From their independence, Pakistani people fed a surfeit of Islamic and state ideology, (anti India) via (restricted and tightly controlled) newspapers, radio and later state owned and ran TV, Pakistan Television (PTV) one and only channel broadcasting multi nature of TV content for 8 hours in a day, since its commencement. In the beginning of new millennium, General Pervez Musharraf’s government facilitated the national and international private TV channels through cable TV networks.
Cable TV networks spread all over the country in a flash from big cities to smaller towns and remote villages because of cheap monthly charges and zero installation expense, The private TV media revolution was welcomed by ordinary people and this phenomena is now integral part of their life and culture, In every home, shop, or at Tea stall there is cable TV network connection as in Kellner’s words We are immersed from cradle to grave in a media and consumer society, Many of the private channels are owned by newspaper companies and business corporations.
So they were/are truly commercial entity and therefore can always be expected to cater, first and foremost, to its profit-making needs. According to Kellner, Media culture is industrial culture, organized on the model of mass production and is produced for a mass audience according to types (genres), following conventional formulas, codes, and rules. It is thus a form of commercial culture and its products are commodities that attempt to attract private profit produced by giant corporations interested in the accumulation of capital.
Most of the Pakistani private channels started as News channels (Breaking News craze) but later they established other channels along with news channels, broadcasting Current affairs, Music, Entertainment, Sports, Children programming, and Religious (own and overseas) contents 24 hour in a day with hundreds of advertisements (main resource to generate revenue).
Above short introduction is about my essay which I am drawing on the basis of Douglas Kellner’s media spectacle theory (global culture is actually Media culture) Kellner wrote this book in American perspective but I will try to analyze and explain the Pakistani Media (TV, Film and advertisements) in the decade of 1980s and later. In the history of Pakistani media, significant events were/are connected with political situation in country.
Four time army takeover of government, Military rulers took thirty years of the nation since 1947, ruling the country and media as well by mean of strong reflection of their policies at paper, speaker and screens. In 1977, The third and most prevailing military ruler, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, coup the democratic government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, first Prime Minister of Pakistan after fall of East Pakistan (Bangladesh).
PTV became propaganda machine for Zia ul Haq, his policies and personality dominated the whole era of TV in Pakistan, the footage of General Zia, saluting, reviewing parades, meeting foreign dignitaries, shaking hands with wounded soldiers. His disabled daughter, dressed in a military uniform of her own, never far from his side on stage, saluting her father like any good soldier. He filled the screen, he filled the country. He was larger than life, a figure somewhere halfway between president of Pakistan and a religious icon.
Throughout 1980s he implemented the so called Islam, Islamic laws (Pakistani Paper and electronic media worked as his mouth piece) and for his long survival and to oppose Russian communism (not the Chinese) in the region with the help of Ronald Regan (1981 – 1989) as this decade was the end of cold war and beginning of the proxy war between US and formerly Russian federation in Afghanistan fought by (Mujahidin) Soldiers of God (stated by former US deputy defense chief Zbigniew Brzezinski ), the supportive role Zia played for the anti-Soviet mujahidin in Afghanistan continuous and free supply of Arms and ammunition to Mujahidin and to war lords, lose control over north-western boarders had been rewarded as free availability of Narcotics and weapons in Pakistani society.
The martial law of Zia-ul-Haq and the culture of Kalashnikov, heroin and violent religiosity struck a crushing blow to the film industry and then films multiplied this phenomena’s and gradually the culture changed completely and a new genre of cinema grew where glamorization of violence and brutality in extracting vengeance were common subjects of film making. Wahshee Gujjar, Maula Jat and Jat da kharaak are some of the films from that period which effectively captured the subject. Film “Maula Jutt” is symbolic representation of Hero in Pakistani films.
Maula Jatt is arguably the most iconic, not to mention violent, character in Pakistani cinema. While the character of Maula Jatt appeared in three cult films—Washi Jatt, Maula Jatt and Maula Jatt in London—in which he killed his opponents with impunity, his blood drenched exploits inspired a highly lucrative genre of films centered upon bloody rivalries between Jatts (biggest population of Punjab) in a seemingly lawless Punjab (most populated province of Pakistan). Films from that era were based on representation of Islam, identities (caste, religious, and national), especially under the Zia ul Haq regime, to regulate or ‘Islamize’ the film industry.
Islamic Ordinances, sharia laws and punishment system especially Hudod ordinance (limit, or restriction) is the word often used in Islamic social and legal literature for the bounds of acceptable behavior) were introduced, implemented and practiced by newly made Sharia courts. The Hudod ordinance has/had strong influence on Pakistani society and contents of all media outlets. Film censor board was already working in the country but after General Zia ul Haq TV censorship had been implemented, Female News casters, drama actresses, and even girls like 12 year old on TV put the Hijab to cover the head, their dressing code was changed, drama writing style, stories and subjects are confined in the container of General Zia’s policy. Stories from Islamic history were dramatized and many of the Silver screen films made on ideology of Islam and anti-India.
The term (Afghani and Kashmiri mujahidin) caught on and eventually entered the mainstream media. Zia ul Haq’s name and his policies will be remember by succeeding generations, he completely changed the Pakistan, Muslim culture in sub-continent and its social fabric, stated by famous TV actress of that time Mehtaab Akbar Rashidi, she shared her experiences during Zia’s era and how she was barred from hosting two shows ‘Farozan’ and ‘Apni Baat’ (talk shows on social issues) just because she refused to cover her head. “Through the media, Zia wanted to portray his personally idealized image of Pakistani women and how they should look,” she said. She did not appear on TV for the next eight years of Zia’s rule.
Male artists were newer allowed to touch female actresses, dialogues, and impressions were be in kind of limits which approved by the censor board or committees, almost all leading Pakistani TV actors had ‘beards: “Talat Hussain, Rahat Kazmi, Shafi Muhammad, all had beards. “It was a fashion of that time expressing creativity and manhood” First time in the history of Pakistani TV, images and videos ofwomen and men punished durray or korray for breaking of hudod the people broadcasted nation wide in news Islamic religious scholars were often seen in TV talk shows and in solo shows describing religion, religious issues discussing moral values of Muslims. Islamic scholars like Moulana Asrar ahmed, Tahir ul Qadri, kausar Niazi.