In a disappointing and callous move today, The News and its star “reporter” Ansar Abbasi use the suffering of KP flood victims to make a bizarre political attack. In yet another example of using its newspaper as a political organization, The News has published as a ‘top story’ an unsubstantiated opinion column – this time with little regard to the suffering of flood victims.
The article in discussion calls the government’s reaction to the flood “perfect demonstration of apathy” and criticises government ministers for carrying out government business.
While President Asif Ali Zardari flew off to his foreign visit to France and Britain despite this massive destruction and cries of millions at home and in spite of the British Prime Minister David Cameron’s anti-Pakistan utterances in India, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his cabinet have been busy in their usual routine chores that include party meetings and addressing election rallies.
Ansar Abbasi does not, of course, explain what he would expect the president or his ministers to do should they cancel all government business, though. Does he expect them to go to KP to volunteer as relief workers? Of course not.
Actually, the government must continue its business so that the nation may continue. Perhaps it is a sad truth, but everything cannot come to a stand still when there is a disaster. In fact, the real problem for politicians is that there is a public relations dilemma. Politicians often do some meaningless acts to get positive media coverage, even if those acts are only symbolic. This is why politicians are always at popular events. It is just for show.
Ansar Abbasi’s column is part of the problem. If politicians do not do some symbolic gesture, they risk being criticised by media commentators. But the truth is, Ansar Abbasi gives away his true intentions when he mentions UK PM David Cameron. What does the UK PM have to do with KP flooding? Nothing. It is just another way to smear the president who Ansar Abbasi does not like.
Ansar Abbasi then goes on to criticise the government officials for being too slow set up a fund for victims.
However, late in the evening, the announcement for the creation of the fund for flood victims and the areas hit by it came from the federal government . There has been, however, no justification why the federal government and the prime minister woke so late to hear the cries of millions of flood-affected people.
“members of the federal cabinet will donate their one-month salary, while officers in BPS-17 and above will donate one-day salary to the fund.”
It will be interesting to know if Ansar Abbasi will donate his one-month salary to victims, and how quickly he has promised to do so.
At the end of his column it is clear that Ansar Abbasi has written an opinion column that attempts to smear the president, PM, and government ministers based on no actual wrong doing, but only because he had the opportunity to exploit the painful feelings in the nation during a devastating emergency.
It is bad enough that Ansar Abbasi is so callous to exploit the suffering of flood victims, but it is worst that The News – a professional media corporation – approved the publication of this piece as a top news story and not even on the opinion page. In the aftermath of the Airblue tragedy, has The News learned nothing?