Five Spirited Women Journalists Of Pakistan
With the media facing an ever-increasing level of restrictions, and with Pakistan being one of the most dangerous countries for journalism, it is important recognise those journalists have engaged in brave acts to uphold freedom of expression and the people’s right to information.
Asma Shirazi is the host of ‘Faisla Ap Ka’, and her courage became common knowledge when she became Pakistan’s first woman war correspondent, covering the Lebanon War in 2006 and later reporting from Pak-Afghan border in 2009. Her recent acts of bold journalism include her interview of Maulana Fazlur Rehman during the Azadi March and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif when he returned to Pakistan to offer arrest. She received the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism which recognises those who fight for freedom of information.
Amber Rahim Shamsi
Amber Rahim Shamsi, the host of ‘Sawal’ at Samaa TV, does not back down from criticising the powers that be. Her programmes include discussions on topics that mainstream media shies away from. Amber has time and again spoken about threats to journalism, and her criticism of powers that others deem above criticism is what sets her apart. She has frequently given coverage to enforced disappearances, which is a topic that journalists seldom touch. She is the recipient of the Champion of Change Award.
Maria Memon, the host of ‘Sawal Yeh Hai’, is a bright journalist who does not base her programmes around how much rating they will get. Maria’s foray into the field of journalism was by chance, when she, as a software engineer, applied for a position at Geo TV and got selected. After years of gruelling field work, she made her appearance as a news anchor. Now, she is a prime-time anchor and has taken the opportunity to focus on issues untouched by mainstream media. Her fearlessness can be gauged from the fact that once, while covering a political rally, she was insulted, and attacked with bottles and sticks. Yet she remained undeterred and later stated, “Such incidents will not make women stay at home in fear.”
Nasim Zehra started her career in the field of academia and development working for international development agencies and teaching at prestigious institutes like John Hopkins University. She began her career in journalism with Dunya News, and later moved to Channel 24. She is an expert on national security and development and her book ‘From Kargil to the coup: Events that shook Pakistan’, is considered an objective source of information on an issue as controversial as Kargil. Nasim Zehra used to be a strong supporter of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, but is now one of its staunchest critics.
Gharida hosts the programme G for Gharida and is admired for giving due coverage to everything from issues pertaining to the lower classes to the prime minister. She was widely praised when she hosted a programme focusing on the Ahmadis and the setting on fire of one of their worship places in Jhelum in 2015. She did this despite the fact that the government had not lent much support to the community following the incident.