Kohistan Dance Issue … Another ‘feather’ in Media’s Cap!
Written by: Omair Alavi
It would be safe to say that Pakistan is now run by the media industry instead of the government the people elect or the army that has ruled the nation for so long. Without media, they both are nothing as the anchors and the talk show hosts give the verdict about anything they deem necessary. The issue of Jirga’s ‘order’ to kill boys and girls in Kohistan (part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province) for dancing in a wedding ceremony is one of the many issues that the media has created from thin air, and it would be best if it disappeared just like that, because that’s how it should have been treated.
Everyone in Pakistan knows that Jirga is the final authority in the northern areas, and it is their efforts that have kept the tribes from fighting each other in the province. They have made many decisions including the one to join Pakistan back in 1947 and since we needed the NWFP, the Jirga’s decision was hailed as full and final. Many governments even respected their decisions as they were better and more logical than the ones made by Panchayat in the other provinces. But then the media decided to play God and aired the news that Jirga has ordered a killing of a handful of boys and girls, a couple of years after they had danced at a wedding ceremony and were filmed as well.
The whole country blamed the Jirga for its decision without even thinking whether the story had any credibility. The NGOs in the country went to interview two of the girls presumed dead and were able to meet them and testify to their existence. But the brother of the two boys didn’t believe them or anyone and claimed that his brothers were being threatened and kept away for reasons he doesn’t know. The Commissioner of the area under discussion had another theory which seems more probable and acceptable – he claimed that this whole issue was raised by the media with the help of the boys and girls involved so that they could apply for political asylum abroad, as they would cite media reports as proof of threat against their lives.
I will not play judge here like our media does because I am not in any position to do so. However I can ask you what you feel is the best explanation from the three stated above. Are the NGO people telling the truth about the girls’ existence or is the media to be believed here? Is the brother of the two boys really concerned about his gone-missing brothers or is he playing on the lines provided by the media? Whose assessment is nearer to the truth – the commissioner’s or the anchor persons who have never been to the area involved? Whatever the case may be, the media is right in the center of the issue and as soon as they relinquish their ‘right’ to play party, things will surely end the right way!