Do you know about the people of Tirah valley?
An entire population has been displaced from Tirah - where is the media and where are the people of Pakistan?
Have you ever heard of the valley of Tirah?
This is not some valley in distant country in a faraway continent; it is located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), in the northwest of Pakistan.
Recently, Tirah has fallen into the hands of the Taliban after a fierce couple of months of fighting. The main battle for control of Tirah was between the Ansarul Islam (AI) and the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) backed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The news of this fight has been covered extensively by some of the leading daily newspapers of Pakistan, but unfortunately, the mainstream news channels of Pakistan have completely ignored it.
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a civilian government has managed to complete its tenure of five years in power and now the process for the transition of power from one civilian government to the next is underway.
This is historic indeed and the entire country is gripped with election fever as the polls come closer, as announced, on May 11, 2013.
At the same time though, an entire population has been displaced from Tirah as the fight continues there and thousands of families are desperately seeking shelter at refugee camps setup for them by the political administration of Fata in the Orakzai and Kurram agencies. Help is being sought from the UNHCR by the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) and as recent reports suggest, the UNHCR has halted its efforts due to security concerns after an attack on the Jalozai Camp (Afghan Refugee Camp) in Nowshehra.
The Governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Fata secretariat, Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and the President of Pakistan are directly responsible by law and as per the constitution of Pakistan for Fata, which includes Tirah, but none of these authorities seem to be concerned with whatever has been happening there and haven't really said anything or done anything substantial and concrete to help facilitate the displaced thousands at the very least.
The fascination of our media channels with the upcoming elections is understandable and their relentless and continuous coverage of the various jalsas and other such events has its importance, but is it too much to ask of them to give some coverage to the people of Tirah, so that their voices can be heard too?
What is even more staggering is that many in the rest of Pakistan are not even aware of the ongoing war in Tirah and about its people and the kind of suffering that they have had to put up with. This is something that needs to change. And this is where our media can play an effective role.
We have seen the power of our media and especially the good it can do by covering incidents of terrorism. From the massacre in Quetta to the blasts in Karachi, from the attacks on minorities, to the cases of misuse of power by our representatives, whenever the media has given it some attention, the issues have been highlighted and public pressure has developed which in turn has led to some good being done.
There is a strong sentiment of neglect amongst the people of Fata in general and the people of Tirah in specific, given how their voices are not being heard and the fact that Pakistan does not seem to care much about them because of the areas that they belong to. This needs to change and they need to be shown that Pakistan does care about them just as it cares about its people in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Islamabad.
As mentioned earlier, some of the leading newspapers of Pakistan have been giving the entire situation adequate coverage on a daily basis, but the time has come for all of our media networks to do the same.
Who knows, it might just help in rattling the moral sensibilities of the authorities that are responsible for these people and they might just do the necessary. It is definitely worth a try!
Follow Khushal on Twitter @Khushal_Khattak