Media in Pakistan

A fellowship from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies will enable MCC doctoral student Asif Akhtar to conduct dissertation research in the India Office Archives at the British Library for six months next year.

With this extended archival work, Akhtar intends to situate Pakistan’s current media landscape within a historical framework of media regulations under colonial rule. When General Pervaiz Musharraf came to power in 1999, he privatized what had been the State’s 40-year monopoly of news television. Pakistan introduced a robust regulatory system, channels and viewership proliferated, and a new sphere of televisual politics emerged.

In this transformed media environment, subsequent decades have witnessed new ways of thinking, speaking, and participating politically, for governors and the governed alike.

To understand this interplay between media and politics today, he will compare it to another moment in south Asian history when media change reshaped the public sphere: the 19th century colonial regulations of print technology and political discourses issued by the East India Company.

“The working hypothesis of the study is that with changing media technology, the regulation of such technology becomes the prima facie political tool for governors to demarcate the limits of political discourse, critique and censure of policies – the changing means of disseminating political discourses, by default, changes the practice of politics itself," explains Akhtar.