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- Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - From Print Edition

Politicians and MNAs from the Fata areas have demanded that licenses be issued for private television and radio channels to function in the tribal areas. At the moment, they point out, only about three or four FM radio stations and some officially run channels serve a population of around five million. There is no reason why these people should not have the same access to information as those who live elsewhere in the country. The demand by the representatives from Fata needs to be taken seriously and measure put in place to bring greater enlightenment into the lives of people by offering them access to the electronic media and all its variety.

This is also important for another reason. It is vital that mindsets be changed in Fata and other areas where militants have a hold and where obscurantism in different forms enjoys a free reign. In some areas people have been exposed to extremely reactionary thinking and practices. In other parts, since even before the advent of militancy, centuries-old norms and customs, at times bordering on barbarity, have persisted, largely because the state either did not see it in its interest to encourage people to change and thus affect the traditional power structure or because of its failure to bring about positive material changes in these areas that could lead to a corresponding change in the way people think. But we must open up minds and expose people to the realities of a modern world. They must have something to look towards other than guns and the limited interpretation of religion that is put before them. Of course Fata also badly needs developments in all kinds of other areas, including health and education. But opening up windows into minds is also an important service and should be utilised as a means to bring about change in a part of the country where war continues to rage.

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