General elections to the eleventh parliament are only days away. Therefore, at this point, it is important to dwell on the good that accrues from a process of democracy in our society, in fact in any society. A guarantee of democracy comes through the creation of an atmosphere that allows for a free expression of opinion. All too often, people across the professions, especially politicians, urge the mass media in the country to play an objective role in presenting news before the readers through putting great emphasis on upholding the country’s democratic spirit, constitutional trend and national development through objective journalism. Access to information and people’s empowerment are two very interrelated notions that play a crucial role in strengthening the democratic process in a country.
Journalists usually carry out their responsibilities through providing information about facts, which does not necessarily mean reporting about something or an action of the government but goes deeper as they emphasise providing power to the people so that they can be instrumental in a promotion of the democratic and political process. People’s participation in the process of governance through availing information from media no doubt deepens democracy. Ensuring it requires freedom of the media as independence enables true journalism to realise and act within its duties and responsibilities. In the very path of discharging duties, journalism has to remain committed to non-partisanship and rule out obsequiousness of any sort. As a consequence of that, it has to sometimes form public opinion against any decision that is obstructive of the greater national interest, which no ruling party must construe as being activities against the state. That is because democracy is underpinned by a variety of opinions, and it is always the ruling party’s great responsibility to patiently listen to those opinions and respond in a manner that promises the best results for the country. That is how democracy flourishes.
But third world democracy is often looked upon as not being a perfect one since the ruling circles are frequently seen as being hostile to contrary opinions without judging their merit. As a result, the room for constructive criticism and thus freedom of expression, indeed of the media, shrinks only to accelerate the weakening process of democracy. Intolerance makes its way into every layer of society, journalists are repressed and, in this process, people’s participation in democracy is reduced. One must not have any reservations about bearing these basic principles of democracy in mind. Therefore to sustain the rule of law and enhance the democratic spirit, one should have sufficient knowledge about one’s rights and responsibilities.
We rest our case.
By Editor-in-Chief - Enayetullah Khan