Friday, April 27, 2012

The Tragedy Of Flight 213

On Friday, the 20th of April, Bhoja Air flight 213 was streaking through the air. Somewhere near Chaklala, the plane, carrying 127 precious lives -- including 6 children and 5 infants -- exploded into a fireball and crashed into wheat fields. And so ended the hopes, dreams, apprehensions and anticipations of its passengers and their families. And so ended any hope -- once again -- that the Pakistani media would ever show any decorum in the face of horrible tragedy, reinforcing the idea that ratings and sensationalism always come before humanity and compassion.

While Pakistan staggered under the weight of this loss, we sat glued to our television sets for news. Instead, what we got was a running commentary, like at a cricket match. Wannabe, pseudo-journalists trampled around the grounds where over 100 people lost their lives violently. They picked up pieces of the wreckage for a voyeuristic show-and-tell, and once done, tossed them back unceremoniously into the smouldering piles. What passed as news during those first few hours was mostly nothing more than speculation, delivered with a cruel detachment by men and women with mics and cameras, who pass as journalists in our media.

The media, whether it likes it or not, has a responsibility. We look to it to let us know what’s going on in the world. Instead, the Pakistani media has become a ratings-hog. Nothing is off the table, no tragedy, no suffering. I want to know: did any one of them, while trampling all over the wreckage, think of how they would have felt if, God forbid, one of their loved ones was on that doomed flight? Would they still have been as callous and factually careless with their “reporting?”  

Our so-called leaders are not far behind the media in disappointing their constituents. The Blame Game was fast and furious. Rehman Malik was quick to point out in his usual oh-so-empathetic manner:  “If the airline management doesn't have enough money it doesn't mean you go and buy a 30-year-old or more aircraft as if it were a rickshaw and start an airline." So, let me get this straight: is he trying to tell us that if people aren’t mindful of their actions, and industrialists are trying to start new businesses and make money, then the government has no responsibility to make sure that everything is done up to code? To make sure that carelessness doesn’t turn into tragedy like, say for instance, a plane crash that kills all onboard? Last I checked, the Civil Aviation Authority operated under the Ministry of Defence.

Bravo, Mr. Malik! You constantly ensure that the people have no choice but to distrust the government! I’m sure you’re very proud of your statement, since it absolves you of all responsibility. But what about guilt? How are you handling that? Sleeping well these days?

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