IT is heart-wrenching to see the focus of mainstream media on the possible arrest and disqualification of the ousted prime minister rather than on the millions of people who have been battling for their survival in this difficult time when we have floods across the country.

Sindh is seemingly the most affected where 23 of the 29 districts have been declared calamity-hit, with people in Sukkur, Khairpur, Shikarpur and Larkana struggling to survive. We can criticise the government all we like, and we should, but we should also consider the fact that in the wake of the climate change phenomenon, the monsoon season this year has been unprecedented.

Some areas in Sindh have received more than 150mm rainfall in a single day. It is more than enough to cause floods and destroy the lives of the downtrodden. In rural Sindh, millions have been displaced as their mud houses have been inundated, water in the fields has destroyed the crops, and people are struggling for ration supplies and shelter.

The Sindh government has set up relief camps, mostly in government schools, in every district. Pumping water out from the affected areas by the authorities fell short given the scale of water on the streets. In Sukkur, people are using boats to move from one place to another. The overall situation is far from normal for the millions of affected people.

But it saddens me to see that the so-called champions of human rights, members of civil society and leading anchorpersons and journalists, who always stay in the limelight when anything happens in the country, are silent and asleep. Their silence in the early days of the disaster and their meek coverage later actually made me angry.

They could, and should, have mobilised the urban population in cities, like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, by telling them of the horrors unleashed by the monsoons this year. For more than a week, they just went about their business as usual, and it was only after images and videos started going around on social media that the mainstream and so-called professional media woke up to the reality.

Why is it that the national media continues to ignore people and happenings in areas that are away from urban Pakistan? Are they, the people, not Pakistanis? Why is it that they, the mediapersons, highlight everything that happens in the main cities even when there is no ‘news’ value?

Even weak media coverage has mobilised people in urban areas, and relief efforts and supplies have started picking up pace.

Just imagine the response a timely, focussed and, may I dare say, professional coverage would have ensured. Many lives could have been saved, the misery of thousands would have been much less.

Nisar Ahmed
Khairpur

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2022

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