Bhoja Airline: How Pakistani media aired the news
Written By: Omair Alavi
Pakistan has been at the center of bomb blasts, terrorist acts as well as street crime resulting in the death of many during the past 10 years. More people have lost their lives to unnatural causes than to natural ones, yet nothing has been done to safeguard their interests. In fact, their lives and the expressions of their relatives have made it to television (a big jump in standard of news coverage in Pakistan), and now it has become a norm that if you have had an unnatural death (read accident) in the family, you will be covered by camera!
Be it the air crash of Airblue or Bhoja Airlines, the bomb blasts that have rocked nearly every city in the country, all except media have mourned the losses, because the first instinct of the media in such cases is to air the news, not save lives. Although the Holy Quran states, “If any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity.”
The culprit here is both the government and the media as they have shown that they don’t have what it takes to make things right. Last year an old man was having a heart attack in Lahore, while he was waiting to collect his pension from the bank. The first instinct of the TV channels was to cover his seizure which culminated in his death as such events come once in a blue moon, and are good for the ‘ratings.’
Similarly, a disaster of the magnitude of Airblue as well as the recent Bhoja Air crash was in every way a disaster, unlike the death of Begum Nusrat Bhutto who had not been in good health for the last few years. She may have been the mother-in-law of the President, the former First Lady of Pakistan (as wife of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) and the mother of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but her greatness is not universally acknowledged.
But the government, made up of the party and survivors of her late husband and daughter announced mourning on her death and not for the many who left their loved ones alive, only to have their lives cut short by a human error. There were many mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands and wives on the planes that crashed, and their deaths warranted mourning!
Recently, the report of the final conversation between the pilots of the ill-fated Air Blue plane was made public, and it was sad to learn that the main pilot kept insulting his co-pilot, and didn’t pay heed to his advice, which resulted in the crash. If such arrogant people will be pilots, then God save us, because neither the government, nor the media will take a stand against such happenings. For the media, good news means no ratings. No ratings, no coverage!
Are the media and the government really insensitive? Will the governing party refer to the death of one of their own as a waste of life? Will the media cover the death of those who control the industry by barging into their homes, interviewing their loved ones when they are crying, play meaningless and irritating songs before airing their news as well as deliver hopeless lines as, urnay wala Bhoja Air ka jahaaz kayee jaanain le ura (the Bhoja Air plane flew and took away the lives of hundreds in it!).
No they won’t because they don’t have the guts to do that. It’s the public who has to bear the brunt of such insensitivity. Unless and until we elect an ethical government that is for the public, and the ethics and good governance filter across the board, things cannot change in Pakistan. Period!