When it comes to covering the democratically-elected government of Pakistan, the media’s claws out instantly. Anyone watching the pundits comes to see their inherent nastiness and can’t help but wonder where the fury is coming from. Yet to Pakistanis familiar with recent events, the media’s viciousness remains perhaps the only constant in a tumultuous decade.
One has to ask: What is it about our culture that has spawned media vultures?
The truth is, the vast majority of Pakistanis have no say in the public discourse. They are the disenfranchised, the poverty-stricken, tragically illiterate who struggle to make it to another day. There are millions of flood victims without a dry place to rest their head at night. These people, the very heart and soul of Pakistan, are suffering, yet one would never know it from reading the headlines of the major newspapers. For the people who control the media, there are only pages for dragging out the NRO cases, the endless back-and-forth of the Swiss accounts, supposed gossip about who doesn’t get along with who, etc. Entire weeks have gone by with debates about if Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto did or didn’t sign a deal with General Musharraf. The heart and soul of Pakistan is shut out of the public debates, the television shows, the newspaper columns, all of it.
Instead, we live in a culture that values yellow-journalism over honesty, conspiracy over integrity. But the worst crime is that these so-called journalists claim to speak for the masses. The rapes, murders, lack of education, crippling poverty that persists in the lives of most Pakistanis is not given proper attention. Indeed, those issues cannot be given enough attention. But here we are, blasting away at the government in power, ready to shoot down every statement, scoff at every piece of proposed legislation and do as much as possible to undermine it.
The problem with the media is, it loves to tear people down. It sells papers and garners attention. But when the flash of the light-bulb fades away, and long after people have turned off their television sets, the poor are still poor, and we are all sad.
Does that in any way help our nation? If there is a person – politician or civilian – who disagrees with the government, there is a better way to handle it. We can engage in a healthy, respectful conversation to discuss what can be done for the betterment of Pakistan. That would truly be helping the nation.
The current treatment of the government is not exclusive to the PPP alone. The PML-N faced tremendous backlash, as did General Musharraf’s administration. Both were despised, beloved, despised, deposed.
Clearly, the attitudes are not directed at one party, but at the ones in power, whoever they are. The next elections may very well produce a new administration – it is up to the people. But will the culture of hate recede, or continue to haunt another administration trying to do its job? Will the anger ever be replaced by civil cooperation? Will we stop the madness of the media, and focus on the bigger picture – better quality of life for “quam key bachey?”
The spirit of teamwork we are seeing in our political leaders must also exist within the media. Let us all come together, let go of the past practices of tearing each other down, and try to build our nation up.