I am a great supporter of media growth and its freedom which keeps the public informed, shows a mirror to rulers and facilitates a debate on the policies of the govt which have far reaching effects on nation’s day to day business including a portrayal of other side view. I must accept that media growth is new in the country and it will take time to counter western media challenges as well as addressing our own inefficiencies in time but one thing which is quite irritating is the control with which this newly attained power be used keeping in view the national interest of their own country. BBC is renowned in news making business, however their ultimate allocation & reaction to events and news affecting their national interest would be positive and timely whereas this newly grown outfit in Pakistan must not ignore their important national contribution share in safeguarding the interest which comes with the job as wherever there are extreme rights there are extreme responsibilities too.
China has been hit with one of its history’s the worst quake resulting in thousands of death(s), Burmese are going through the effects of one of worst tsunami of 2 May in their country where 200,000 people were already dead or dying and Indians have been hit by latest bomb blasts in Jai Pur on 13th May resulting in several deaths, but looking at last week’s Pakistani newspapers and media programmes in totality its regrettable that their share in highlighting such events in order to shape public opinion in order to assist nation’s due response over these events is minimal, unbefitting and unjust. I would even go to an extent that it is criminal negligence to ignore such events in China as the issue in hand is core to nation’s heart and mind and is not properly portrayed.
China is an emerging economy in the world, a strategic partner and a long trusted ally of Pakistan who come and stay with us through thick and thin not like USA who never came whenever the country was in dire need. China’s support during Wars and in peace time to the country is exemplary and their contribution during our bad time is praiseworthy but our media has failed to acknowledge our national strategic interest in order to inform and shape public opinion as it is their duty to wake the masses as well as the govt to encourage reciprocal response of cooperation which we always received in order to strengthen people to people contact with our strategic partner. Pakistan was hit by the quake in the capital and Azad Kashmir on 8 October 2005 and it registered a debatable 7.6 or 7.7 on the Richter scale and around November, the official death toll was 79,000 though the overall figure was quite high and aid poured in from the entire world including China. China was hit by a quake on 12 May the quake measured 7.5 on the Richter scale and tremors were felt as far away as Thailand and Vietnam. It hit 57 miles (92km) north-west of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, at 2.28pm (7.28am BST). The death toll from the most deadly earthquake of its history have reached over 10,000 and on 16 May Chinese officials raised their estimate of the number of people killed to nearly 21,000. The latest figures put the number of people still buried at 26,000 and the missing at 14,000 where 7000 schools collapsed. The Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, rushed to the area and appealed for people to rally together and said, “In the face of the disaster, what’s most important is calmness, confidence, courage and powerful command.” The quake is the worst to hit China in 32 years since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in north-eastern China which claimed up to 300,000 lives.
Pakistani media having known the feelings of such fatality from their own experience of October 2005 quake in Pakistan remained casual with this news and developments which is unforgiveable. They should be at forefront in running ‘News Breaks’ and doing reports on china Pakistan bilateral friendship and cooperation which is an asset for the state. They should have given worthy coverage to the topic and must have encouraged the public as to the possible reaction in order to facilitate walks and collect funds or charity symbolically to support those schools where all 4 storey’s turned into rubble and must have asked the public to make a mountain of flowers outside the embassy of china in Islamabad showing solidarity to Chinese people in their time of need. It is their utmost duty to show the countrymen the possible ways to show our feelings and contribute even if it is little to strengthen our deep rooted historic ties & cooperation thus building our national self respect. Pakistan may be a poor country but not senseless in a sense that it cannot respond love and friendship reciprocally and media’s role is vital to engage the nation in other worthy causes but highlight their role towards this too. Upon media encouragement if 5 rupee collection on a larger scale is given in some thousands to Chinese Govt, it will make a symbolic gesture that Pakistani people may not contribute befittingly as China did during their disaster but their support, cooperation and friendship in spirit is as good as Chinese.
Media can play an important role in country’s grooming and upgrading psychological profile. If the role of media does not change from just covering political events only where politics has been turned into a ‘national sports’ and all the nation from a taxi driver to milkman are all advising judges how to handle Musharraf and whenever, one turns the television on one nearly have a heart attack with the flashing of breaking news which is none other than a meeting of a politician(s) except china’s earth quake update, Burmese tsunami efforts or some international or national aspect then I am afraid people who are psychologically wrecked by these developments will run for refuge after the restoration of judges as their problem of water shortage, price hike, unemployment, electricity, food and oil and international recession are not going to be solved with meager claims and cheaper slogans.
Nation takes pride from what they do in their life span, our individual and national character is at stake and we are blaming others. The wreck less emerging psyche from apathy and hopelessness is visible from the gang rape of ‘Kubra’ in the vicinity of the tomb of Mr. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan in Karachi. I watch BBC and compare with it with some of our programmes and wonder that though in Pakistan media is in their early days and there are teething problems but national interest is not protected conditionally only if General Musharraf is out of the Presidential slot. National interest is as ‘live & active’ as our neighbors because as we cannot change our neighbors similarly media can not absolve themselves from the responsibility to protect our national interest. Pakistani media has a role to play and they must play it honestly considering it their faith professionally as its their ‘bread and butter’ and perfectly as it’s their work which distinguishes them from the other comparators in the international market. By sitting on chair and grilling few politician of present and past and doing a ‘monkey show’ our national and strategically historic problems are not going to solve but that time waste may cost us a lot. So Pakistani media must wake up, and warn the nation of their requisite task and shake their humanity by hitting the nail aright as china is in trouble and is asking for help. So wake up Pakistani media, you have a job to do.
Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court (England) and a political analyst based in UK