If the recent escalations with India revealed anything, it was how dangerous it can be when a country’s media isn’t held to a high enough standard. Without keeping strong enough checks on the broadcasting of belligerently nationalist narratives, the media fails to play it’s own role — which is to prevent the state from destabilizing the region by informing the public of the implications of the state’s actions.Similarly, it is necessary to prevent the use of media outlets to defame public personalities. This is especially necessary on online platforms — many of which escape the attentions of media regulators. A controversy seems to have been whipped up regarding Mehwish Hayat being awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz. Keyboard warriors have come out in full force, questioning the actresses credentials for such an award. This hullabaloo has been used by a certain anchor-turned-politician to throw accusations at her. This is a person who has had many run-ins with PEMRA throughout his career, and has even been accused of inciting religious violence. A notable digital publication has also jumped into the mix, making uncalled for allegations.It should be noted that Hayat is not the first person from the Pakistani entertainment industry to receive this award. Furthermore, it would be a failure on the part of national media regulators if the digital publication in question is not penalised for its actions. Considering that online media is reliant on eye-catching and emotive headlines and titles to create advertising revenue through clicks, it is obvious why such accusations are being made. But no organisation should be allowed to engage in character assassinations for it’s own profit. As such it is necessary that media regulators take action and prevent such underhanded tactics in the future.It should be noted that the authorities in this country are never far behind when it comes to censoring and taking other actions against secular bloggers and human rights activists for their online activities. It is hoped that at least the same amount of effort can be made to prevent slander and libel. * Published in Daily Times, March 16th 2019.