Drop Knowledge, Not Bombs.
By Mashal Kadri

January 7, 2009
You might wonder what inspired me to make this seemingly silly statement. Well I admit I got it off a rather unfortunate looking bumper sticker but even though simply put it does make a profound point. There’s no need to remind any thinking person that as a global community we face the severe challenges of “terrorism”(a term constantly drilled into our minds). God, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that. Needless to say the Southeast Asian region is in the line of fire, the most hyped about manifestation of which were the Mumbai attacks.

Logging onto facebook after the incident I had at least 10 requests to join either an anti-India group or one which went to the effect of saying that Pakistan was the real victim for having to suffer the blame. I was also tagged in rambling notes adorned with several cuss words and saw angry statuses referring not to the devastation and loss of life, but the blame game.

These reactions sung the same tune as Pakistani news channels which soon began reporting the anti-Pakistani propaganda in Indian news channels and asinine statements made by careless ministers and other public officials. What everybody seemed to be ignoring was that Pakistan and India had both been fighting this war for several years, but it took the hijack of an elitist hotel to provoke a reaction form the people. After all the media is always looking for a “good story” and what better than an attack which punctured the elitist bubble.

As result of this mayhem, our country came to the brink of war; the headlines of leading national newspapers for the next week brought threatening statements from the Indian side and retaliatory ones from ours. One heard rumors of threatening phone calls being made to the PM secretariat and the army being mobilized. Low flying warplanes terrified the city of Lahore, and across the country militants and extremist Islamic groups laid their arms and stopped the war raging within the border to fight the one that threatened the borders outside. Haven’t the wise men always claimed that war was a great unifier? Bismarck deliberately maneuvered Prussia into wars so that he could consolidate what is now known as Germany. The question arouse whether we afford a war? Pakistan clearly couldn’t but then neither could the fragile economy and political climate of India.
And now, weeks after the attack and the possibility of war is still omnipresent. I heard from a credible source, at the Sargodha air base that at one point pilots were under orders to stay on standby in the warplanes 24/7 in case of an emergency.

All the media able to achieve was bringing two nuclear powers to the brink of war. I ask you- Are their network ratings worth human lives? Do they have the right to manipulate our minds and implant the dangerous seeds of resentment in the future leaders of the world? Does a talk show host’s personal agenda give him the right to send his viewers into a frenzy? These are difficult questions to answer, ones that advocates of “freedom of speech” always shy away from. I am in no way advocating censorship just RESPONSIBILTY. I’m tempted to quote Spiderman here, but I’ve always been one to avoid clichés.

Mark you I’m certainly not saying that the media has only had a negative influence on our mindsets. Some call it the ambiguity of culture or a loss of identity but what it has really been is a unifier of two peoples. At the slightest irk your average Pakistani will stand up and declare to shed his blood to fight India if the need arises, but will we stop humming the Indian songs blaring from our Ipods and radios? Stop dancing to them at our weddings? Will we stop buying Indian movies or purchasing products endorsed by members of their entertainment industry? Will we stop eating Indian food? Can we really “un-indianize” ourselves, I think not. As angry as we may be at the politicians or even the army of our neighboring country, we share many cultural ties with the common man in India. But I would call this phenomena a side-effect, rather than a goal of the media.
Today’s media runs our lives, and forms our thoughts for us. Gone are the good old days of toned down reporting, all we get today on the myriad of television channels are hidden agendas, sensationalism and aggressive anchors. At the risk of ending on an Arundhati Roy like note, I must ask, have we forfeited the right to our own opinions?

The author disclaims all responsibility for the views expressed in this article as they were not plagiarized from a local news channel.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/12/mumbai-arundhati-roy

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