Pakistan’s media is manipulated says ex- UNDP country chief

Islamabad[Pakistan], Aug. 31 :Highlighting that media should be one of the pillars of democracy, Marc-Andre Franche, the former country director for United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan, has pointed out that Pakistani media is manipulated.

Franche, who had been the UNDP country director for the last four years, bid farewell to Pakistan to take up the position of Chief of Financing at the United Nations Peace building Fund.

He made the remarks during an interview to a Pakistan daily shortly before his departure. "Media is of course a business. But a business that does not contribute to the public good has very little utility. It is important that the media makes money, but the media is one of the pillars of democracy and the media has to educate the public.

Unfortunately, the level of dependence of the government on military authorities, and the degree by which a lot of media in this country is manipulated by powerful sources, are sources of erosion of democracy and erosion of the institutions that are the foundations of this country, " Franche said.

His reply was based on the question about UNDP's engagement being checked by limited economic discourse in the media.

On being asked if he would recommend his successor to develop a programme for nudging the media towards setting the economic agenda, he replied, "We wouldn't do a special programme on that.

But as part of our different programmes, such as climate change, poverty, etcetera; we have a lot of emphasis on engaging the media." He pointed out that a critical change Pakistan can happen only when the elite, the politicians and the wealthy sections of society sacrifice their short term goals and stop abusing their power to enrich themselves, or favour their friends and extended families.

He asserted that the apartheid of opportunities in Pakistan is horrible and the country needs more opportunities.

"The apartheid of opportunities in Pakistan is horrible, which is why so many young people are trying to leave the country," he said He added that Pakistan will not be able to survive with gated communities where you are completely isolated from the societies, where you are creating ghettos at one end and big huge malls for the rich at the other end.

He said the political and economic elite must also try to build a consensus so that Islamabad progresses.

"You cannot have a political class in this country that uses its power to enrich itself, and to favour its friends and families.

This fundamental flaw needs to be corrected if Pakistanis to transform into a modern, progressive developed country.

The political and economic elite must also try to build a consensus," he added. Asserting that it is not his role to say what Pakistan should or should not do, he, however, pointed out that the basic human rights of the minorities, women and the people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are not respected.

"The fact that even in 2016, Pakistanhas 38 percent poverty; it has districts that live like sub-Saharan Africa; that the basic human rights of minorities, women and the people of FATA are not respected; that this country has not been able to get its act together and hold a census, or that it has not been able to push for reforms in FATA, an area that is institutionally living in the 17th century," he said.

Franche also said that it was also frustrating for him to see that people are so capable and intelligent but not making more progress than they should in terms of poverty reduction, inequality, modernising the state and functioning institutions.

Source: ANI