Letter to media: President Alvi not happy over misrepresentation of his wheat crisis reply

The President wrote a letter to the media in which he explains the consequences of reporting fake news.


THE President of Pakistan ,Dr. Arif Alvi, is not happy with the misrepresentation of news by the electronic media. The President wrote a letter to the media in which he explains the consequences of reporting fake news.

The letter was written after the media misrepresented the reply of the President regarding the recent wheat crisis.

President Alvi wrote, “Much of the discourse on ‘fake news’ conflates three notions. Unintended misinformation or an accidental mistake in narration. Dis-information is fabricated or intentionally modified content to maliciously harm a person. Mal-information is based on reality but is used to inflict harm on a person or to blackmail.”

“I recently visited two institutions in Karachi that are providing much-needed service to the poor, the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and the National Institute of Child Health. There was the usual media talk after the visit, where a reporter asked me (that is very clear and audible in unedited video clips) “In this city, there is a huge crisis of (availability of) wheat, who do you think is responsible…?” Because no blame had been appropriated until then my reply was, “I don’t know, but I should know,” said the article.

The President further added, “This short interchange was misrepresented by the electronic media, stating that the President of Pakistan was unaware of the wheat crisis in the country, though my answer audibly was in specific response to, who was responsible for the crisis.”

“Presented in this way, the news created a deep sense of surprise and resentment in a population suffering from inflation and poverty. The fake angle was created in the morning but by the afternoon, almost all channels were eliciting, ridiculing and insulting comments on the President’s callousness, being unaware of what is happening to the poor.

The way my answer was misquoted, it was now actually rubbing salt in the wounds of those who are going through tough times. The social media timelines were overflowing with negative responses. Many politicians in their press conferences and talk shows heaped further ridicule on the President for being ignorant and callous,” said the article.

The President further added that responsible journalism should not become a mirror of irresponsible social media like behavior. Fact-checking and verification are vital skills in newsrooms. Journalists and editors need these tools in their arsenals to ensure that the news they deliver is fair, unbiased and factual. Rather than go through PEMRA or legal nuances, I intend to stir a debate, similar to what is taking place the world over, but as this is my precious land and yours the question is, can we lead?

This ‘social warming’ on a human level is like global warming and is touching our daily lives with an increasing impact. There is a profound echo of every statement and counter-statement, every fact and fiction, every truth and falsehood, every real news and fake news. Ratings on television, numbers of followers on social media, and likes and dislikes, are becoming a measure of man, sometimes leading to serious distress, even suicides in the young throughout the world. I hope that we humans will evolve to understand, absorb and adjust to this avalanche over time.

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