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November 20, 2019

PhD thesis defended: Scholar says prolonged war on terror left :deep imprints on media


November 20, 2019

KaracPESHAWAR: The long war on terror left deep imprints on the media both positive and adverse as it saw tremendous expansion, but lost much of its freedom due to the countless pressures exerted on the media houses and journalists by the warring sides.

This was the main finding of the PhD research of Dr Yousaf Ali, who successfully defended on Tuesday his thesis on “War on terror and media in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Tribal Areas of Pakistan (2004-2014)”.

The public defense was held at the Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar. It was attended by a number of academicians, media professionals and students.

Prominent among those who attended by public defense were Prof DrIjaz Khan, who was also the supervisor of the scholar, Dr Saadia Sulaiman, external examiner, Dr Nasreen Ghufran and Dr Emirullah Khan, internal examiners, Dr Minhas Majeed Khan, chairperson, Department of International Relations, Dr Tauqeer Alam, Registrar of the Islamia College University, Professor Dr Mohammad Hussain, Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar and others.

Presenting his thesis, Yousaf Ali, who is a senior journalist affiliated with The News International, said that at the very onset of the war against terror there was only one state-run television channel in Pakistan.

He said soon the number of TV channels crossed the figure of 100, including 47 covering news and current affairs. Besides, 104 FM radio stations were established, while over two-dozen pirated FM radios remained operational as well.

The scholar pointed out that there were a total of 2,000 journalists in the country before 2004, including a couple of hundred from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and former tribal areas.

He added that the number rose to 18,000 in the country with roughly 2,000 from KP and the merged tribal districts.

He maintained that journalism became a popular discipline of studies in universities across the country during the period under study and 20 new departments of journalism and media communication were established. He said this brought the tally to 32, several of which were offering MPhil and PhD courses.

The scholar said journalists started getting better job opportunities. A sense of competition also emerged among the employers and media owners, resulting in better working conditions and more reasonable pay packages for the working journalists.

He said the international media was attracted towards Pakistan due to the war on terror and big media houses sent their correspondents to the country, including Peshawar.

This helped, he argued, the local media and journalists a lot as they secured jobs for working with prominent journalists from across the world.

The scholar said while all these positive things were happening, different quarters felt the need for the journalists to be on their side and in the process only a few used fair means.

He pointed out that most of the stakeholders used negative tactics to put pressure on media. Journalists were tortured, kidnapped and even murdered.

As many as 92 media professionals were killed in the country, 32 from KP and former Fata during the period under study and the number of slain journalists rose to 123 with 42 in KP and former FATA, he pointed out.

The senior journalist said several media houses and press clubs suffered direct attacks and intervention into the news rooms of different media houses were made by militant extremists as well as government agencies to keep media under control, he further said.

The major finding of the thesis was that all those pressures on the media houses and journalists made it difficult for the media people to practice free and independent journalism.

Owing to the lack of media freedom, the real questions about the war and prolonged wave of militancy remained unanswered and confusion prevailed, he concluded.