195 countries have tallied their names into the United nations list. However, the only country whose name jumps out in every news channel is Pakistan. A population of 2 billion has caught the eye of every individual owing to its depleting economy, poverty-stricken majority, and unsettled and volatile political condition. “Pakistan is always on the brink,” journalist and documentarian Wajahat Khan told a packed room of Northeastern University’s journalism students, but “we don’t know what it’s on the brink of”.
Khan, a Fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard, has covered Pakistan’s military and the war on terror, for which his native country is “ground zero”, he said. He in his recent study brought out the uses of new media such as Facebook and Twitter, not as in the Arab world by democracy minded revolutionaries, but by fundamentalists such as the Taliban, pushing their views on a public eager for uncensored information.
Speaking in Shillman Hall, Khan said that decades of repression in Pakistan have left the mainstream media in a weakened state; occasionally able to investigate politicians but unwilling to criticise the military or the powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Khan elucidated “The media has been fooled; the media has also stopped itself”. The prevailing editorial stance now, exclaimed Khan, is “anti-American” because it serves ISI’s and the military’s purpose to focus Pakistanis on external enemies rather than poverty, unemployment and corruption. The corruption at every authoritarian level has pulled down the nation in every way.