Losing interest


For some time now, the gaze of the mainstream media evades the status of the IDPs. Such are the very mechanics and dynamics of the media. There is always a newer story to tell and older, but ongoing, news, much like stale entertainment programming, loses its audience.
The floods of 2010 were perhaps on of the greatest natural calamity this country has seen. They were covered as adequately as the mainstream media allows. The floods that followed the year after that were also very serious. Not as much, granted, but a major disaster nonetheless. That didn’t get nearly the same amount of coverage. The same is the case for the incidents of police brutality. They were all the rage back when they first started being aired on TV. When citizens from all over the country realised there actually is a market for this, they started sending in a flurry of videos. If the viewers noticed that such videos stopped being aired, it would do them good not to assume the cases of police brutality had ceased. They had just stopped making for good TV anymore.
A similar plight faces the situation of the IDPs in the northwest. Though the war in South Waziristan has been bringing its own share, flooding the cities of DI Khan and Peshawar, the latter city also faces the brunt of the operation in the nearby Khyber agency, where the military has been engaged in a long, drawn out battle with the Lashkar-e-Islami.
It has been a strange set of operations, the ones in Khyber, with stranger beginnings. The absurdity of the whole affair would have made good humour if the human costs weren’t so great.
The problem with the whole situation, however, is access of the affectees to television. With a mainstream media unmoved by their plight, feelings of alienation from the rest of the country are bound to emerge. Couple this, then, with the military’s ham-fisted approach to the operation, with artillery shelling pounding civilian settlements. Are the IDPs being courted well in the battle for hearts and minds? If it weren’t for the fact that the other side, the militants, are even more abhorrent an option, these poor citizens would have defected long ago.
The media needs to show some empathy and realise that a shouting match between government functionaries can be interrupted for some reports about the IDPs as well.