PESHAWAR: The mainstream electronic media might be deaf and blind to the terrorist attack on a mosque in Mohmand Agency, but some rights activists on social media picked up the issue of not covering a deadly blast killing 22 and running non-stop tickers of arrest of a politician in Karachi instead.
“Had this blast happened in Kashmir instead of Mohmand Agency, Pakistani politicians, including the PM, would be in queue to issue statements,” reads a tweet on social media about the Friday’s mosque attack.
“Fata is bleeding and news channels are happy to glue themselves to Khwaja Izhar and Rao Anwar...and they call themselves beacon of information,” said a lawyer in his tweet criticising the mainstream media for blacking out the Friday’s attack in Mohmand tribal agency and running tickers of arrest of MQM’s leader of opposition in Sindh Assembly Khwaja Izharul Hassan.
Rights activists raise Fata issues on social media
Only two private Pashto TV channels based in Peshawar showed updates and details of the terrorist attack on Mohmand mosque.
Bushra Gohar, a rights activist-turned politician, expressed her disappointment at the electronic media for not giving coverage to attacks in Mardan and Peshawar and the recent attack in Mohmand Agency.
“Firstly, Pakhtuns don’t have a channel of their own to highlight issues of this region. Secondly, Punjab-centric media is controlled and right winged. They never discuss serious issues like that of conflict in Fata and displacement,” said Bushra Gohar while explaining why the mainstream electronic media did not give any coverage to the issues of Fata , Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan which had still been bearing the brunt of terrorism and extremism. Not running any ticker on the blast in Mohmand Agency is the latest example of this selective reporting by the mainstream electronic media.
“The Fata people and its land have been used for the last over 60 years as strategic depth and human life has no value there,” said Bushra Gohar.
Ijaz Mohmand, a senior lawyer hailing from Mohmand Agency, seemed angered at the electronic media for not showing the tragic event and its details to let the world know how the people of Fata were suffering.
“We sensed it ourselves when we continuously saw arrest of a politician in Karachi on our TV screens, but there was no mention of the attack on mosque in Mohmand where mostly boys were hit and being transferred for treatment to Bajaur and Peshawar,” said Ijaz Mohmand, calling all those analysts and security analysts pseudo-intellectuals who seem to have no words when it comes to situation of Fata and never speak on the issues that are taking toll on the lives of people in tribal areas.
“…the screams of pain of the affected have yet to reach media houses,” Prof Khadim Hussain , a writer and analyst, tweeted when 22 persons were hit in a mosque during Friday prayers in Mohmand Agency.
Speaking on the issue of why electronic media refrained from discussing or highlighting the events in tribal areas, Prof Hussain told Dawn that when states used some areas for its strategic purposes then such areas become more like a black hole and its people were so much dehumanised by the state with its policies that even media was pressured to think anyone talking about the issues of Fata as a criticism against the state itself.
“Look what happened in Quetta, Peshawar and Kabul and now in Mohmand where innocent people were killed. On the one hand, the state is not ready to review policies causing pain in these areas, on the other, those who bring out the voice of these people are looked upon as working against the state,” explained Prof Hussain while analysing why the electronic media looked the other way when it came to highlighting the issues relating to troubled tribal areas or Balochistan.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2016