to why we ever bother to make policy and law in the first place

Take the National Action Plan (NAP) as an example

Even though it was recently enacted specifically to criminalise the proliferation of hate material, there are yet to be criminal charges against anyone running a publication peddling anti-Ahmadi hate

In the 1970s psychologists developed a series of experiments to demonstrate how emphasising differences between groups leads to mistrust and hostility

One study even found that wearing different coloured shirts was enough for groups to begin displaying signs of mistrust

In other words, the constant assault on Ahmadis in the mainstream media has conditioned and primed mainstream Pakistani society to know only fear of the ‘other’

Today, Pakistan is burdened with religious prejudice

By and large, we are a country comprised of a mostly misinformed, poorly educated citizenry that loves to out-Muslims one after another

While not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, nonetheless, this should chill any God-fearing Pakistani to the bone

It should also offend the conscience of every Pakistani

The fight for your Ahmadi neighbour’s right to life, liberty and security is nothing short of a fight for justice for any and all other Pakistani citizens

Indeed, it is inseparable from the struggle for democracy itself

Date:07-Aug-2016 Reference:View Original Link