Passive Voice, Passive Victims


There’s a great post on CHUP! today about The Brain Drain Curse. I highly recommend reading it as it makes an excellent point, and one that Shehrabo Taseer made recently in an interview: We can’t just give up Pakistan to fundo crazies and the lowest common denominator of citizen.

But there is one part of the blog post that I want to take issue with. Abdul writes the following:

Pakistan has been defiled and tainted by the Western media, and we have come to be recognized as a country of marked people. Not a day goes by without mention of some bomb attack or a suicide bombing. Everything, at once, seems to be going horribly wrong. Ministers are killed in broad daylight; the country’s sovereignty is breached on a daily basis, starvation and suicides have risen meteorically and politicians continue to make a fool of themselves.

First of all, Pakistan has not be defiled and tainted by the Western media. Western media did not bomb Faisalabad. Western media did not attack a funeral procession. Western media is not killing people. Pakistan is being defiled and tainted by jihadi militants and their sympathisers and facilitators in the country.

What bothers me about this, however, is the way that it uses so much passive voice to make us passive victims. “Ministers are being killed”, “the country’s sovereignty is being breached”…No. JIHADI EXTREMISTS are killing ministers. JIHADI EXTREMISTS are killing mourners. JIHADI EXTREMISTS are breaching the country’s sovereignty.

Dawn reported about a briefing by the military that showed that drone attacks are killing terrorists, and that a large number of those terrorists are foreigners who have violated the nation’s sovereignty – and they’re not Western media or CIA

The Military’s 7-Dvision’s official paper on the attacks till Monday said that between 2007 and 2011 about 164 predator strikes had been carried out and over 964 terrorists had been killed.

Of those killed, 793 were locals and 171 foreigners, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos and Moroccans.

I was infuriated today when I read news reports about the bombing in Faisalabad that killed so many innocent people. The news reports added insult to the injury of the attack by making a mystery of those responsible. Look at what the IG Punjab is reported to say and how Express Tribune (one of the better newspapers) covered it:

Iqbal said the Punjabi Taliban had nothing to do with the blast in Faisalabad. He blamed a banned outfit for the bombing.

Taliban spokesman ADMITTED THE ATTACK. So why does IG Punjab refuse to say this? Instead he blames “a banned outfit”. Why not name the banned outfit? Why always make the obvious into a mystery?

Even if every bright young mind returns to Pakistan to improve the nation, nothing will get better as long as we refuse to face reality and say the name of our enemy. The biggest threat to Pakistan is not drones. It’s not Raymond Davis. It’s not Western media. It’s the damned jihadis who are killing us by the thousands. It doesn’t take a genius to see that.




Author: Mahmood Adeel