Terrorism and the media
By: Saleemullah Shaikh
KARACHI: A war is fought both on the ground as well as in people’s minds. Hence, psychological victories are as important, if not more, as the victories on the physical battlefield. This is particularly applicable to the war on terror because the main weapon of the enemy in this is fear. The way the media covers terrorist acts and those involved in them sometimes causes their glorification. However, just the opposite can happen also at times, for instance in the case of Malala Yousufzai where her glorification in the media and by the media has caused frustration for those behind the attack on her.
While it is understandable that the media would want to show details of a terrorist act, the coverage and footage need to be handled with a fair degree of care and sensitivity for viewers. For example, instead of the term “most-feared commander” a phrase like “most notorious terrorist” may be used. The physical war will be fought by the military, the police, and law-enforcement and security agencies, but the psychological war can be fought by the media.
In any war, the area or territory which is the most important for survival is given the highest level of protection. As, at least in the ongoing phase of the war, the terrorists’ main weapon — terror and fear — is directed towards the minds of ordinary people, and hence, that is what needs to be secured first and foremost.