On Wednesday, there were elections in Lodhran where the PTI trounced the PML-N. As a matter of course, the media was expected to be all over it even though it was just a by-election but, considering what was at stake for a populist party and how it went with the NA-154 election, the media frenzy was in prospect. However, this was not to be as another issue had been taken up by the media instead: labelling a leader of one of the mainstream political parties as an infant killer.
A rather unfortunate incident happened during what was supposed to be an event highlighting one of the mostly unnoticed efforts of the Sindh government: the inauguration of a trauma centre in a city that has been facing a myriad of problems. The14-storey trauma centre has been established in the Civil Hospital, Karachi. It consists of 18 operation theatres and the building is equipped with advanced machinery. It is a centre for which the federal government had pledged to share half the cost but then it backpedalled. Now when it comes to the PPP, it is quite easy to see that it is the darling of the Pakistani media for any negative publicity.
What happened to the infant was horrible and the ordeal that the parents would have been through is unimaginable, something we wish no parent should have to face. May the Almighty grant the bereaved family the patience to bear this irreparable loss. But the role the media has played was not in any way impartial. Many journalists came out all guns blazing and attacked the party left, right and centre. What one needs to understand is that Bhuttoism is an ideology, not just the household name of a Pakistani family that has had a huge impact on Pakistan. The chants of ‘long live Bhutto’ trace back to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when he associated the term in a public gathering by ascertaining that there are two Bhuttos in Pakistan: he himself and the people of Pakistan.
Well, the media did its job by ensuring that the issue gets highlighted and now is being looked into by a commission that has been formed, but here is where the media has failed. When the infant’s father Faisal Baloch came out, he told reporters that the doctors in the emergency room were not operating due to the excuse made by them that they could not operate because of some VIP movement when, in reality, neither Mr Bilawal nor his officials had entered the functioning areas of the hospital by then to justify such a sweeping statement. Moreover, the media failed to present the facts in the right manner as many of the people from their fraternity stated that the roads leading to the hospital were clear. With an extensively disparaging campaign, Mr Bilawal was put on trial way too early by the media, even though it has no right to do so. A much-talked about by-election was happening and the newsdesk had its topic for the day; a wise individual would have waited for the commission’s report to come out and then would have presented the facts accordingly.
Many will now claim, considering the PPP still remains a force in Sindh’s power corridors, that the report will be biased. The media could have asked the government to appoint senior, non-partisan officials to oversee the report and give their verdict to the people. Secondly, if the government is believed to be biased, it is an insult to the people who voted for it.
Also, while we are at it, just think of this as a rational man and put any leader or common man in this situation. If they were visiting a hospital, would they have advised the government or the hospital authorities in any situation to shut the gates or the roads leading to the hospital just because they were coming to visit across a few blocks? No sane individual would do so.