Media 007 -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Media 007

Dr Hiba Tohid

Virulent statements suggesting the country does not need an army at all have been passed during several trials held on the sets of different television channels over the past week. Yes of course!

While the gun battle ensued in the perimeters of the PNS Mehran late last Sunday, tripod stands were being grounded, cameras being set, reporters fixing their hair the last minute before going on air just outside.

The gaming arcade that the military installation had become overnight was going out live to the world. Lives were lost amidst premature analyses and conjectures making it to the airwaves as the showdown advanced to the next day.

By now Bond was hard at work trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding the event. “Who are these miscreants?” “How was the security breached?” “Who is accountable and where are they?” Initial queries were set on the table to be picked loose. The intonation was definitely more dramatic while coming out in the vernacular with tongues pressed sardonically hard against the upper palate.

As the showdown trailed off into a sad climax, Agent Vinod had rounded up a generous catch, of which some were willing to talk while the rest decidedly shied away from the camera.

Seemingly commonplace correspondents and reporters had become security experts reviewing the measures at the military installation in question. “Why were the walls so low?” “Where were the barbed wires?” Somehow the discoveries always presented themselves as an interrogation.

Turns out it was not too smart of an armed force to have left such pricey commodities as the P-3C Orion out in the open without a high wall or a barbed wire! They should have known better.

CCTV is a technology that does not quite work in Pakistan anyway, therefore anything about it better be left unasked. But Sherlock still goes to add to the drama. The effect is so much more imposing when all this comes in big fonts and fancy effects, whereby the statement flies on the screen and lands besides a pointer to a screeching halt! This, of course, is accompanied by an alarming sound like a ‘thud’ or a ‘gush’ as the camera closes in on the statement momentarily.

More often than not, it is for these theatrics rather than logic itself that the statement catches any attention at all. The sleuthing, however, has just begun. From security expert, the unsuspecting correspondent takes on the P-3C Orion itself. Dissecting it from inside out on a fancy touch screen, he knows it better than its maker. “But did we actually need this machine?” You could not have expected this to end without a question.

Usually the people called in to answer this do not want it anyway. They retort vehemently against such despicable grandiosity while donning Gucci’s and Armani’s. No wonder this worthless piece of junk was left out in the open without the protection of high walls and barbed wires.

No wonder still the authorities claimed they did not let the adversary succeed in its evil plotting because all they got were a couple of ‘useful’ looking planes which they actually were not. Aha! In their faces!

The mystery just keeps building on to itself with new speculations coming to the surface. Naye inkishafaat (new revelations) however sounds so much more breathtaking, especially with the special effects and the ‘tongue meets upper palate’ drill.

Naye inkishafaat, although very inconsequential to the larger picture, are nonetheless new. Feluda is now hot on the trail of the troublemakers. “Six new boot marks have been found around the bushes. This could only mean there were three more of them!” Then there are the painfully long close ups and different angle shots of the bushes and the boots, which eventually do nothing more than give you a headache.

Naye inkishafaat keep coming until the news piece gets too old for interest. While ‘detective correspondent’ is working in the dark alleys of the crime scene collecting evidence from the site, sweating it out in the sun, there are the Charlie’s Angels who get to unfold the mystery from the comfort of an air conditioned studio.

Their revelations may be a bit less dramatic, yet a stash of glam makes up for the lukewarm theatrics. Guests, especially from a likely gender, open up to the Angels like a can of sardines. What the Angels do with the pool of information that comes pouring out is indeed a spectacle.

Virulent statements suggesting the country does not need an army at all have been passed during several trials held on the sets of different television channels over the past week. Yes of course! With drones sortie-ing and bombarding the northern terrain uninterruptedly, extremists nurturing within the territory, a 1.2 million strong Indian army on one side and an Afghanistan full of hate on the other, not to forget an almost decade-old nuclear baggage on a breaking back, who needs armed forces anyway?

We would rather hire two security guards from some local security agency who can sit outside and guard these nuclear facilities for us. While Dr Watson is still far from done with this investigation, the Navy pulls off another silly – it files an FIR. Really now, with so much investigation already being done without anybody even asking to, was there a need to borrow more hands? Have they not heard too many cooks spoil the broth? Maybe the Navy is not much of a good listener anyway; it would otherwise have laced its boots after the earlier attacks this month.

With too many speculations, too many conspiracy theories, the broth may be a mess already. Maybe this is what happens when matters of national security become roadside talk. Television media in its frenzy to outdo its even gorier version in sensationalism that lives next door or in its immature attempt to claim its own dominion may have missed the crucial difference between fact and opinion or to discern illusion from reality.

Besides, no matter how many accountability courts they run, truth will either lay buried as in the disposed debris of Ojhri camp or will see the light many years from now to the benefit of none when the miscreants, the accused, the accusers, the investigators would all have been long gone.

The writer is a freelance columnist. She can be reached at tohid_84@hotmail.com
Source: Daily Times\
Date:6/4/2011