Friday, February 17, 2012

Pathetic Express

I don't watch Kamran Shahid's show. I really don't. That's why I had to be told by another Pyala that I should probably see what happened on his show on Express TV yesterday. Having now seen the show in its entirety, I can safely say that my initial position was well-founded.

Here was a show on Balochistan, whose dire situation is, thankfully, finally receiving some space in the media that has long shut its eyes hoping uncomfortable truths would all just go away. Recently there have been a few eloquent and blood-curdling pieces in the print media as well as no-nonsense coverage on some television channels. Some of the best coverage in the mainstream print media has been in Dawn: Here is veteran journalist I. A. Rehman today on "Balochistan's Agony", here is writer Mohammed Hanif's heart-rending front-page piece on February 11 on "The Baloch Who Is Not Missing", and here is Dawn's strong editorial on the same subject a day after. Some of the best programmes on Balochistan have been on the channel everyone loves to hate, Geo. Geo's Lekin, hosted by Sana Bucha, has raised difficult questions about Balochistan a number of times and a recent edition of Aapas Ki Baat provided a very balanced primer on the issues via the programme's in-house analyst Najam Sethi. Even Hamid Mir on Capital Talk has done a series of hard-hitting and much needed programmes on the subject.

Let's just say Kamran Shahid's Frontline will never make that list of thought-provoking programmes.

I watched the first half of the show uncomfortably, not because of the issues that were being discussed, but because of the host's obvious duggapan - I'm sorry but there is no other word that comes to mind for him. He has a knack of making even valid questions seem like cluelessly crude rhetoric. But while discussing a situation as much of a political tinderbox as Balochistan has become, possibly the last thing an anchor sitting in the Punjab should be doing is making incendiary statements with little sense of how they could and would be perceived. In any case, while it was a tense viewing experience things did not completely deteriorate, thanks mainly to the patience of both former Chief Minister Akhtar Mengal and the PPP's Lashkari Raisani, who answered fairly provocative questions without erupting.

And then all hell broke loose. Kamran Shahid took Jamhoori Watan Party head and son of slain Baloch leader Akbar Bugti, Talal Bugti, on line and this is what followed with All Pakistan Muslim League representative Barrister Saif:




Now, there are times when really one is at a complete loss for words. What can I really say here that is not totally, utterly and absolutely self-evident?

Yes, Talal Bugti's regurgitation of his old rhetoric calling for the vigilante killing of General Musharraf (which we have criticised before here) was uncalled for, but Barrister Saif's violent and blatantly vulgar response was in this case even more reprehensible and condemnable. If there is a bigger villain, however, it is Kamran Shahid, the producers of his crappy show and the management of Express TV who allowed this exchange to go on air. Note how all of them were content to let this utter hogwash continue for a full two and a half minutes after it became clear that things were getting out of hand. Why? Simply because it is now considered a good ratings booster to have such conflagarations on television. And if people cross the line, all the better. In fact, Express has had a similar experience before with Talal Bugti which is obviously why they decided to pit him once again against a Musharraf supporter.

It's about time that PEMRA woke up and put an end to this sorry trend that almost makes you yearn for the sobriety of the old Pakistan Television. Pathetic. An uttterly pathetic excuse for a 'talk show'. And even more pathetic that such ratings chicanery should be played out on a topic as important as Balochistan.


16 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I disagree with you bro. There was nothing wrong with what the anchor did. Its not the media's job to babysit people, if they want to make a fool out of themselves on national tv then allow them too. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this on the media's part. We don't want to compromise media's freedom to hide the idioticness of pakistan's politicians.

I think the real culprit here is the scumbag who called for musharraf's killing. He started this, and absolutely the barrister did things right, I'm 100% on his side. At least for once someone showed the right wing bigots that people will stand up to them.

Anonymous said...

You always highlight the right side. Now a days media anchors can do anything for ratings i.e. Maya Khan. You can see Kamran Shahid program in which Senator Mushahid Ullah abuse PTI members in front of large audience. There should be some check and balance but unfortunately every thing comes under "AZAD MEDIA" which, in my opinion is destroying Pakistan more than Terrorism.

AK said...

Completely agree with anon 2:54 above
why would you hold media responsible for the idiots that are our politicians

Faria said...

The anchor is responsible for maintaining some semblance of order. If he can't interrupt a guest who is threatening another guest then he really has no busy being on the air.

Anonymous said...

The media's job is to report the truth, not hide it. If our politicians threaten to kill each other then its the media's job to report on this kind of thing. I see absolutely no reason why he should've cut him off. In fact, if a politician threatened to kill another politician anywhere in the world, not just in pakistan but also in the U.S, UK, etc, the tv anchor would allow that to go on to expose that politician. Its another thing that politicians elsewhere never stoop to that level so this isn't seen anywhere else.

If he had said " this guy should be killed because he's from a certain sect", then that's inciting a killing and in that case he should be cut off, but he didn't incite it, he said " I will have you killed in quetta" , that's not something that needs to be censored.

Anonymous said...

nothing new yaar this is the same express news

http://express.com.pk/epaper/PoPupwindow.aspx?newsID=1101155310&Issue=NP_LHE&Date=20110127

Anonymous said...

I like the way how Saif keep calling bugti 'stupid' as if it is a really strong word .... I guess Saif needs to improve both his manners and his vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised at some of the comments posted above, though it is good to learn that there is another (though weird)side to this argument.
This absolutely disgusting conversation took place in our living rooms. The anchor's silence was shocking, to say the least. He allowed his guests to be insulted. He needs to LEARN AND REMEMBER that television is meant for family viewing and some sort of decency must be maintained.
Plus he also needs to make sure every guest gets a fair chance to say his point of view.
Where was the host and what was he thinking?

XYZ said...

@Anon346: Your comment has been removed for being inappropriate. As we have said numerous times, calling for anyone to be killed extrajudicially is wrong.

To all those above who think it is not the anchor's or media's fault what went on in this show: how about we say that it's the right of the media to invite anyone on television, let's say an unrepentant serial pedophile who speaks only in graphic curse words involving children. According to your argument, this would be perfectly acceptable since he is only speaking the truth (as he knows it) and it is only exposing his depraved character... There is no such thing as absolute freedom and certainly not in this case in which the anchor, his producers and his channel played out their mischief not to reveal any great truth but simply to earn advertising revenue by petty and conscious sensationalism.

TLW said...

That was psychologically abusive.

At this point I think some kind of Ofcom, with democratic powers/input is required.

The Pakistani media is becoming a viler echo of the nastiness of the British media, played out in a conservatively oriented society.

At some point it could overstep and lead to something like the Leveson Inquiry.

Although in my opinion, the media crossed that line by late 2010.

Anonymous said...

I can't see of any compelling reason to have the media not be allowed to interview a criminal of any sort (rapist, murderer, pedophile). If the media 'condoned' such behavior or tried to justify it, then sure, that should absolutely not be allowed, but there's nothing wrong with being allowed to interview those people.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWiiICLbp0A

Saqib said...

"no one meant the show to go on that side"...the host says. Man I have never watched this guys show but..this guy really doesn't know how to be a host, and how to treat his guests. the host is the moderator and keeps the discussion/debate on a track. what is the use of a moderator then. If someone supports Mr.Saif's abuse, they do not know what debate is all about.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry but it is about time people stopped watching crap shows and put pressure on advertisers not to put their ads on said shows.

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