Saturday, August 27, 2011

SAFMA Central Secretariat’s clarification on a TV Show by Dr Shahid at Express TV

SAFMA Central Secretariat’s clarification on a TV Show by Dr Shahid at Express TV

This is with reference to a recent debate between Mr Zaid Hamid and Ms Marvi Sirmed that we are constrained to issue the following clarification on behalf of SAFMA:

a) The debate in the Shahid Nama of Express TV was against some professional ethics as the “accused” (SAFMA) was not represented in the said program despite the facts that the whole debated was focused on SAFMA. This is unfortunate and against professional ethics that despite SAFMA’s caution against hurling of malicious and defamatory allegations by one Mr Zaid Hamid in the absence of SAFMA representative, some allegations of highly grave nature were hurled by the same accuser whom we have issued a legal notice.

b) Whatever Mr Hamid said against SAFMA was atrocious and unfounded and is libel.

c) On the other hand, despite her clarification that she is not a member of SAFMA, whatever Ms Marvi Sirmed had said is being wrongly treated as if they were SAFMA’s views. She had neither any right to represent SAFMA nor had any brief from SAFMA to defend or represent SAFMA. Ms Marvi Sirmed is entitled to have her views as Mr Hamid. This is utterly wrong to say that SAFMA or Mr Sirmed Manzoor sent Ms Marvi to the debate while it has so many senior journalists to defend itself and will do so for which it is quite capable of doing at any forum and at any level.

d) A lot of debate is going on in various kinds of media on SAFMA, We welcome difference of opinion and its diversity. But can neither indulge in mud slinging nor take it lying down. We have been advised by our senior colleagues to firmly keep on the legal course against defamation that we have taken and not to give much importance to the accusers. In this regard whatever is being expressed by even various SAFMA members in their individual columns/comments are their personal views they are entitled to have.

e) SAFMA both at the national and regional levels have journalists from various backgrounds and viewpoints, including hawks and doves pro or against this party/ideology or the other. In Pakistan and India we have both doves and hawks who agree to have talks. In Bangladesh we have journalists from both the contending parties and groups of journalists’ bodies. In Sir Lanka we have both Sinhala and Tamil journalists. Same is true about Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Afghanistan.

f) SAFMA has focused on two issues: a) Media its freedom and development; b) Conflict resolution, peace and regional cooperation while strengthening the SAARC process. SAFMA and its affiliates, such as South Asia Media Commission, have been in the forefront of the struggle for media freedom and will remain steadfast whatever the price. SAFMA is for peaceful settlement of all bilateral disputes, including Kashmir and various border disputes between other countries of the region, water and trade issues between the member countries of SAARC. Indeed SAFMA National Chapters do and must represent their views on various national issues, they are not bound to follow the viewpoint of their governments if they are not conducive to peace. SAFMA has often been caught in the crossfire of the wars of various agencies and conflicting nationalistic rhetoric and have been accused of being an agent of this agency or that. But we are proud to claim that we are agent of none other than the larger interests of our people and the cause of peace and a free media that we are firmly committed to. All our audits of accounts are available for anyone interested in our sources of revenues.

g) On various issues facing Pakistan, our SAFMA National chapter is strongly committed to a prosperous, strong, peaceful, democratic and federal Pakistan, even though its members are entitled to have their respective views.

h) At the regional level SAFMA has played a significant role in building confidence between Pakistan and India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh and Bhutan and Nepal, etc. SAFMA is the only body in the region which undertook exchange of journalists across the LoC and helped evolve a consensus on travel documents across the LOC which resulted in people to people contacts and trade between the divided Kashmir. SAFMA recognizes differences between the two neighbors and is consistent in supporting peaceful means to resolve all differences between the two countries. (At his personal level the Secretary General is determined to help bring peace in the subcontinent regardless of opposition from various quarters in the two countries. He is also committed to the right to self-determination of all the people, including Kashmiris which also includes Azadi from both not acceptable to India and Pakistan.

i) Lastly SAFMA office bearers do not need any certification from any one for their patriotism and love for their motherland. They will remain steadfast against extremism, jingoism, terrorism and can’t be pressurized by anyone however powerful. Notions of Peace, Progress and Democracy will continue to be the motivating emblems in our efforts for a better South Asia and a democratic Pakistan.

Imtiaz Alam,

Secretary General,

South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA)

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