Pakistani TV cameras trained on US polls

November 3rd, 2008 - 11:31 am ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Nov 3 (IANS) Every morning, Pakistan wakes up to television programmes on the US election. The discussions, analysis and forecasts continue through the day till midnight talk shows, with news channels promising live footage of campaign rallies and regular updates.”See who rules the world, watch live transmission of US polls,” says a promo by GEO television. The channel, along with other like AAJ, ARY and Dawn, has sent its correspondents to the US to cover the elections.

Most of these channels are showing live pictures while smaller channels are getting audio from their correspondents. Some of the channels have also arranged discussions in the US. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US and Britain, also hosted a programme on the American elections from Boston that was telecast on GEO.

“I don’t know why the media is so interested in American elections when we have so many of our own issues that need to be reported,” says Tanveer Mufti, a university student.

However, journalist Iftikhar Ahmed of Dharti TV says: “Since 9/11 the American elections have become our own issue. We (the people of Pakistan) are expecting some big changes after Tuesday’s polls. And the media is trying to tell the people that nothing big is going to happen.”

Ahmed, who like many journalists switched to the electronic media from print after the government in Pakistan allowed private TV channels in 2001, is of the view that “unhealthy” competition among the news channels has created confusion even “among top journalists”.

Be that as it may, right from state-run Pakistan Television to regional channels, all are focussed on Tuesday’s polls.

“Even the American people don’t know the process of presidential elections, while I am amazed that here everyone is talking about the Obama-McCain fight,” said Abid Hussain, an American doctor of Pakistani origin.

Hussain, who is on a visit here, said that he never expected the Pakistani media to take so much interest in the American elections.

Of the two US presidential candidates, the popular support in Pakistan is for Barack Hussein Obama. Since his father was Muslim, many think that he must have a soft corner towards Muslims.

The Pakistani media has also found Obama’s Pakistan connection through his mother Ann Dunham, who worked in Punjab from 1987 to 1992 as Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) consultant.

Moreover, Obama’s choice of Joseph Biden for vice-president candidate is also a big attraction for many Pakistanis as he has been the key architect of the new US support package for Pakistan.

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