ISLAMABAD - Speakers at a seminar here on Thursday highlighted the significant elements of reporting in a conflict situation such as responsibility, impartiality and accuracy, as these were prerequisites for reliable journalism. Speakers at the seminar titled "Role of Media in Conflict Situations", organised by Individualland Pakistan, a non-government organisation, here at a local hotel said that the media needed to play its due role in bringing people together and creating greater understanding among diverse communities, and also stressed the need to make the media self-accountable.
Senior journalists Shamim Shahid, Absar Alam Ikram Hoti, Shahexada Zulfiqar, Search for Common Ground Country Director Ali Saleem, Intermedia Country Director Adnan Rahmat and Individualland Pakistan Executive Director Gulmina Bilal Ahmad spoke on the occasion. They said there was a need for an institution to train journalists who could report from conflict zones.
There were various kinds of conflict and journalists should be aware of the environments they could be placed in, they said. The participants stressed on developing a code of conduct for journalists working in conflict zones, along with standardising safety procedures that could help them survive in a conflict zone.
They said there were four partners in a conflict zone: terrorists, feeders, planners and manipulators. Reporters in conflict zones needed to expose all these partners and bring the exact situation to the public, they added.
They said that the media's role in conflict zones was currently contradictory, negative and oppressed. They said Pakistani media had so far failed to define who was a terrorist and who was not, an issue that needed to be addressed urgently because it made for partial and inaccurate reporting. They said conflicts could be violent and non-violent, the conflict in the tribal areas being an example of the former, and the conflict between the judiciary and the government, or the government and the opposition, being examples of the latter.
The speakers said Pakistan had been classified as one of the most dangerous countries in the world and the volatile situation in the country had affected the freedom of journalists and the media, since the threat of terrorism had now also pulled them into the midst of the conflict. According to the International Federation of Journalists, they said, 15 journalists had been killed in violence in Pakistan in 2010. They said correspondents and reporters had been subjected to kidnapping, assault and harassment.
Individualland Pakistan is an Islamabad based non-profit development organisation with a national footprint and is actively engaged with the Pakistani media. This engagement involves utilising the media as an ally for change.