Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim majority country where 96.4 percent people affiliated themselves with Islam as their religion. (theguardian, 2011). The religious minoritities consist of Christians, Sikhs, Ahamdis , Hindus which make less than 5 percent of the total population of Pakistan according to the state owned Population Census Organization. (www.census.gov.pk) The state has define Non-Muslim as “non Muslim means a person who is not a Muslim an d includes a person belonging to Christian , Hindu , Sikh, Budhist or Parsi community , a person of Quadiani group or Lahori group(who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other name ) , or a Bahai , and a person belonging to any of the scheduled castes .” (The Constitution of Islamic republic of Paksitan)
Minorities in Pakistan are the growing victim of radicalization and talibanization in the country. In recent years an increase in the frequency of violence related crimes perpetuated against minorities has been observed. Pakistan institute of peace study has reported a 53 percent increase in the crimes against minorities in year 2012 as compared to 2011. (PIPS, 2013)
This alarming trend has sent the shock waves of terror throughout the nation and the entire world. Most of the atrocities are committed by the extremist groups e,g Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), Sipah-e-Mohamadi Pakistan (SMP), Jundullah, Sunni Tehrik (ST), Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan (TJP). (Yusuf, 2012).Most of these organizations are banned by the Pakistan government due to their alleged involvement in sectarian killings by the hand of their militant wings. The Mudrassa education culture is also one of the causes of growing religious intolerance. (Chandran, 2003)The most tragedy struck areas include cities/regions of Karachi, Quetta, Gilgit and Kurram Agency where multiple problems are faced by the minorities. (Group, 23 January 2014)
Electronic media in Pakistan has progressed rapidly during the last decade. A number of new news channels have been started which is an indicator of a relatively free press as compared to the era of military rule where freedom of expression was a rare commodity.
Electronic media in Pakistan has given coverage to minority related issues and problems. A number of incidents were highlighted and given primetime coverage which has generated positive response from both government and civil society to get rid of this social evil. Most of the coverage is just about narrating the issue in news and discussions but practical solutions are rarely offered.
– Context of the problem
Evolution of media during the last few years has played a constructive role in the lives of common people of Pakistan. Minorities in Pakistan are under a constant threat of persecution on religious grounds which is an alarming trend. Our research will focus on the role of electronic media in portraying the stereotypes about minorities and what kind of impact is it creating for the populace of religious minorities Pakistan.
Pakistan is a country with a Muslim majority population. There is also a considerable number of non Muslims currently residing in Pakistan. The founding father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s opening speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August, 1947 clearly indicates that the state will provide religious freedom to all the people living in Pakistan. Following is a quote from Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s inaugural speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August, 1947. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan.” (Jinnah, 1947)
Ahamdis were declared as non Muslim after the constitutional amendment in 1974.The era of General Zia ul Haq is known for radicalization of state and society. Militant wings of sectarian organizations have caused havoc among the minority groups of Pakistan in recent years
Media has played an imperative role in developing constructive attitude in the psyche of the nation. Media has created awareness on the political and social issues by the use of both traditional and electronic resources. Media has been particularly successful in promoting awareness of political issues which is evident by the coverage news channels. The question here is how much and what type of coverage is given to minorities in electronic media.
– Definition of terms
According to the merriam-webster a group of people who are different from the larger group in a country, area, etc., in some way (such as race or religion) can be called as minority. (merriam-webster) .Pakistan is a country with diverse population consisting of multiple ethnic, lingual and religious minorities. In this research paper this term will be use for religious minority groups only.
Electronic media is a term that is usually used in contrast with print media. It is used for broadcast or record medium that use electronic equipment and require electronic encoding for their propagation.
– Literature Review/Research Survey
Condition of minorities in Pakistan and representation of minorities in Pakistani media
The research done by Jinnah Institute indicates that minorities recognize themselves as Pakistani national, but even then they are persecuted on the basis of their religious identity. (Faruqi, 2011)
Munir 2002 has indicated that the religious extremism as the consequence of ‘unholy’ alliance between fundamentalism and military in past has given an opportunity to religious extremist groups to manipulated the media in order to serve their own interests. (Munir, 2002)
Ansari, M. (2006).has reported that life of Ahamadis in Pakistan is in a situation of constant peril. Persecution on the basis of faith has caused havoc for the religious minorities in Pakistan. (Ansari, 2006)
The trend of breaking the story first and to get the highest ranking amongst news channel have compromised the journalistic ethics, non partisanship and objective reporting .This has negative impact on the lives of minorities. The author believes that if the current trend in media goes uncheck likes this, it would create an atmosphere of religious intolerance. (International Media Support, July 2009)
Syed in 2006 examines in his research of two leading Urdu-language newspapers between February and July 2006 found out that there is overwhelming emphasis on Pakistan’s Islamic identity, which undermines other forms of identity including religious facet of minorities. (Syed, 2008)
In a study done by Shazad Ali about the portrayal of minorities in Pakistani newspaper the author suggested that there is a positive coverage of minorities with the exception of Ahamdi community. The maximum number of issues were highlighted about Christian community in the elite English newspapers of Pakistan. (Ali, 2010)
In another research done by the Qandeela Ambreen corroborates that the coverage of minorities in newspapers of Pakistan e.g. daily dawn, The News and nation is mostly positive. (QandeelaAmbreen, January 2014)
Bila Khaled conducted a study on “Minorities’ Stereotypes in Pakistani Films” which was presented in Official Conference Proceedings The European Conference on Film & Documentary 2014.The study found out that the negative stereotypes about minorities are reinforced through Pakistani films and is one of the major causes of embarrassment for the minorities in Pakistan. (Fatah, 2014)
Representation of minorities in international media
The analysis of international media will show that how minorities are depicted by international media. How much and what type of coverage whether positive or negative is given to the issues of minorities.
The research argues that the stereotypes and intolerant opinions are formulated and reinforced through the mainstream media in Denmark and Muslim minority in particular is a victim to it. (Hussain, October 2000)
Minority ownership of media is a rare phenomenon even in America. The research done by Turner, S. Derek and Mark Cooper corroborate that minorities comprise 33 percent of the entire U.S. population, but own a total of only 44 stations, or 3.26 percent of all stations. (Cooper, 2006)
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies focuses on the role of the media in multicultural and diverse ethnic landscape of Europe. It investigated the significance of a range of media through an analysis of a diversity of cultures and cultural practices. (Georgiou, 2005)
Whiteb suggests that mass media organizations needs more hiring from minorities in order to give their due share of positive coverage. The study also suggests us that there is a small change in the representation of minorities as compared to the increase in their population. (Whiteb, 2009)
Gerbner found out that African American population was somewhat given representation on primetime television but other minorities in Unites States were either rare or absent from television. (Gerbner, 1970)
Georgia (2000) described in her research “Mapping Minorities and their Media: The National Context UK
Report” that the British mainstream media is mainly sensitive to issues of racism and minority exclusion, it is probably the reason why Briton is are more tolerant towards minority groups as compared to other Eurocentric countries. (Georgiou M. , 2000)
Opportunities for further research
- This research can provide a platform for further studies about portrayal of religious minorities in digital media.
- It can be helpful to follow a line of investigation about media’s relationship with its audiences.
- It can be helpful for the researchers of political science and humanitarian research projects to eradicate the social evil of persecution of minorities and can also be useful to create practical solutions for this phenomenon.
- This thesis can also be helpful to enhance the scope of current research to evaluate the conditions of minorities in Pakistan done by NGOs and humanitarian organizations
- Government can build up further research on policy and decision making related to minorities and their portrayal on media
– Hypothesis/Research Question
H1 The coverage of minority related issues in electronic media is directly proportional to the number of incidents related to religious minority groups in Pakistan.
Null Hypothesis The coverage of minority related issues in electronic media is inversely proportional to the number of incidents related to religious minority groups in Pakistan
H2 Electronic media is giving positive coverage to minority issues.
Null hypothesis Electronic media is giving negative coverage to minority issues
“Research methodology is a systematic way to solve a problem. It is a science of studying how research is to be carried out. Essentially, the procedures by which researchers go about their work of describing, explaining and predicting phenomena are called research methodology.” (S. Rajasekar, 2006.)
The selection of news programs, news coverage and analysis of minority related issues on digital media of Pakistan will be on the basis of portrayal of minorities that deals with religious persecution or hatred towards a certain religious community.
UNIT OF ANALYSIS
- Current Affair Programs
- News Packages
- News Websites
Programs will be only selected form Pakistani digital media
Coding will be categorizes as positive, neutral and negative labeled as‘+’, ‘0‘, ‘-’ respectively.
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