Kalasha culture: Is media reporting the right way?
By Luke Rehmat
Kalash, July 28. A few days ago, I had a chance to read a prominent journalist’s view about bloggers. He declared: “No responsibility and no accountability, so bloggers are not journalists.’’Do you think journalists are responsible and accountable in Pakistan?
Yes, very responsible in presence of people like Malik Riaz and very accountable for getting bribes.
I do not go into an in-depth discussion but would like to highlight a few cases here. Daily Dawn recently reported on Kalasha tradition of keeping their environment protected. It said Kalasha do not keep chickens at home; the reasons given was wrong. Although there is a historical background about this situation why Kalasha people weren’t keeping chickens? Dihar (messenger) predicated in ancient time that there will be a bird with a sign on its head that will come and then Kalasha culture will be affected. It would be a sign for Kalasha culture disappearance and consider it impure. The people of the time were informed that they should not eat and keep this bird called ‘Kankawac’ (chicken). Therefore, Kalasha people used not to eat eggs and chicken in the past. Now majority of the people eat chicken and some families keep chickens as well.
Last month, I got an opportunity to watch Idraak on ARYNews about Kalasha community. The contents were not only fabricated but also insulting for the the Kalasha culture, religion and traditions. Many other TV reports in Pakistan are not good; they only focus on love marriages saying …Oh! Kalasha people marry anyone they wish during the spring festival of Zhoshi. One can go and hold the hand of a girl who he likes and takes her to his house and term the festival a place for love marriages. What you think is it possible? Reality about this story is that in the past arranged marriage was common among Kalasha community. But with the passage of time, love marriage replaced arrange marriages, but in rare cases arrange marriage exist even now. Yes if a girl and boy have understanding almost for 1 to 5 years or more then they can marry during the festival or any time they want. It is not necessary for one to marry during the festivities only.
I had a chance to get interviewed on Geo News during Zhoshi 2012. The reporter taught me few lines such as ‘’please repeat the sentence I had teach you’’; what he was teaching me was ‘’I am going to have love marriage during this festival and I am happy’’. Should a responsible journalist fabricate everything according to their needs or they should present the facts?
On 9th May 2012, I got an opportunity to read out a daily Urdu newspaper where wrong information was printed regarding Kalasha community and its rituals. Unfortunately, I have lost the piece of paper. What I had analyzed after reading and watching such reports and articles, is that our media people are not matured?
Most of the journalists, authors and anchors used to quote when the write something on Kalash, from Robert Son, a British man who published a book called ‘’Kafirs of Hindukush’’ in 18 century. (He was living with royal family in Chitral, and how one expects that he collected and researched well. The second big reason is that Kalasha were not educated in past and interpreter were mostly outsiders. What I think is due to communication gap, people had published many wrong things about Kalasha people and festivities). Journalists are not able to make factual reports and always depend on old books. Do you think the sources mentioned on the previous books are reliable? Why? Because the authors who had published their books and done research lived among non-Kalasha people and a few of them had a chance to remain with Kalasha families and they had written good one.
Most of the authors come to the valleys for a few days or a month and started writing fiction stories about Kalasha people.
The main theme of the long article was that is our media playing negative or positive role to promote good image of Pakistan? Few months ago, a news published on many national and international online and printed version said “Telephone is not only an instrument in Kalash valley.” That misleading report got huge coverage. Was this title really fabulous? Why the media seems supporting propaganda than reporting the facts?
I don’t want to argue about this topic further as I think journalists or bloggers both should be responsible whatever they are presenting to the public.