What makes news in Pakistan and what doesn't

If it is hot and you take your jacket off and hold it, you could be making front page news in Pakistan. A popular Urdu daily reported on June 20 on the front page that Mian Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister (PM), while inspecting a newly-leased aircraft added to the PIA fleet, took his jacket off. The punch line was that the PM declined as the fawning officials around him offered to hold his jacket.

In the same paper, the two main headlines are on democracy, a subject we constantly pay lip service to. Following the statements of Pakistani political leaders, it seems this country exists to protect democracy and not vice versa.

The fact is that all major political parties are totally undemocratic and are nothing more than family businesses.

Anyway, one headline is the news that the PM has decided to meet the co-chairman of the PPP to frustrate the designs of those who are trying to destabilise democracy. Poor democracy!

And two, the minister of information says that terrorist headquarters are spread all over the country and it is the responsibility of the 'democratic forces' to finish them. Who the democratic forces are, he does not tell us, but what is this white elephant, the government, for?

Such inanities keep coming from those who rule this country, their constant effort being to dupe the electorate and divert their attention from the real issues of poor governance, bad law and order, poverty and inflation.

In this climate of moral bankruptcy, we should forget about reform, good governance, security, eradication of poverty, social welfare, etc. Poor governance, now chronic, and terrorism are here to stay; we should pray that the army does not get bogged down in Fata.

As such absurdities blacken the front pages of our newspapers and are doled out to gullible people as news, events of importance to mankind are ignored. I shall give you one recent example.

Richard Rockefeller was a philanthropist. The great grandson of the founder of Standard Oil, whose name became synonymous with vast wealth, Richard was the son of David Rockefeller, the banker and philanthropist. From the start, he knew the opportunities and resources he possessed. He used his name effectively to support over half a dozen causes, one of them the renowned humanitarian NGO, Doctors Without Borders, for which he travelled to Cambodia, Niger and Peru to see the reality of sickness.

Richard Rockefeller, 65, was a Harvard trained family doctor, who was also a bagpiper, photographer, wood carver, hiker, skier and sailor. Truly a Renaissance man, one of his pediatrician colleagues said, "he was authentic and humble, but sophisticated".

The causes he passionately backed were healing post-traumatic stress disorder, curing sleeping sickness in Africa, saving the seas, and above all, saving the rugged Maine seacoast.

On June 12, David Rockefeller celebrated his 99th birthday surrounded by his family where Richard paid a rich tribute to his father. But with his focus intact, in the middle of the celebrations, he was discussing a new drug for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The next morning, he flew himself in a single engine plane to attend a meeting of the board of one of the causes he so passionately backed: preserving the Maine coastline. The visibility was poor as he hit a tree and crashed, with the crash killing him. Two days before the crash, he was discussing how to attract more young people to the island retreats with the Maine Coast Heritage trust.

There are rich people in this country, in fact richer than they should be. How many of them have a comparable life to show? How many are this deeply involved in philanthropy and humanitarianism? How many live to help others?

A little over a month before the crash, Richard Rockefeller met the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative executive director "to discuss ways of widening philanthropic support". Rockefeller had been treated for leukemia and wanted to help others have access to life- saving drugs. What a man.

And yet, I have come across no comment on his demise in the local media. Most of the above is drawn from an obituary in the International New York Times of June 26 by Joseph Berger.

The Express Tribune


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