Desi in DC

September 5, 2010

Pakistan Floods & the US media

Filed under: Uncategorized — dcdesi @ 10:44 am

As most of you are aware by now, or I hope you would be more than 17 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan, including another 800,000 recently displaced in the last couple of days in Sindh (CNN). It has been heartening to see the response in Pakistan where people, especially the youth, have risen up to the occasion and are working to help raise funds, run relief drives, volunteer as much as they possibly can as the country goes through its worst possible crisis. Overseas also the expat Pakistanis as well as the students studying abroad are trying to create as much awareness and raise whatever funds they possibly can.

On the international front however, things have been mixed though most times bordering on frustrating. While there have been a lot of heartwarming stories such as a little school in a small town in Switzerland has had a donation box placed in the school to help the flood victims in Pakistan, emails sent out to friends and family to raise awareness have come back with people willingly donating what they can to help the flood victims, the US government sending helicopters to help with relief efforts etc, however on the media front it makes one ready to pull their hair out.

Being in the US, I won’t comment on other international media, only on what I see. On CNN there were front page articles on the US drone attack in Pakistan and on the terrorist attack in the country, but only once I had navigated through 4 different pages did i find the following link about the UN’s appeal for even more assistance. Wall street journal may not bother to cover the floods but they won’t hesitate to put a news article about corruption.

Let’s be honest we already know Pakistan has problems, we’re not denying that, but the media constantly promoting that negative image is preventing the 8.5 million children affected by the floods from getting clean water or from receiving vaccinations so that they may survive their encounter with cholera, which is becoming a more and more likely event. The media’s reaction has been like covering the NY times bomber 24 hours while giving only 5 minutes of coverage to Katrina a day.

As for the people out there who are unwilling to donate because of the perceptions created by the media, I assure you, we both know there are enough international organizations out there such as UNICEF UNHCR, OXFAM, Save The Children, Red Cross, WFP etc etc where you can donate money and know that it goes to the people who need it, rather than being used inappropriately.

As for those who question where the Muslim world is, they have already pledged or donated in cash and kind up to $1 billion so if is what was holding you back please go ahead and do your bit. For as the UN Sec Gen has stated this tragedy is worse than Haiti and the Indonesian Tsunami combined. Even if you believe enough funds have been donated, the fact remains that they are still insufficient. The tragedy is so large that every individual donation is needed and will be used towards helping the flood victims.

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