Where Is Pakistan's Talat Hussain?

Jun 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Aaj TV

Talat Hussain’s recent adventure aboard the humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza provides an important lesson about the potential for journalists to impact current events. It also raises an important question: why don’t our journalists risk as much for Pakistan as they will for some other country?

A Google search for the words ‘Talat Hussain Hero’ returned about 137,000 links. Pretty impressive.

To be fair, what Talat Hussain did – putting his personal safety at risk in order to get a first-hand account of what was sure to be (and certainly proved to be) a controversial story – was a commendable act, and one that serves as a model for other investigative journalists.

Where are Pakistan’s Heroes?

The first question that came to my mind when watching Talat Hussain’s story unfold, though, was where are Pakistan’s heroes? Whatever heroism may be deemed worthy of Talat Hussain, it was a heroism for Palestinians, not Pakistanis. Certainly the Palestinians are under siege and are need of some heroes. But are we not under siege also?

I was glad to see Wajahat S Khan’s recent article, I am an Ahmadi. But how disheartening that the discussion of religious freedom in our own country has all but been replaced with a discussion of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It seems there is something of a convenient double-standard, no? We are incensed with Israel’s brutality against Muslims in Gaza, but when it comes to religious minorities here…well, it’s unfortunate, yes, but nothing to miss tea over.

Palestine has its hero, Talat Hussain. Who will be Pakistan’s hero?

Treatment of Journalists in Pakistan

The next question that came to mind was another bit of hypocrisy that can be traced to certain media types. Talat Hussain is a hero for putting himself in the middle of a deadly fight in a country that is not his and trying to report the facts of the situation for an audience deeply sympathetic to one side.

It’s a good thing he did not try that here, or he surely would have been labeled a spy and had his home address published in The Nation.

While The Nation may be one of the worst offenders in this regard, receiving international attention for recklessly calling foreign journalists ‘spies’, they are certainly not the only media outlet to ‘report’ this type of story. Why do certain media types feel comfortable with this hypocrisy?

We Must Not Miss the Important Lessons

If we are truly to consider Talat Hussain’s act a commendable one, we must not miss the important lessons. We must look at what our feelings about Talat Hussain’s courage say about ourselves when we are faced with similar situations in our own nation. Who in the media is willing to risk their lives for Pakistani Ahamadis? Why are our foreign correspondents ‘heroes’ while foreign correspondents here are ‘spies’? What does it say about our media that the best and brightest minds in journalism cannot see this critical divide?

What Talat Hussain did took an amazing amount of courage. He very well could have been one of the unfortunate souls who died in that adventure. He put his very life on the line in order to tell the story of a people suffering. The Palestinians in Gaza have a good friend in him.

Who will be Pakistan’s Talat Hussain?

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