Mar 7, 2009

Misguided patriotism

Saturday, March 07, 2009Since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team early this week, we have been hit by what our media evidently sees as some kind of attempt at patriotism. Within hours of the incident, anchors hosting news shows and many analysts they called in to comment on what had happened began insisting that India was responsible for the attack. There is no way of knowing how or why they reached this instant conclusion. Certainly, given that none of the gunmen were apprehended, there was little in terms of solid evidence. The argument that the attackers looked like those who hit Mumbai does not mean anything at all. Should we then assume clairvoyance? What these media pundits, caught up in their own misguided zeal, seem not to realize is that they are in fact hurting Pakistan's interests rather than serving them. While there may have been an attempt to emulate the Indian media in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the fact is that resorting to the level of immaturity and bigotry displayed by their Indian counterparts does no good at all. Pakistan would have created a far better impression of itself had it shown the capacity to rise above the level of the Indians and demonstrate a true desire to discover who was behind the attacks, rather than merely pointing in a particular direction.There is still time to make such amends. We seem to have become caught up in a general effort to lay responsibility somewhere or the other; some blame Salmaan Taseer, others Shahbaz Sharif; still others the agencies. The fact is that any kind of truth will emerge only if we can carry out a proper, impartial investigation. This is possible only if pre-conceptions are put aside and an all-out effort made to arrive at the truth. This is what the media should be focusing on. Rather than itself reaching conclusions as to who is responsible, the role of journalists should be to demand a full inquiry and to press for this. The interests of Pakistan would be far better served by such a policy. If Indian involvement was discovered at some level, such findings would have far greater credibility if they came in an environment that was not marred by prejudice and the hurling of wild accusations. The tone adopted by our media has simply shown we are no better than the Indians. This evidence of blind bias will take us nowhere, and in the longer run may complicate the task of getting to the truth.

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