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Pakistan Press Foundation

Published Date: Nov 29, 2013

Government to announce positive news about YouTube anytime soon: Secretary

Islamabad: Secretary Information and Broadcasting Dr Nazir Saeed on
Wednesday hinted at “good news” of lifting the ban on the popular
video-sharing website Youtube in coming few days. Speaking at a
conference on "Alternative Media in Pakistan: Opportunities and
Challenges", organised by Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBS) and Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI) with the support of the German
Foreign Office, the secretary also urged media for a constructive
discourse which is in line with national agenda.

He said, "Freedom of speech is essential part of a dynamic democracy,
and the people today have more options to choose their medium of
information."

He said that the government encouraged discussions on issues with a
hope of positive outcome while keeping in view the national agenda. To
elaborate the national agenda, he said that it needed a comprehensive
debate on the media to define certain parameters of national interests.

Responding a question about the ban on YouTube‚ the secretary said
the government would soon announce “positive news” in this regard in
coming few days.

Dr Saeed also emphasised the need for the use of emerging media such
as social networking websites for promotion of progressive agendas in
the country. He remarked that the Ministry of Information was playing an
important role in curtailing negative values and yet encouraging
dialogue for positive change in the country.

German Ambassador Cyril Nunn, while speaking, lauded the courage of
Pakistan journalists in bringing facts to the public. He underscored the
need for promoting progressive discourse through alternative media in
Pakistan. This should help dispel notions of terrorism and conflict with
regards to the country, he added.

He said media was evolving in Pakistan and new generation was more interested in getting news from alternative media sources.

Speaking on the occasion, Matthias Spielkamp, Editor-in-chief,
Irights, Berlin observed that alternative media like blogs had brought
about an enormous change in public discourse as they enabled many people
to have a say over issues of public interests.

Rana Junaid, Researcher, SDPI presented findings from research on
alternative media, which focused on the multifarious meaning of
alternative media in a constantly changing media world.

The term alternative media is fraught with multiple meanings ranging
from community radio shows to mainstream news, he said, adding that
alternative media includes all media and forums, besides mainstream
media such as news channels and daily newspapers.
He further elaborated that the number of social media users in Pakistan
had been on a steady rise over the years, and this had led to mass
dialogue and discourse over various issues in the country.

Nuclear physicist and Director of the Eqbal Ahmed Center for Public
Education, Professor Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, opined that the general mindset
in Pakistan was one in which masses blame all internal ills like
terrorism, poverty, corruption and institutional degradation, among
others, as conspiracies of external forces, discounting local factors
contributing to problems in the country.

He exemplified by playing some of his own home recorded documentaries
and articles to illustrate how the internet could be used as a means of
disseminating rationality and objective thinking to the masses by means
of social media and social networking platforms on the internet, in
order to discourage the commonly held conspiracy-theorist mindset. In
his presentation on “Interactive Community Mobilisation”, Mohammad
Waseem from the Interactive Resource Center, Lahore described how
interactive theater and live performances could be used as effective
means for mass dissemination of important lessons in an entertaining and
engaging way.

He also showcased how theatre performances were used in far-flung
areas to highlight societal evils, such as violence against women, to
those who lack access to primary information and learning resources. He
also lauded citizen participation in terms of contributing to a new era
of citizen journalism, which has set an excellent example of alternative
media for progressive change in Pakistan.

Sabeen Mahmud, Director of Peace Niche, Karachi, in her presentation
on "Overcoming the Tyranny of Traditional Schooling", described the
flaws in the traditional schooling system in Pakistan as being static
and non-flexible rather than dynamic.

In her view, most children were forced to study on various subjects
with complete disregard to their own skills. She exemplified her views
through reading out an excerpt of prose and poetry on the subject in
which various young children were shown to be trapped in classrooms
studying subjects that were entirely opposite of what their true passion
and innate skill was for.