I've said plenty of mean things about
Cameras and reporters were quick to arrive on the ground in affected areas. The real-time information served the dual purpose of directing attention where it was needed, while providing a warning to areas where the flood appeared to be heading. In the process the tragedy was transmitted into our homes and worldwide where it took time to register.
Analysts were spot on with their criticism, whether it be on the President's European adventures, the initial weakness of the response in comparison to the 2005 earthquake or the apathy of the international community.
The media's pressure greatly contributed in turning these wrongs into rights. The President and his government slowly moved into action (not as we would have hoped of course but better than their preliminary slumber), the Pakistani public, especially the youth, mobilized brilliantly, and the world was shamed into opening its wallets.
IVS Flood Victims Support is an initiative by Students Council and Rahnuma at the Indus Valley School or Art and Architecture. Photo Courtesy DAWN.
Surprisingly even the much maligned television anchors, forever accused of sensationalism, put their influence to constructive use. Kashif Abbasi (ARY) and Talat Hussain (Aaj News) started their own fundraising campaign, urging those people who complained of a lack of trust in the government, to donate to them instead. The initiative and transparency shown by the two is a model for the entrepreneurial spirit shown by many others in the country.
Similarly with the
These are tough times for
I don't have a beef with the articles themselves, but I do feel that in a newspaper with an international reputation, they seem awfully out of place. Sure you can put them in a blog where it is OK to be controversial or rude or whatever, but you can't label a nation as 'human cockroaches' or even worse (and I'm quoting directly here) call it a 'barbaric, degenerate nation reveling in bloodlust', however sarcastic you are, in a widely circulated publication. Then again maybe it's my fault, after all I shouldn't expect much of a newspaper whose opinion pages resemble a chaotic blog and whose wisest writer is a standup comedian.
My point is the incident was gruesome and condemnable for sure but I am not prepared to believe that it is a microcosm of the conscience of a 170 million people. The fact that the killings were brought to light, condemned by all and sundry, and are leading to protests for an improved system of justice and law (here's a report and a video of a rally held in Islamabad today), is a sign that Pakistanis are not barbaric as Fasi Zaka will have us believe. Saying that the mob that killed those boys is representative of all of us is like the international notion of saying that most Pakistanis are with the Taliban. Simplistic and patently untrue.
As a friend on Facebook put it, the violence is as bad as normal people walking into a school and killing dozens of kids, or priests molesting children, both of which happened in some of the most developed countries in the world. In the aftermath of those incidents the requisite outrage was coupled with a desire to understand the problem and put it into perspective. But there weren't any op-eds in the New York Times saying that the Columbine killer represented all of
If anything, the 'we are the mob in Sialkot' theory can be put to bed by something else happening right now. It might just be me but I believe we are witnessing one of the extraordinary events of recent times: the remarkable mobilization of Pakistanis, taking the challenge of dealing with the biggest natural calamity in years into their own hands. From donating to fundraising to volunteering, thousands of ordinary citizens, young and old, poor and rich, are showing outstanding character and spirit.
Amidst the ruins, this is a story that also needs to be told.