Differentiating fake news from facts can often be difficult. Photo: iStock

Along with the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government, the media form the fourth important pillar in a democracy. The media bring domestic issues and international events to the public. Freedom of speech and of the media are vital for the maintenance of human rights in democratic societies.

Unfortunately, many Pakistani and Indian electronic and print media figures are too selective in their motives and stray from neutrality. Such failings lower their qualifications to be journalists; indeed, they themselves create the doubts people hold regarding journalistic values.

Those media that secret agencies support and finance cannot qualify for the standards of neutral and fair policy and conduct. Freedom of the media does not give them the right, for example, to declare an accused person guilty before the verdict of the judiciary, since that involves interfering in and influencing legal proceedings. Such behavior is itself a crime. And yet in Pakistan and India, some media outlets  continually fail to adhere strictly to journalistic values and provide fair and correct information to the public.

In developing countries such as Pakistan, India and others where the media have adopted a certain way of business and politics, they ignore their values and journalistic responsibilities to uphold fairness, truth and neutrality regardless of any attitude they may favor. Many journalists and media owners are non-professional, unqualified, and in the pay of the intelligence agencies, and this affects their motives. In  this way, they cause damage to democracy and its institutions and even disregard public opinion.

Some news anchors and their guest speakers on various issues display the agenda of internal and possibly external intelligence agencies that lead toward the collapse of democracy and welfare of the people. In this way, one realizes that if the media involve themselves in corruption,  they cannot execute moral values and combat the corruption of ruling politicians and officials. It is a practice of dishonesty and against the principles of rectitude.

Media corruption may also cause the collapse of the other three pillars of democracy, which indeed is happening in Asian societies, and in Western civilization as well.

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Ehsan Sehgal

Ehsan Sehgal is a Dutch-Pakistani poet, author, journalist, and founding chairman of the Muslim United Nations. He served in the Pakistan Army and received War Medal from the Pakistan Army. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in literature, and also a Bachelor of Law degree from Karachi University. He has published poetry, quotes books in Urdu and English and Dutch as well.