Media Blackout: Networking News inside Pakistan

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Session Title:

  • Media Politics

Presentation Title:

  • Media Blackout: Networking News inside Pakistan

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Abstract:

  • Until Nov 3rd 2007, the only images of Pakistan, that people living outside it must remember seeing in the news, were of bearded men chanting slogans against a manifestation of freedom or liberty in the country. However, since that day Pakistan is being associated with a struggle for freedom instigated by representatives from the Institution of Justice in Pakistan. This struggle actually began on March 9,2007 when General Musharraf removed the Chief Justice from his position. After a stand-off with the lawyers of the country the chief justice was re-instated by the government a few months later. Media coverage of lawyers demonstrations and debates on television, radio and in newspapers was an integral factor in the cause gaining growing support from the public and the eventual re-instatement of the Judge. Before emergency declaration on Nov 3, the issue under review by judges of the Supreme Court was whether President Musharraf was eligible for re-election or not and there were chances of the verdict coming against the General.

    By viewing other Pakistanis taking sides in this struggle for power between the ruling Army General and the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan have the citizens of the country and political parties reacted similarly. How has coverage in terms of pictures and news changed perceptions on Pakistan internationally? How is media being used to support the cause of both the government and the agitators? There was a finality in the action by the government on Nov 3 when it declared Emergency, placed the judges of the Supreme Court under house arrest and within hours swore new judges to take their place. This was parallel to to the action taken against independent channels broadcasting news on radio and television. How have the supporters of the movement to revive the abandoned Constitution used internet and other networking to stay informed? This paper would like to give a view from inside the country. It will also elaborate on the other methods, from street graffiti to illegal dish antennas, employed by people to get access to news and to make news during the course of this conflict.

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