Tag Archives: Media

What We Should Be Talking About

25 May

Economic rationality does not strike a chord with a public raised on a steady diet of emotional irrationality disguised in the garb of national security imperatives. In the weeks to come, Nato trucks will start rolling through Pakistan into Afghanistan. Dollars will roll into the coffers of the Pakistani exchequer and the Pakistani public will, once again, lambast the civilian government for giving in to American pressure and sacrificing national honour at the altar of the mighty dollar.
The foes of the government will make noise about submission to the Americans and elected democrats will end up paying the price for the rational choice to reopen the Nato supply lines. Nothing angers Pakistanis more than the realisation that our military might does not match up with our own inflated perceptions of our national strength. Any perceived signs of military weakness vis-à-vis other states ignites national passions across the motherland like no other national shortcoming. The media’s disproportionate focus on issues of national security, defined narrowly as military might, has taken the spotlight away from local development issues making them seem only slightly significant to the national interest.
As a result, we do not care about the economy or the dismal state of our social indicators compared with regional peers. We are not ashamed of being one of the last remaining exporters of the polio virus. We fail to recognise that the cost of climate change and associated natural disasters will be far more lethal to Pakistanis than India’s nuclear stockpile.
When we are not debating national security, constitutional issues that have no bearing on the life of the average citizen take up media space as if they were the next apocalyptic catastrophe that Pakistan must brace for. The amount of airtime dedicated to scrutiny or discussion of issues that actually make a difference to Pakistan’s citizens remains abysmally low.
With 2013 being election year, it would be a pity and disservice to democracy if public debate remained focused on drones or continued to drone on about Nato supply lines. What Pakistan needs is in-depth engagement with politicians and political parties on the small issues that television anchors do not have time for. The state of education, underutilised education budgets, mismanagement of municipal authorities and their funds, lack of clean drinking water, our negligence of climate change and associated natural disasters are issues that will not only impact the average citizen but are issues that should be at the forefront of national public debate. While writing about these matters in English dailies has its cathartic benefits, until and unless the mainstream electronic media take up these causes they will gain no traction in the hearts and minds of Pakistani people. Consequently, the establishment will see no cause to give these issues the attention they deserve.
It is time to divert attention from the macro to the micro and to define national security in its broader sense and realise that a child out of school is also a threat to national security, stability and progress. The priorities in public debate must switch to focus on issues other than bombs and contempt notices because how many children go to school and what kind of education they receive will eventually be a more powerful predictor of how successful we become as a nation.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.



More Media Moronity

1 Nov

A few days ago the Pakistani blogosphere was up in arms about the article written by Talat Hussain in the Urdu paper The Daily Express. Another article, equally moronic, though less vitriolic and lewd in its language but equally inane, misguided and misleading in its discourse is one written by Javed Chaudhry for the same publication. The article was written in Urdu and later translated for the English language publication of the Express. And this was a case of a journalist, misleading his readers and deliberately feuling hatred for the West by twisting mundane facts and making due process sound like a violation of his fundamental rights.

Mr. Javed Chaudhry recently traveled to the US to cover the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue where he was “humiliated.” Continue reading

Language Apartheid

26 Oct

Fateh Flotilla - Fateh Flood

Do people who can read only Urdu deserve to be fed a different diet of analysis and facts than the average consumer of the English language media? Such seems to be the case in Pakistan. Renowned English and Urdu columnist in English and Urdu, famous TV anchor and the Fateh of the Gaza Flotilla who singlehandedly faced the jewish, Israeli murderous onslaught while not backing away from the reporting frontlines; Talat Hussain seems to have multiple personality disorder Continue reading

Confession – I Now Tweet!

13 Jun

I had promised myself that I would never sink to tweeting. I have sunk. I reassure myself with the thought that promises are made to be broken. But I really cant get away from my initial feelings about this new social media phenomenon. I thought that tweeting is for the silly and weak – why would an intelligent adult ever consent to doing something that is done by fluffy birds on spindly legs and yellow beaks?

But sometimess, you really dont have a profound essay to write or a whole speech. Sometime there isnt a whole blogpost and there’s just some brilliant one liner that must be shared with the world and therefore you must tweet! I’m obviously making excuses – but even as I signed up for an account and sent out my first ever tweet into the world – i had a strange feeling that I am going to get addicted!


Find me on twitter and see if I become addicted! My screen name is sehartariq

Hoping to speak, I mean Tweet to you soon!

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