Baz Mohammad Kakar, President of Balochistan Bar Association, addressing the workshop on media, democracy and human rights

QUETTA: Tools and techniques to cover issues pertaining to reporting in the print and electronic media on democracy and human rights was discussed for the second day in a three-day long training program held by Balochistan Institute for Future Development (BIFD) with the collaboration of National Endowment for Democracy at Quetta Press Club.

It is the first time in the history of Balochistan that a training workshop has been held for journalists from remote parts of the province in order to acquaint them with modern tools and techniques, such as blogs and social networks, to reach a wider range of audience in the conflict-stricken province to report on democracy and human rights.

Journalists belonging to various print and electronic media outlets working in sixteen different districts of Balochistan are attending this unique training program. District correspondents from Quetta, Mastung, Kalat, Pishin, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Khuzdar, Sibi, Awaran, Chagai, Noshki, Panjgur, Kharan, Bolan, Lasbela, Jhal Magsi, students of Department of Mass Communication at the University of Balochistan and two professional journalists from Quetta attended the event.

Speaking on the second day of the workshop, Mohammad Hayat Baloch, a lecturer at the Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Balochistan, informed the participants about the Pakistani media and the issues it faced. Hayat cited statistics from Reporters without Borders to argue that the state of press freedom in Pakistan was abysmal while the media in Balochistan worked under worse circumstances. With a background in TV journalism, Mr. Baloch taught a number of pre-production and post-production techniques to the journalists. During the question answer session, the district correspondents mentioned that it was encouraging that some television channels had begun to give some space to remote districts as well. However, district correspondents remain unable to report properly due to unavailability of equipment, insufficient training about television journalism, which is a relatively new phenomenon in the country.

Mohammad Hayat Baloch of University of Balochistan, speaking on media issues in Pakistan

Baz Mohammad Kakar, president of Balochistan Bar Association, spoke in detail in a session on “the role of the media in the movement for the restoration of judiciary in Pakistan.” He said the suspension of Justice Ifthakar Mohammad Chaudhary had triggered an organized movement against former dictator General Pervez Musharraf but it, at the same time, provided the newly liberalized Pakistani media a chance to fight its war of freedom.

“Media must be given 90% credit for the success of the judicial movement. Had it not been the media, our movement would never succeed,” he acknowledged, adding that media had continued to keep the lawyers intact at times when they were either too disappointed with the military regime or thought of giving up their struggle. “The media people gave us hope. We thought we could win the battle for a free judiciary with the help of the courageous media,” he said.

Kakar stressed the need for better media-judiciary relations for the sustainability of democracy in the country. He regretted that the partnership built during the movement against dictatorship could not last longer and it needed to be revived.

During the Q&A session, the district correspondents asked questions about making contacts with the bar associations, court reporting, judicial code of conduct, alleged corruption in the judiciary and the fear that the judiciary in Pakistan was posing threats to the fledgling democracy in the country.

The participants discussed methods to write press releases and conduct interviews while covering issues pertaining to women’s rights in a session headed by Zeb-un-Nisa Garshin, a senior lady reporter affiliated with Daily Jang. The participants also did individual and group works on the techniques taught to them. The participants said covering women’s issues was still a hard job in Balochistan’s tribal society where reporters hardly had access to the primary sources that face domestic violence. Likewise, men strictly discourage reporting on issues like honor-killing.

Zeb-un-Nisa Garshin