The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is an amalgamation of different religions ethnicities cultures and languages It is home to different minorities groups including Hindus Christians Sikh Ahmadis Parsi and others Rights of religious minorities is one of the most debatable and complex issues in the country Religious and ethnic minorities are victims of persecution discrimination and harassment despite globalization widespread education and media boom Media is considered to be the fourth state of a society and hence it is expected to cover all marginalized sections of the society and report all minority related issues in an unbiased and responsible way Media plays a key role in informing people about minority related issues and incidents and it is expected from the media to report and cover them in a rigorous and an unbiased way However in Pakistan the under representation and misrepresentation of religious minorities in the media is one of the major causes of disgrace and embarrassment of the minorities Immediately after partition Pakistan faced a shortage of funds that resulted in a lack of filming equipment and production houses During the reign of General Ayub Khan control of film and television was in the hands of the state and film was used as a medium to enforce government propaganda It was during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's era that a new policy for censorship and releasing films was adopted and the National Film Development Corporation was established
A ban on Pakistani produced films and the conversion of cinema houses into shopping malls during the military coup of General Zia ul Haq further deteriorated the condition of the film industry and created a void The restrictions of the 1979 Motion Pictures Ordinance made it difficult to express ideas and opinions through film and other visual mediums Since the advent of private television channels in 2000 people in Pakistan use media as a primary source for all kinds of news and information People are dependent on the media for all kinds of news and stories and therefore it is important to create awareness about the rights of minorities and address blasphemy issues The birth of social networking websites has given people the platform to get a deeper insight of an incident and has made them curious about getting to know both sides of the story By shedding light on the importance of equal rights for all humans media can play a significant role in creating peace and harmony among all the different minorities This research paper will discuss and analyze the portrayal and depiction of religious minorities in Pakistani produced films It will also determine whether there is a gradual shift from negative to positive portrayal of minorities
The purpose of this research is to find the reasons and the ways of discrimination and distorted representation of religious minorities by the film industry Literature Review The international Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences defines Minority as a race or a cluster of people that shares religious and linguistic affinity Further The University of Colorado states that minorities demonstrate a sense of solidarity and they work towards preserving their religion culture and language They however feel threatened by the power of and inferior to the majority population of the state In his study Portrayal of Minorities in the Elite Press of Pakistan Jalaludin says that even though minorities lack general power they make an important part of the society and for it to be a well functioning society all members must contribute According to the United Nation Human Rights office 2010 till date there is no single unanimously agreed-upon definition of the word Minority Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan which was passed in 1992 states all minorities groups have the right to freely practice their religion and use their language without any discrimination
The Pakistani film industry was liberalized in 2002 which resulted in a media boom and yet the minorities are excluded stereotyped and represented in a distorted manner In his study The Christian Minorities in Pakistan Issues and Options Gregory says that Christians in Pakistan are treated as second class citizens They do not have any power and face oppression persecution violence and discrimination He conducted a research on the situation of minorities in Pakistan and found out that Muslim members of the society oppress the minorities in the form of murders sexual harassment religious threats and violence Ineffective law enforcement bodies result in widespread antagonism towards minorities groups This is further aggravated by school curriculums that emphasize on the superiority of Islam and inferiority of non Muslims In his research titled Minorities in Pakistan Masood Ansari critically analyzed the Ahmadiyya community He found that Ahmadis have been oppressed and discriminated not only at society level but at official level also
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