“Freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, of assembly, is among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them will be nullified if the freedom of press be successfully challenged.” (US president, Roosevelt). Media is regarded as the most powerful weapon of the 21st century. It is as lethal a weapon as a nuke. It has the capability to convert day into night and night into day, a hero into a villain and a villain into a hero. Media has brought revolutions in the world and has transformed the globe into a global village. It has virtually erased the geographical boundaries and removed the barriers of social, political and cultural differences and as a result, this diversified world has been reduced to the remote control. Media’s role in education, awareness, opinion formation, and entertainment are so diversified in its horizon and domain that one thing is clear and decided the tides of media cannot be reversed, however, they may be altered in nature and composition. The status of freedom of the press in Pakistan, ever since independence, has remained semi-independent, despite adequate safeguards and provisions promised by the constitution. “There shall be freedom of the press. It shall, however, be subjected to any reasonable restrictions imposed by the law, in the interest of the glory of Islam, of the integrity, security and defense of Pakistan or any part of it, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency and morality or in relation to contempt of court or commission or incitement to an offence.” (Article 19 of the constitution, 1973) Freedom of press literally means freedom of expression i.e. speech, writing and thinking. It also ensures the liberty to think and act without any restrictions and pressures. A free press and electronic media are an essential attribute of the democratic polity as both work hand in glove with each other. If democracy is the government of the people, media is the voice of the people. But it is a matter of grave misfortune for Pakistan that due to one factor or the other, ever since independence, the media could not breathe independently and one of the factors that could be held responsible for this sorry state of affairs is the obstructed and failed democratic form of government. The fundamental ingredient making democracy possible is the flow of information. The media is the only force that can ensure the flow of information. If restricted, hindered, or obstructed in any way, the masses remain ignorant, ignorant of their rights, their duties to the state, their needs and the role that they can play for the betterment of the society and the country they live in. The media’s role in imparting education to the masses cannot be stressed enough. Online lectures and speeches of professors, scholars and intellectuals are playing a significant role in imparting formal and technical education to the masses. The media’s role in creating awareness among the masses regarding the political, social and economic scenario cannot be overemphasized. Owing to the mushroom growth of TV channels and newspapers, people today are more aware and educated about the surroundings and the steps taken by the government. This is promoting public participation in the decision-making of the state machinery. The skilled and bold personalities of the anchorpersons raise people’s voices, analyze the government’s actions and get an expert opinion. Media has also played a significant role in bringing the world at our doorstep. It produces and introduces different lifestyles in the world, changes moods and behavior, and braves the bold topics through dramas and talk shows. It also suggests the new household styles, guides the youth to new opportunities and creates civic sense. Media also helps in providing religious knowledge by competent scholars, answering the queries of the public to solve their problems. It highlights religious events and promotes sectarian harmony. There are certain ethics and do’s and don’ts of media channels and press to shape the discipline of journalism so that they may seek truth, and convey information, ideas, and opinions with transparency and accuracy. These ethics advise the media personnel to report and interpret honestly, striking for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts and urge the necessary correction of errors. The 21st century has turned out to be a century of media war, as it has turned out to be the most lethal weapon of the contemporary age. Drastic, cultural, political and social changes can now be seen as a result of revolutions brought about by media. Media is bursting forth like a meteor, breaking new frontiers. In this age of cosmic revolution and technology and means of communication, those archaic barriers blocking any people’s access to an independent source of information are being dismantled rapidly to the utter discomfort of the obscurantist still intent on keeping them intact.
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