The Real Story

Mar 21st, 2010 | By | Category: The News

A regular theme on Pakistan Media Watch is that too many of our so-called journalists do not report or comment on actual issues that are affecting the lives of real Pakistanis. In some way, this is not a surprise. Too many of the elite media personalities are wealthy and privileged and removed from real life. There are no ordinary Pakistanis invited to their drawing room discussions.

Today’s editorial in The News is a great reminder that we need less of this elitist, out-of-touch chatter from the privileged few, and more news reporting and commentary that matters to real Pakistanis.

We have more discussion on news and current events than ever before. On TV channels, in newspapers and, as a consequence of this flow of information, in teashops and roadside corners, we have almost ceaseless talk on the doings of politicians and the rather bleak scenario we face as a nation. The almost-daily acts of terrorism we see, the corruption allegations that pour forth and, lately, the ill-chosen comments of the Punjab CM on the Taliban, all form a part of this discourse. But do we have any spokesmen who can raise their voice on behalf of ordinary people? Is there anyone to comment on the concerns nearest to their hearts and thoughts? These issues include unemployment – which has been rising steadily for years – and the frustration it generates, most notably among the young. There is the question too of lawlessness and consequent social chaos, of poverty and the inability of people to live with a modicum dignity. In all our major cities, we see ‘qabza’ groups who often prey on the most vulnerable. The dwellers of katchi abadis have in many cases, most notably in Karachi, been forced out of their shanties by such mafias. Others have never had a home of any kind in the first place. The thousands of pavement-dwellers are a testimony to this. Drug addiction is rampant, human-smuggling rackets widespread and social despair at an all time high.

These then are the real things of life for most people. In some ways at least they matter more than political developments – though of course all this is inter-connected. The question is whether our parliament has the will and foresight to take up these matters. Or does, for that matter, our media? We need some quarter to forcefully raise these issues, convert them into a national priority and, by doing so, pull people into the mainstream of political happenings. Our leaders need to realize that unless they succeed in doing this, democracy may survive but it will never thrive. Too many of our public representatives have lost contact with their constituents. They need to re-establish it and visit the areas from where they were elected. They must, at the very least, hear the voices of their people and take them to the National Assembly. The media too must play its part in all this. A country, after all, is more than a stretch of territory. Its people make up its heart and soul. For this reason, these people need to be put on centre stage rather than relegated to the sidelines of national life.

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