Ethics and responsibility

President Asif Ali Zardari’s sudden ailment led to a plethora of rumours. Instead of wishing the president a speedy recovery, rumourmongers had a field day with the news of his illness. From social networking sites to local and international media, everyone was off and running about the ouster of President Zardari and a ‘soft coup’ as he had left the country for medical treatment. In all this media frenzy, confusion ensued. Putting an end to speculations, the Prime Minister House released a statement that said, “The president went to Dubai following symptoms related to his pre-existing heart condition. The president will remain under observation and return to resume his normal functions as advised by the doctors.” President Zardari’s condition is said to be stable now and he will hopefully be discharged from hospital in the next few days. What remains unstable, though, is the condition of all those who are in the habit of churning out rumours in this land of the pure. What people fail to realise is that the implications of every rumour and purported news can be serious in some cases. Experienced media practitioners know that disseminating news based on mere speculation is not just unethical but a speculative rumour can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thus, honest and credible journalists/analysts do not give credence to conspiracy theories. Responsible media personnel are also aware that believing the worst of everything is not good. But what we saw in Pakistan was the exact opposite of anything ‘responsible’. Irresponsibility, immaturity and speculation were rife left, right and centre. New means of communication such as Twitter and Facebook were feeding into this. Social media is a great tool for raising awareness and sharing information, but only if used in a constructive manner. Gossip and scandal mongering discredits those who indulge in such practices. In a country like Pakistan, such things are common practice but it is time to change this attitude and adopt responsibility and ethics.

It was also disgusting to see a section of the media and society salivating at the thought of the president’s illness and consequent ‘developments’ in case something went wrong. It seems that humanity has taken leave of this country and there is no respect for human life. President Zardari is a democratically elected president; neither is he someone who came to power via the backdoor nor is he a military dictator. Dragging down the dignity of the office of the president just because some people do not like the individual at the helm of affairs is rather unfortunate. A speculative story about Mr Zardari on his way out was published in Foreign Policy magazine and was endorsed by the local media as gospel truth. Moves to somehow bring the whole edifice crashing down based on personal likes/dislikes and ‘wishful thinking’ will only benefit the undemocratic forces. In order to strengthen our institutions, the democratic system in Pakistan needs continuity. Talk of following the ‘Bangladesh Model’ is rife, yet we remain oblivious to the fact that it has failed spectacularly in that country and is therefore likely to fail here as well. If some people are unhappy with the incumbents, they should wait for the next general elections and vote them out through the ballot box. Relying on unconstitutional moves is dangerous. More than three decades of direct military rule should have served as a bitter lesson for our political class and citizens. Unfortunately, it looks like we are hell bent on repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Demonising women

Hostilities no more

The bad... and some good