A matter of priorities
“Tumhein hum yaad aenge, zamana beet jaane do (you will remember me, let the tides of time brush off the shores)”. This was one of his last statuses on Facebook. I wonder who would remember him except his family and close friends now that he has gone
What does this nation like talking about? What matters have been of particular interest to the public in the past few years? Let’s recall. The recent fontgate melodrama has left people dumbfounded owing to which it has been one of the most discussed topics of the past week. The submission of the report prepared by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on the Panamagate scandal was the directly associated issue that drew tremendous public attention. 60 days ago the whole nation was on a standby waiting for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the same case. It was undoubtedly the result of the unforgettable dharnas that helped in uniting people along with providing them with some entertainment (who does not enjoy political battle of words between our serving legislators?).
The whole debate kindled over a year ago when more than 11 million documents, known as the Panama Papers, belonging to a Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, were leaked by an anonymous source. Before this, we had the captivating issue of alleged rigging in 2013 elections preceded by the election itself. Peeking into the past, the people of this country were never left deprived of issues that could occupy their minds. The government that aimed at writing history helped in adding several chapters to our books of Pakistan Studies, such as those related to the indictment of Raja Pervez Ashraf in rental power case, the conviction of Yousaf Raza Gillani, the witnessed delay in abolishing 58-2(b), the notorious memogate controversy, the investigation of Benzair Bhutto’s assassination by a team from Scotland Yard, and the most-awaited resignation of Pervez Musharraf. The list of such enthralling events dates back to the very inception of Pakistan, let alone the moment of the idea’s conception. Everything has been subject to change in Pakistan, from governments and forms of government to events and situations. What has not changed and does not seem to change is the targeting and victimisation of law enforcers, one of the latest victims being District Police Officer (DPO) Qilla Abdullah Sajid Khan Mohmand.
10 July 2017. Sajid Khan posted a status on Facebook, wishing his granddaughter Adeeva on her birthday. Same day, some hours later, he was not there anymore to see and look after any of his children or grandchildren. He was killed in the line of duty. There could not, or at least should not, have been a bigger and more important piece of news than this. Yet, the recommendations proposed by the JIT in its report submitted to the Supreme Court on the same day were given more weightage and coverage by mainstream media. An unsung hero lost his life in a suicide attack, yet this country’s media and populace gave undue priority to the political heroes they worship. A son of this soil was being laid to rest, yet all that interested us was the fate of our premier and his family.
“Tumhein hum yaad aenge, zamana beet jaane do (you will remember me, let the tides of time brush off the shores)”. This was one of his last statuses on Facebook. I wonder who would remember him except his family and close friends now that he has gone. This nation has a legacy of letting down and disremembering its true heroes, especially those belonging to the police department.
Four policemen, including SP Quaidabad Mubarik Shah, were gunned down in Quetta on Thursday. A single ticker and a slight mention in the headlines is all that suited. Why? Because they were supposed to die in such a manner? Because putting their lives in danger is what they were paid for? Because wearing the uniform makes them immune from getting public sympathy and considerate regard? Have we forgotten the suicide blast in Lahore that claimed the lives of six police officials, including SSP Operations of Punjab Police Zahid Gondal and DIG Traffic Lahore Capt (retd) Ahmad Mobin? Who was the real target of that suicide blast? Pharmacists? Public? Or the cops? This does not really matter once you see the bodies of all three lying side by side.
People remember seeing Ahmad Mobin on their television screens when he was mediating with the protestors gathered outside the Punjab Assembly. The same people are giving examples of the love Sajid Khan housed in his heart for his grandson Aaliyan. Even if these instances are unable to leave a scar on our hearts and sensitise it with the respect and honour they actually deserve then it is difficult to imagine what would.
Sajid Khan’s martyrdom has brought into limelight several problems some of which are deeply rooted in our mindset, while others are being simply overlooked.
First, our media has miserably failed in differentiating between news and analysis. A piece of news is an event, incident or accident that occurs, while all the further developments are a part of its follow-up. Nonetheless, the trend followed by our media houses dictates them to run one ticker telling about the incident and the following tickers about statements given by different people. This consumes the major chunk of an average bulletin. The leftover portion is nicely distributed between sections of sports, entertainment and weather. The news which is given importance by a media channel tells about its inclination and bias. It, however, does an immeasurable amount of irrevocable injustice to the field and ethics of journalism. It is when you choose sides that you kill the spirit of reporting news as it occurs. And this particularly happens when you amalgamate the essentials of the incident with your analysis and choose to show your audience only one side of the story. In such a scenario, it is on the public to remember that there always is a flipside.
Second, it is the black sheep that represent our police and portray a negative image of them. Reprobates exist everywhere. But so do the principled. Then why is it that our minds, as that of an average citizen, cannot perceive a police officer to be anything more than a morally wretched office-holder who will, at any cost, misuse the power vested in him? Yes, there are such scapegraces who have earned the department nothing but infamy and disrepute, but equating all with a few is the injustice we have served to them. They deserve respect because they are from us.
Balochistan and its citizens have been neglected since forever and this attitude was verily reflected in the coverage given to Sajid Khan’s martyrdom. All lives matter, but some lives matter more than others and this is precisely the message our ruling government and media gave by burying the news of his assassination along with him
The last point might pinch the stakeholders, but the truth is always bitter. Balochistan and its citizens have been neglected since forever and this attitude was verily reflected in the coverage given to Sajid Khan’s martyrdom. All lives matter, but some lives matter more than others and this is precisely the message our ruling government and media gave by burying the news of his assassination along with him. The clashing difference between the funding of terrorists and the claims made regarding eradication of terrorism are not unknown to anyone. Yet these officers hardly ever disobey the instructions given to them, and willingly serve to contribute their share. Why do we and till when will we corner one province? When will the blood shed in Balochistan be as precious as that in Punjab? When will all the lives matter equally?
A little has been written on SSP Sajid Khan Mohmand since his demise, so let this piece serve as a eulogy as well as a food for thought given that prevalent trends are seldom altered.