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ZAFAR ALI KHAN MEDIA UNIVERSITY NEEDED

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE KHAADIM e AALA MIAN MUHAMMAD SHAHBAZ SHARIF

Respectable CM Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif esqrr: Asslam o Alykum,

The Pakistanis in general and the Punjabis in particular will remain indebted to your services that are quite obviously going to benefit them in the long run. These services range from improving the traffic infrastructure for a swift commutation to the laptop distribution among the brilliant youth, and from establishing Danish schools to curbing Dengue effectively. The developed countries pay extraordinary attention to the sectors you deem vital; transport, health and education.

One can easily infer from your efforts that improving education and the converting traditional economy into Knowledge Economy has been your prime concern since the day you took oath.

You must have noted that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, we have witnessed a such a disgusting scandal which had demoralized almost everyone, and had hijacked the literate Pakistanis’ time and practically paralyzed their minds; yes, I am talking about the Bahriagate that eventually turned out to be the Mediagate.

There are innumerable conspiracy theories whizzing around as to why someone wove such a snare that was primarily meant to hunt the CJ, but, instead of the CJ, a business tycoon fell prey to it.

What in these lines the writer wants to shed light on is not a conspiracy theory anyway. It is, rather, spotlighting one of the fatal shortcomings of our system, which is, to you too, Your Excellency, at the verge of a big crunch.

This shortcoming is: the media is being run by the non-professionals. Neither Mubashir Lucman is a qualified journalist nor is Mehr Bukhari. Mubashir was a producer, a minister, a brilliant vocal, but never was a qualified journalist. Similarly Mehr never academically studied media at university.

We would continue facing such earth-shaking blows if we did not pay any heed to equip the opinion makers with the professional ethics through some dedicated university.

Sir!
In this perspective, it is becoming quite predictable now that sooner or later will have to set up a university dedicated to the media sciences only. For, we know now that the paradigm shift from traditional media to new media, and the media ecology perpetually taking place are to be studied quite keenly, wisely and critically if we are to live in today’s world where wars are fought at the battlefields of paper, sound wave and screen instead of the soil. The gulf war is a good example in recent times; and Dr Goebbels’ techniques are not a mystery anymore.

We are a nation of about 180 million human beings. If we look at the proportion of media to population of our country, we find that we are lagging far behind as compared to the modern world. India progressed in Media Industry and in IT industry by leaps and bounds. It is only because of paying due heed to the Media industry that Indian film industry has become the largest film industry in the world.

They produce films like Chak De India and Swades to, at one end preemptively counter any potential propaganda and at the other end, boost the morale of their nation; whereas we produce senseless talk-shows which demoralize us.

We have comprehensively failed in understanding the importance of media as a useful means of influencing people within and beyond the country. It is so because we are not having the real scholars and analysts of the media’ be it the production of films or presentation of news. We have not started studying the media dynamics scientifically till date.

We, the 180 million, would have won so many wars including the so-called war on terror, and redressed the issues of Karachi, Baluchistan and illiteracy, if we had developed a vibrant but sane and intelligent media industry supervised by the media scientists.
By setting up a media university we will be able to produce the very media scientists; the scientists who could lead us to an informed Pakistan.
In other words, the dream of living in an informed Pakistan could be materialized by producing the people who have technically, culturally and intellectually sound approach toward studying the media ecology, alternative/social/new media, development journalism, media management, film/TV/radio/theatre productions, pajamas media, brain reprogramming, media consumption, and media effects. Merely one department imparting the education of media or even an entire institute for that matter is not sufficient anymore, for the fast-evolving avenues of media demand a full-blown university where the areas (a few of them have been mentioned above) could be explored critically and creatively.

The un-necessary delay in setting up a media university leaves a question mark on face of modern Pakistan. If the health sciences university, medical university, IT university, veterinary university, agriculture university, space sciences university, Islamic university and engineering university have been set up, what refrains us from setting a media university especially when the WikiLeaks effect has dramatically changed the modern world’ an informed world?

Dr Mughees ud Din Sheikh, the former dean of social and behavioral sciences, envisioned such a media university way before his retirement. But we could not benefit ourselves from his vision. Conforming to the maxim, ‘it is never too late’, this worthy scholar must be appreciated by the Khaadim e Aala by setting up a Media University and appointing him as the first rector/vice chancellor of it.
The times ahead will prove that only the knowledge-economies would survive on the globe. And we know that knowledge is the processed form of information, as information is the processed form of data. Therefore, we need to share, analyze/process and spread information in order to turn Pakistan into a knowledge economy.

To achieve this goal, that is, to survive in future, we are to set up a media university as soon as possible.

Dr Mughees ud Din Sheikh, the former dean of social and behavioral sciences, envisioned such a media university way before his retirement. But we could not benefit ourselves from his vision. Conforming to the maxim, ‘it is never too late’, this worthy scholar must be appreciated by the Khaadim e Aala by setting up a Media University and appointing him as the first rector/vice chancellor of it.
Sincerely,

By: Ahmad Hammad

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