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Published Date: Nov 28, 2013

SDPI Press Release (November 28, 2013)

The
Traditional media has lost its importance now a days and Alternative
Media has given authoritative power to general public by empowering them
to raise their issues on main stream media”. This was expressed by
Ahsan Iqbal,
Federal Minister for Planning and Development, in a second day of International Conference on ‘Alternative Media in Pakistan-Opportunities and Challenges’ here today.
The conference is being jointly organized by Heinrich Boell Stiftung
(HBS) and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), with support
of the German Foreign Office.

Talking
of the importance of alternative media, Ahsan Iqbal said that it can be
used as a development tool by disseminating policies of government and
creating awareness among general public. Focusing on the issue, he
stressed that 70% of the population of Pakistan has informal access to
this source but do not cater any productive use of this.

Moreover,
the Minister said that Government of Pakistan has still not any law
which should deal with cybercrimes. However, alternative media can be
used to build our own development goals like MGDs.

While chairing the first session, I. R Rehman, Director Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) noted that the
internet and social media have become increasingly important in any
political or social activity. They are important to human rights
defenders everywhere. But the use of these new technologies to assert
old freedoms has been met with repression. On the other hand, mainstream
media does not strive much to assist the public in developing a
discourse.

Zahid Abdullah, Right to Information Activist
highlighted the potential of social media in developing a broad
understanding of the rights of disabled people in Pakistan. According to
World Health Organization (WHO), disabled represent the largest
minority in the Pakistani population. Both public and private
institutions to assist persons with disabilities should use new forms of
media to convey their stories and messages.   He suggested “screen
reading software” for disabled person to make their access easy to
internet.

Samar Minallah, Filmmaker,
spoke about the importance of documentaries as a mode of alternative
media. “Documentaries are the artistic representation of reality, which
raise awareness and suggest actions”, she said.  Furthermore, she shared
with the audience some documentaries that raised issues of
unrecognized, social and economic situation of Pukhtun rural women.

Sana Saleem, an independent blogger emphasized the need to use various forms of alternative media to promote rights of women.

While chairing the second session, Asma Shairazi, Renowned Anchor & Journalist said that alternative media can be the substitute of mainstream media, in case of non-existence or during prohibition by the state. Unlike
mainstream media, forms of alternative media are not under pressure
from business interests or those who command public opinion.

ProfDr. Shahjehan Syed from University of Peshawar
discussed that alternative media is being used to build the capacity
building of the journalists in remote and conflict effected areas of
Tribal Area, with a vision of “Conflict Sensitive Journalism”.

Mussarat Qadeem, Director
PAIMAN shared how the alternative media has been used to counter the
extremist propaganda, which based upon the misinterpretation of Quranic
injunctions, and quoting Quran out of context to sensitize the youth and
women. She opined that countering the extremism by using the injunction
of Quran and poetry is most effective as it is indigenous and localized
method that helped to rehabilitate and reintegrate the misguided youth
into the society.

In his view, titled Jihadism online, Nico Prucha, University of Vienna, Austria
said that extremist actors are innovative in using and exploiting this
new medium of our times. The impact of this comprising propaganda
material, that indeed addresses legitimate claims and grievances, is
changing the perception of Islam, especially in western countries.
However, it is important to regularize the affects of alternative media
and its ability to retain its independence.

Humaira Sheikh, from Shirkat Gah Lahore shared that both mainstream and alternative media should share real life stories of women.

Waehamah Waekuejik. Director, Media Selantan from Thailand shared his experience of radio program. The main purpose of that program is peace and social harmony through dialogue.

Farrukh Patafi, Senior Anchor PTV emphasized that alternative
media take the power from the powerful people to general public.
However the alternative Media can be used specially to promote the
democracy and manifestos of political parties.

While
sharing the recommendations, Dr. Abid Suleri, Executive Director of
Sustainable Development Policy Institute suggested that
the
freedom of expression needs to be reinstated in truest of form by the
government and let globalization carve its own path without being
manipulated by invisible hands.         

Britta Petersen, Country Director of Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBS) presented the vote of thanks to participants.