A media man in a relief camp

As I moved around the camps I had nothing to offer survivors but my microphone. I had no answer to any of their questions, whether they were shouted at me or asked silently.

Waqas Rafique August 27, 2010
They say guilt is absent when an act is justified. Today I felt guilty because I could not justify sipping branded bottled water as our car moved some kilometers beyond Khan Garh. People from this fertile land were without any kind of drinking water as we were asked to halt by army personnel on the roadside.

Thanks to cable TV, these apparently uneducated folk have a good idea of what the electronic media can do these days. They tell me to talk about them. All they want me to do is talk about them. They want me to tell the world that they lost everything.

They want us to know that they have no clothes, no money, no transport and nothing to eat. One man comes up to me requesting that I at least arrange them a tent so they don't sit in the scorching sun. Another beckons me to his little boy. Flies hover around the child's head because boils filled with puss have broken out all over his scalp.  "Where should he take him?" he shouts at me.

Selfishly, I gave a live report for the English news broadcast from the location. I get feedback text from a friend asking why I looked so blank on air. I had no words to tell him that this is what happens when you cannot relay details of misery that was are around you in just 5 minutes of air time .

Come Iftar time and I land at another relief camp for flood victims near a grid station outside Muzaffargarh to see what was available to them. I felt ashamed to see they had nothing and their hopes shatter further as I had nothing else to offer them but my microphone. The eyes of one old lady were brimming with questions. She showed me a plastic water bottle and shouted at me asking if the women from my own family could drink from such a bottle. I had no answer to any of their questions ,whether they were shouted at me or asked silently. I didn't even have any answers to my own question as I moved back to Multan. Who is responsible for these Pakistanis?
Waqas Rafique An Islamabad based journalist who was a former employee of Express News. He tweets @waqasrafique (https://twitter.com/waqasrafique)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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