Gaza attack, not a priority for Pakistan’s press

Published: November 17, 2012

The coverage of the attack improved marginally on Saturday once violence in Gaza escalated even further. DESIGN: SARAH MUNIR

KARACHI: For a country that has historically been extremely pro-Palestine and refused to recognise the state of Israel, the coverage of the recent Gaza attack by its media, especially local newspapers has been slow in recognising the issue.

The attacks that began on Wednesday, November 14 with Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza strip and retaliatory strikes on Tel Aviv from Gaza have claimed nearly 40 lives on both sides of the border.

While the issue has not made page one for most publications in the local press, the debate over the ongoing violence has occupied a front and centre position for Pakistanis on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, who criticised the local press for its lack of interest or concern.

The coverage by the broadcast media has been even more limited.

Monitoring Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 newspaper editions of four national English newspapers in the country – including Dawn, The Express Tribune, The Nation and The News and three leading Urdu dailies including Jang, Nawa-i-Waqt and Roznama Express – reveals how much editorial significance was allotted to the story.

English Dailies

DAWN

DAWN ran a news story and an analysis featured on the international pages (Pages 12 &13) on Friday and one story on the back page (Page 14) on Saturday.

The Express Tribune

The Express Tribune ran one news story featured on the regional page (Page 8) on Friday and one story each on the front and regional page (Page 8) along with an editorial in the Opinion pages on Saturday.

The Nation

The Nation ran four stories on the issue. These included one news story (Page 8) and a news analysis (Page 9) on the foreign pages, one news report on the Back page (Page 12) and one small news item on the Business Page (Page 16) that discusses the impact of the Gaza attack on oil prices.

It also ran five stories on Saturday including three news stories and two analysis pieces.

The News

The NEWS ran one news story on the National Pages (Page 8) and another on its World News Page (Page 11). On Saturday, it ran three news stories along with an opinion piece.

Urdu Dailies

Jang 

Roznama Jang ran one news story on Page 3 on both days.

Roznama Express

Roznama Express also ran one news story on its National/International Pages (Page 3) and four news stories on Friday.

Nawai-e-Waqt

Nawai-e-Waqt ran the news story on its front page on both days along with two news stories on Saturday.

While almost every foreign publication has been covering the situation in Gaza extensively, none of the English and Urdu daily newspapers in Pakistan ran more than one or two stories on the attack for the first two days, with the exception of The Nation.

The coverage improved marginally on Saturday once violence in Gaza escalated even further.

The gap in coverage of international issues by the Pakistani media is not a new one. The same trend has been observed in the coverage of the on-going violence in Syria that has claimed over 40,000 lives till date.

A large hue and cry was also raised on social media over the abysmal coverage of the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by the local media, earlier in the year.

According to Ejaz Haider, a senior columnist, the lack in coverage can be attributed to shoestring budgets that most publications in Pakistan operate on and an over all lack of expertise when it comes to reporting on complicated regions like the Middle East.

“Forget faraway lands, we don’t even cover India properly,” said Haider. On the other hand, the coverage of Pakistan in Indian newspapers is much more in-depth and comprehensive, he added.

Senior columnist and academic Rasul Baksh Rais shared the same opinion.

According to Rais, the vacuum in coverage of international events by the Pakistani media – electronic media in particular – reflects a lack of integrity, professionalism and training by media organisations.

With respect to the Gaza attacks in particular, Rais stated that it is a major news story in terms of peace in the Middle East and human suffering but the Pakistani media predictably remains focused on its internal issues such as policing political actions and parties.

While problems within Pakistan are innumerable and complicated, it does not justify obliviousness to the outside world.

“If we stop the navel-gazing and constantly talking about our own problems, we might realise that our situation is not as bad as we think it is,” said Haider.

He further added that one of the reasons for the under-reporting of the Palestine-Israel conflict could be the loss of the novelty factor.

He compared it to the coverage of the Kashmir issue where someone reading a Pakistani newspaper might think that things were completely normal in the region. But that remains far from the truth.

“One of the tools use by oppressors is to create a sense of despondency, so that even the supporters of the cause get worn out,” he said.

For Pakistanis, social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, rather than traditional media have been the primary source of information about the Gaza attacks. While experts like Haider support the use of tools like Twitter, calling it the “most uselessly useful tool”, he also admits that it cannot be a substitute for sound analysis.

According to Rais, the only way of ensuring balanced, fair coverage to different kinds of stories from all parts of the world is for media houses to stop taking shortcuts in their profession and invest in personnel with sound reporting, writing and research abilities and a holistic view of the world.

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Reader Comments (56)

  • S
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:16PM

    Because this is not what they r paid to do by their masters

    Recommend

  • Jameel ur Rasheed
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:16PM

    I can’t believe what I just read :o

    Recommend

  • Saim Baig
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:16PM

    Very true indeed!!

    Recommend

  • Khurram
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:20PM

    Our human rights champions are also non existent as for them the only problem is acid throwing and Baloch problem since thes are the best topics for their audience in the West. Anyway we all know the whole media of the world is controlled by Powerful entities and Our free and fair media is no exception from it as well.

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  • Nov 17, 2012 - 3:26PM

    Its so sorrowful,our media has no intrest in international affairs,they are loosing their integrity and social media,will take them over someday.Recommend

  • Introspection
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:28PM

    Thanks Sarah Munir. A prelude to some major and decisive changes in the region to follow.

    The widened scope of targets brings Hamas and Israel closer to the kind of all-out war they waged four years ago.

    Hamas since 2008, has restocked its arsenal with more and better weapons, and has been under pressure from smaller, and more fighters to prove its commitment to armed struggle against Israel.

    The attack aimed at Jerusalem on Friday and strikes on the Tel Aviv area twice this week, dramatically showcased the fighters’ new capabilities, including a locally made rocket that appears to have taken Israeli defense officials by surprise.

    Both areas, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, had remained outside the Hamas gunmen’s reach in past rounds of fighting, and their use has dramatically escalated the hostilities.

    Recommend

  • Logical
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:29PM

    this shows USAID is working effectively :)

    Recommend

  • Adi
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:31PM

    even being a non-practicing Muslim, i am ashamed of what has become of us…..no dignity…we deserve the thrashing we get from the world….may Allah give us hope…

    Recommend

  • Mj
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:33PM

    “The attacks that began on Wednesday, November 14 with Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza strip and retaliatory strikes on Tel Aviv from Gaza have claimed nearly 40 lives on both sides of the border.”

    That is incorrect. The Israeli attack was in retaliation of 100+ Qassam rockets which had been fired by Hamas in just a single week. Hamas has so far fired more than 500 rockets into civilian areas, with the express purpose of inflicting civilian casualties. Both sides are acting irrationally here and we should not be taking side in conflict where both side claim to have a god-given right to a small piece of land.

    Recommend

  • Usman
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:37PM

    Shame on Pakistani media!Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:46PM

    You know really words cant express the shamefull extent to which our media has fallen..Shiv Sena gets more coverage then MY brother’s and sisters dying in gaza..Recommend

  • Introspection
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:46PM

    Thanks Sarah Munir. A prelude to some major and decisive changes in the region to follow.

    The widened scope of targets brings Hamas and Israel closer to the kind of all-out war they waged four years ago.

    Hamas since 2008, has restocked its arsenal with more and better weapons, and has been under pressure from smaller, and more fighters to prove its commitment to armed struggle against Israel.

    The attack aimed at Jerusalem on Friday and strikes on the Tel Aviv area twice this week, dramatically showcased the fighters’ new capabilities, including a locally made rocket that appears to have taken Israeli defense officials by surprise.

    Both areas, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, had remained outside the Hamas gunmen’s reach in past rounds of fighting, and their use has dramatically escalated the hostilities.

    Recommend

  • Salman
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:51PM

    Because more people are killed in Karachi than in Palestine.

    Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Nov 17, 2012 - 3:56PM

    Because Roznama Express has more space avaliable to show Salman Khan’s picture going to meet Shiv Sena rather then showing the pain and hardship’s my brothers and sisters are suffering in Palestine..
    SHAME ON ALL PAKISTANI MEDIARecommend

  • Shamy
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:09PM

    Does their media cover the extent of civilians that get killed in Pakistan each day ? we are at war too…we have our own problems to deal with and the extent of coverage given by our media as mentioned in the article was just perfect..nothing more is required so far.

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  • Hairaan
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:10PM

    Because Madona and Anglia Jolie has not condemned Gaza attack yet in their songs.Recommend

  • Talha Khokhar
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:21PM

    Do you really think the Palestinian media writes anything about people suffering everyday in Pakistan… Saarey jahaan ka dard hamarey jigar mein hay… No one in the world (Muslim or non) gives a crap about innocent deaths in Pakistan… Just because they are Muslims does not mean that they are our responsibility… Oooh the big bad wolf is eating the poor lamb… Give me a break… I have had enough of this… My priority PAKISTAN & PAKISTANIS… Palestinians can take care of themselves… How many times have you seen any one from any Muslim country say anything anywhere about the situation in Pakistan… So I am sorry when I say personally I dont care whats happening in Palestine or anywhere else in the world for that matter… People die everyday and they certainly do in Pakistan EVERYDAY…

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  • PakPrince
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:30PM

    I never saw a tiny news regarding the drone strikes in our tribal areas or about Kashmir in arab media, Then why our media should do that !!!!!

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  • I think
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:32PM

    I think Pakistani media has been wise these days . Priority should be the own country first.Recommend

  • jism
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:37PM

    you forgot some other news.

    Bahrain uprising:Death Toll Mounts in Gulf

    UN: Syrian uprising death toll passes 8,000

    and there are lot more, tell me, why these are not covered at all?. When these things are committed by the brotherly nations, it is quietly swept under the carpet, and when it happens elsewhere, the love and brotherhood starts to flow out, and they send huge delegation to OIC members to different countries.

    The war between Iran-Iraq just a few decades back, where more than 1 million Muslims died, and the losses were to the tune of 1 trillion dollars, Iraq-Kuwait war,were hundreds and thousands more died.Why the Saudis are piling there weapons against Iran?
    this happened in the backyard of Pakistan, yet most of them don’t even know about these war, and now when US is after the terrorists, they say america is out there to kill Muslims.

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:38PM

    @PakPrince

    You snatch my words bro! fully agree with you

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  • cynic
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:44PM

    AFP story Dawn carried on its back page on Saturday was shameful. It shows the Palestinians as aggressors, and concentrated too much on rocket attacks on Juresuleum and Tel Aviv. Interestingly, no settler was killed and injured in rocket attacks, while death of over 30 Gazans failed to find a chord with Dawn. Pakistani papers should better try forging some kind of partnership with Arab media for news instead of pro-Israel, biased and tainted stories from wires.

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  • Gul Khan Momand
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:48PM

    @Mj:
    500 rockets by Hamas in civilian areas,…so how many casualties in these areas due to rockets, could you please elaborate??

    Recommend

  • Faisal
    Nov 17, 2012 - 4:54PM

    In Urdu newspapers, only Ummat made a headline of it today, that’s why I love to read Ummat.

    Recommend

  • Sp
    Nov 17, 2012 - 5:45PM

    @Mj:
    Hamas fired in response to Israeli killing of young boy playing football and then firing on his funeral procession.
    Pls get your facts right and don’t follow media Zionist propaganda

    Recommend

  • Nov 17, 2012 - 5:48PM

    Was the conflict in Syria a priority for the Pakistani media? Was Libya? You know Muslims died there too, right?

    Or do you expect the media to jump out of bed, put on its slippers and rush to action only when the “Jew” factor is involved?

    Recommend

  • xyxyxt
    Nov 17, 2012 - 5:49PM

    Well your newspaper and Pakistan press in general has been very concerned about Bal Thakery. Can I remind you that he is not Pakistan’s friend but enemy. On the other hand, people of Palestine are our brothers and they need all support we can provide

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  • Mj
    Nov 17, 2012 - 5:57PM

    @Gul Khan Momand:

    “500 rockets by Hamas in civilian areas,…so how many casualties in these areas due to rockets, could you please elaborate??”

    There have been few casualties because Israel is intercepting incoming missiles with Iron Dome defense system. Surely you don’t consider 500+ missiles lobbed at a limited territory to be just celebratory fireworks? It is a provocation and a declaration of war.

    Recommend

  • Abdullah Nawaz
    Nov 17, 2012 - 6:37PM

    Well,
    It’s Pakistan. What do you expect?
    Globally the line between news media and entertainment is slowly eroding away,

    News has become a new genre of entertainment.

    Recommend

  • A.M.Khan
    Nov 17, 2012 - 6:45PM

    Its just because Pakistan has bigger issues to deal with first.

    Recommend

  • Usama Bin Ahmed
    Nov 17, 2012 - 6:53PM

    @Salman:
    Dear Salman,
    You are mixing international politics with the internal politics actually. Issue of Palestine is far more important due to the presence of Masjid Aqsa & also its importance in terms of Islamic values. Never mention, invasion of Masjid Aqsa is ONE major sign of Qiyamah.

    Recommend

  • sidewinder
    Nov 17, 2012 - 7:02PM

    Pakistani media needs to be reminded,there is a country called Syria in serious problem….

    Recommend

  • maula sb
    Nov 17, 2012 - 7:26PM

    The Pakistani media conveniently ignores the beginning of the genocide of Shia muslims in Pakistan, how would it be expected to highlight the suffering of Palestinians at the hand of Israel and by proxy the United States & its Arab stooges.
    Put Pakistan first Sarah, start reporting on what is going on in this land of the pure even though it might not get you the kind of international attention you crave for. Thanks

    Recommend

  • kanwal
    Nov 17, 2012 - 7:45PM

    @mj
    Hamas retaliated for the killing of the Gazan boy playing football near their side of the border. Israel WANTED this war. Its election time in Israel. What better way to garner support for the right wingers than a good old provocation of Gazans, followed by extrajudicial killing of one of the commanders of an ELECTED ruling party, Hamas. I think Netenyahu is a terrorist and war criminal. Does that allow me to send a missile blowing his car in middle of Tel Aviv?
    Get my drift?

    Recommend

  • Deelz
    Nov 17, 2012 - 8:06PM

    @Mj: Stop trolling & take your zionist mentiality somewhere else. Do you really think the Gaza issue started due to what happened a week go?

    Recommend

  • Mj
    Nov 17, 2012 - 8:17PM

    @kanwal:
    Indeed I do. I am in no way supporting the actions of Israel. However, actions by Hamas, whether they are a provocation or a retaliation, makes many people lose goodwill for the cause of Palestine by targeting civilians, an action which they criticize Israel for.

    Recommend

  • saeed
    Nov 17, 2012 - 8:43PM

    A very good omen!! I think palestine must have us on its front page,down with palistine I think our national intrest is to be with the west

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  • kanwal
    Nov 17, 2012 - 8:47PM

    @mj
    Sigh. Its a war man. What would you care about the of the world loosing support for your cause when the same people have seen your suffering for decades and have done nothing about it unless of course if you come up with the argument that palestinians should be grateful to the world that only 1400 of them died in the last war (as compared to 13 israelis) because the world’s sympathy saved thousands more from the hi fi israeli weaponry (as compared to the home made gazan rockets). I wont buy a bag potatoes from the people who sell themselves to current world media’s arguments. I think if USA and UK can elect Bush and Blair, Gazans have all the rights to elect hamas and although wars are deplorable, if some rogue nation attacked a commander in the middle of my streets, i would want my government to retaliate to shut them up. I hope USA sells some F16s and missiles to Hamas so they could specifically target Netenyahu and Co.

    Recommend

  • A2Z
    Nov 17, 2012 - 9:37PM

    Ijaz Haider is talking crap, our whole media always cover Indian movies and showbiz news. They gave full coverage to Yash Chopra and Rajesh Khana. They do cover every subject but the one in which the masters of these media tycoons are not interested they don’t cover them.

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  • Observer
    Nov 17, 2012 - 10:24PM

    Pakistan has focused enough on the global problems, time to fix your own issues and clean your own house. Our protest does not make much of a difference, stability would. Be stable, be powerful so that you can be heard. Our country being a laughing stock in dealing with it’s internal matters, should condemn the attacks, but who will give a damn.

    Recommend

  • whab
    Nov 17, 2012 - 11:48PM

    @Talha Khokhar:
    cant agree more with u

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  • Shahid
    Nov 18, 2012 - 12:06AM

    Pakistan should extend moral and diplomatic support to Gaza. On international canvass ”one word” from Pakistan carries million tons of message. No doubt common Pakistanis are with Palestinians, but at the moment Pakistani government is run by a different clan who have come in power with the help of west collaborated by Pervaiz Musharaf.

    Recommend

  • saeed
    Nov 18, 2012 - 12:43AM

    @Talha Khokhar:
    Great realistic comment,all other countries get the concept of nationhood by race i.e arab nationalism,those heart bursting for their love must visit arab countries once,in return we get enmity of israel and powerful west.

    Recommend

  • Aries
    Nov 18, 2012 - 12:45AM

    The Arab Press, Governments and Religious leaders were noticeably silent over the shooting of Malala Yousufzai. Either they couldn’t care or couldn’t be bothered. We are all suffering form outrage- fatigue syndrome!

    Recommend

  • Khalq e Khuda
    Nov 18, 2012 - 2:25AM

    Pakistani press has been ignoring the developments in Middle East en-bloc for quite some time now so this comes as no surprise. After watching the news one can easily conclude that Pakistani media thinks that showing doom and gloom and struggle for democracy elsewhere would boost the morale of our people when they learn that things in Pakistan are not as bad as compared to global situation and the revolution is not that pretty a word. In the only country where crime reports are shown on prime time headlines, this comes as no surprise.

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  • something true
    Nov 18, 2012 - 2:44AM

    its more important to mention NRO or CJ, PM statements on media which nobody cares about than syria and palestine which the people in PK really care for. Wonder if the media sees it or not.

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  • Tony
    Nov 18, 2012 - 3:34AM

    Because in recent history media corporations r commercialised. They are paid to run stories. Gaza isnt rich enough to pay them. Time n space is money, n cash is king. Pakistani media is sold out! Its not based on investigative journalism.

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  • ZQ
    Nov 18, 2012 - 7:03AM

    The media tycoons don’t know that they’ve hurt the feelings of million of Pakistanis…They just brought the SHAME for themselves… no matter whatever the Awam, say they will play their own tunes.

    Recommend

  • Shahid Pirzada
    Nov 18, 2012 - 9:14AM

    Arab-Israel conflict has been given a huge coverage by Pakistani and international media for the last few decades. It is about time that Pakistani media is coming to ground realities and focusing more on domestic issues which is quite natural.

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  • Khalid
    Nov 18, 2012 - 10:01AM

    I think it shows the reality on the ground. Irrespective of whatever tall words we had said about various international issues in the past or our foreign office will say in future, the coverage by media shows what is more important for us right now, which is solving and focusing on our own problems.

    So not bad at all!

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  • Nov 18, 2012 - 1:18PM

    It not only media mistake,it’s mine and tour also mistake because we did’t like to listen or read story of this kind like war and media give suh story which people listen carefully.Because they concern their program rating not with war.

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  • Riaz Khan
    Nov 18, 2012 - 4:48PM

    Firstly except protest & condemnation we Pakistanis cannot do more! Besides have they ever taken out a procession in our support? It’s high time that we should set our house in order before worrying about others. They are much better off than us even under Israeli occupation. Their per capita income & other social indicators are much better.

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  • monkster
    Nov 18, 2012 - 6:15PM

    My sympathies with the lives being lost in Palestine but then again why should we be concerned? If the Arabs themselves arent concerned, if the Saudis, Jordanians, Qataris themselves dont give about these people although they have trillions why should we? We need to sort our own priorities. I wonder how many of them care about Pakistan when we get attacked by Talibaan etc. We need to stop being zabardasti ka bhai with everyone in this world.

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  • ZQ
    Nov 18, 2012 - 7:49PM

    being indifferent is a vicious crime nowadays … we are muslim come on we should feel the pain and suffering of our brothers

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  • Eli
    Nov 19, 2012 - 4:54AM

    @I think: I think too

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  • AHL
    Nov 20, 2012 - 12:55PM

    @Mj: All those Mortars were fired,after Israel killed Ahmad Abbu Daqa on 8 November reported to be a 12 year old boy.Get your facts straight, Israel was the one to shatter truce between two side.

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