One Pakistan News
Published Date: Nov 29, 2013
Govt promoting freedom of speech: Nazir Syed
Islamabad, The current government promotes freedom of speech and
there is likelihood of good news with regards to the ban on
video-sharing website Youtube.
This was expressed by Dr. Nazir Syed, Secretary Information, while
chairing a session during a two-day International Conference on ‘Alternative Media in Pakistan-Opportunities and Challenges’ here
The conference is being jointly organized by Heinrich Boell Stiftung
(HBS) and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), with support
of the German Foreign Office.
Dr. Syed also emphasized the need for use of emerging media such as
social networking websites for promotion of progressive agendas in the
country. He remarked that the Ministry of Information is playing an
important role in curtailing negative values and yet encouraging
dialogue for positive change in the country.
Dr. Cyrill Nunn, German Ambassador to Pakistan spoke about 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.
Also speaking at the occasion, Matthias Spielkamp, Editor-in-chief,
Irights, Berlin observed that alternative media like blogs have brought
about an enormous change in public discourse as they enable many people
to have a say over issues of public interest.
Rana Junaid, Researcher, SDPI presented findings from research on
alternative media. The research 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. “Alternative media includes
all media and forums besides mainstream media such as news channels and
daily newspapers” he said.
He further elaborated that the number of social media users in
Pakistan has been on a steady rise over the years, and this has led to
mass dialogue and discourse over various issues in the country.
Director of the Eqbal Ahmed Center for Public Education, Prof. Dr.
Pervez Hoodbhoy opined that the general mindset in Pakistan is 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
Dr. Hoodbhoy 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
In his talk titled “Interactive Community Mobilization”, 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
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.
Ms. Sabeen Mahmud, Director of Peace Niche, Karachi, in her talk
titled "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.
She proposed that the traditional schooling system needs to adopt
reforms that promote flexibility and dynamism according to the specific
skills and talents of students.