Lighting a tinderbox

Mar 31st, 2010 | By | Category: The Nation

By all accounts, the political situation in the country is tense. The Nation has called the situation ‘a veritable tinderbox.’ Unfortunately, the same newspaper appears to be determined to ignite the same tinderbox, despite the risk to the country.

Mian Nawaz Sharif putting the brakes on the constitutional reforms package along with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry pressing ahead on cases that have been revived following the NRO nullification has set many people on edge. It is a time when the importance of a fair and dependable media becomes obvious – people need to have the facts before them so that they can evaluate events and make informed judgments.

Rather than providing facts about developments in energy policy, economics, politics, and security – The Nation is publishing editorials designed to increase resentment and fear among the people. Consider the following lines from The Nation:

The only sections of society that seem to be blissfully ignorant of this fast approaching frightening phenomenon are, however, the ruling classes and the rich people.

…an overall moral degradation whose most glaring manifestation is the rampant greed to make illegal gains at the cost of the poor…

…the rulers keep devising ways to skilfully avoid paying taxes, but making sure to levy more and more taxes on the public…

To demonstrate how the rulers are complicit with the rich to exploit the common citizen, the government has let the ordinance of the Competition Commission of Pakistan lapse to give a free rein to the monopolist-industrialists to fix prices and apply a further squeeze on the common man’s dying resources.

This reads more like a paranoid political manifesto than a proper editorial in a respectable newspaper. What possible use is this sort of writing other than to whip up anti-government hysteria?

Today, another newspaper, Dawn reported that Moody’s Investor Service has said that the constant challenge to the the government’s authority and legitimacy is harming the national economy and preventing an increase in foreign direct investment – something The Nation has previously reported is key to economic growth.

In times of distress, people look to the media for facts and information. They read editorials to receive some helpful analysis of the facts by learned people so that they can understand what is going on and make informed opinions of their own about their society. In a proper democracy, a free and fair media is the foundation of a successful government. The Nation seems to be more intent on scoring cheap political points than proper reporting, though, and they are playing a dangerous game throwing matches at a tinderbox.

There is one shining light of hope in The Nation‘s editorial. The writers predict that things may come to an explosion in a day that “would not be too far off.” Considering The Nation‘s record of successful predictions, that day may never come.

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