It seems that Pakistani journalists have become slaves to their own hypocrisy. Every time a political entity impinges upon the media’s right to free speech, they retaliate with full force. Yet, today, the very media that was sworn in to protect people’s rights has put away its pen and ink in a locked drawer and conveniently lost the key. At least, that is what it looks like.
Consider this: Why have major news outlets, such as Dawn News, not given ink or airtime to the ruthless murder of Shahzeb Khan by young Jatoi? Throngs of people have been demonstrating – first, across Pakistan, and then London – for the blind eye that the government and media have turned towards the case. As a matter of fact, the symbolic act of organizing the first protest across Karachi Press Club seems nothing more that a token gesture, considering, barely any media coverage has been granted to the horrendous incident.
Nevertheless, the true media of the people, social media, have been kind. The people have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness through their own personal and professional networks about Shahzeb Khan. When traditional media and governments back away from their commitments to the people, when deception is so blatantly obvious, it is up to the people to bring about change. This is no Egyptian revolution, yet the telltale signs are there. In fact, the Facebook activity surrounding Shahzeb Khan significantly resembles the Facebook activity surrounding Egypt.
The Friends Peace Committee, Philadelphia asks, “If what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, is dissent the highest form of patriotism?”
If the lack of attention given to this by the government and media of Pakistan may be considered morally and practically wrong, then I find dissent not merely our duty, but our only hope for salvation.
Pakistani media a need to decide whether they are going to go to bed with the politicians every night, or be advocates of justice. The world sang Malala’s tune when the Taliban attempted to assassinate her. But when a common enemy is not immediately visible, and sides need to be taken in the name of justice, denial of ink and political notice is not only shameful, it is equal to treason under democracy.