With the death toll reaching 100 in the four-day carnage in Karachi it was illuminating to watch the day’s coverage by various TV channels such as PTV News, Express 24/7, Express News, Geo News, Aaj News, CNBC, Metro One, and ARY News.
The news reports exposed the biases of the channels whether that was intentional or unintentional was hard to deduce but it was obvious to a discerning viewer that the pendulum swung on one ethnic side. Majority of the channels showed the misery of the urdu-speaking community residing in Qasba colony, Orangi even though there is a strong presence of the Pakhtun population in the area.
CNBC which of late has become very active in talking to people on the street was the only channel that had the public speak from both sides of the ethnic divide. Although earlier in the day it did show its blatant insensitivity when women were shown fleeing Qasba, and the reporter thrusted his mike and asked “what are your sentiments?”!!! to which the woman replied that she couldn’t talk to him at the moment. I wish she had given a tight slap to the correspondent and turned around and asked him how he would have felt if his house was being attacked and they had no place to go and how he would have felt if his family was hungry for the last three days because they couldn’t buy any groceries. The imbecile man then asked another fleeing woman the same question, she completely ignored him and told her daughter to quickly wear her chappals and hurry along with her. Needless to say, she should have whacked him with those very chappals for his idiotic query.
Later in the evening in the 8 p.m slot, majority of the channels had their talk show anchorpersons discussed Karachi’s khoon ki holi and the likes. It was frustrating to see participants mainly belonging to three political parties PPP, MQM and ANP not taking names of each other for being partially responsible for their share in making Karachi the battlefield it has become. The discussion kept going in circles in most talk shows that one had a strong sense of deja vu.
Surprisingly the otherwise ditzy Sharmila Farooqi of PPP, guest at Kamran Shahid’s Frontline programme in Express 24/7 , directly confronted MQM’s Dr Sagheer Ahmed and told him that Karachi does not have individual ownership and has collective ownership. Her loud and clear message to the former allies of her party that is the MQM which has the problem with ANP and the pakhtun people and they have to live and let live.
Unfortunately this is a motto that it refuses to adopt.