India vs Pakistan– Media and the Public

The past few days have been particularly terrible considering the level of skirmishes that the two neighbors- India and Pakistan have seen. After the Pulwama attacks that took the lives of 40 CRPF soldiers, the Indian Defense Forces responded with an airstrike which claimed the lives of more than 200 Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists. Soon after this, an Indian Air Force plane was lost. An IAF pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani defense personnel. After a wait of 56 hours, he was finally released on 1 March 2019. Whilst all these incidents occurred, there is one facet that glaringly reared its ugly head ─ the amount of miscommunication and panic caused by media. Quite obviously, this matter is one of great sensitivity.

Over the years, the media has made mistakes while reporting, for example, in case of the 26/11 terror attacks, false information was passed by various media platforms. But, it has also learnt and evolved during this time. With advancements in technology, the dissemination of information now occurs through innumerable platforms at a speed which is incomprehensible. There is no dearth of sources for the audience to consume data about the ongoing situation. While, one would think that this gives the audience a wide spectrum of ways to receive information, it comes with an extremely dangerous side effect- Fake News. It has become more and more evident that there has been a proliferation of incorrect information.

In the race of being the first sources of any new development or breaking news, credibility and fact checking have taken the back seat. Social media platforms have only added to this menace as there is absolutely no way that the fact of a post can be checked there. What this eventually leads to is widespread panic that causes people to not process information properly. Over the past few days, the developments between India and Pakistan have been the headlines for every news organization ─ print, broadcast and digital. People across the country are looking for information that would point to a final outcome. We all know that India and Pakistan have always considered each other anything except allies.

The relationship has been strained since Partition. Both the countries have been at war with each other thrice- 1965, 1971 and 1999. There have been many close calls since then. In another absolutely unnecessary move, the Indian media released information about the pilot’s family to the public. One would think that they would have known the serious state of matters and how crucial any bit of information can be. But, that is clearly not the case. But, what is also very disheartening and unbelievable is the way citizens of the country are reacting. Their calls for war and more violence is disturbing. A call for shedding the blood of Pakistanis and more of our own, when they stay back in the comfort of their homes is uncalled for.

Media, traditional and new alike, are adding fuel to this fire by considering this to be a competition. Many forwards through social media platforms are making rounds, spreading false information among the public. Various rallies are being held, slogans are being shouted, all asking for war and the enemy to be destroyed. But, it is during times like these that we need to understand that the defense forces are here for the protection of the nation. Their sweat and blood goes into their jobs every day. It is easy to call for violent measures to be taken when you are not the one directly facing the consequences. Thus, it is high time that the citizens also take account of their actions and not create a ruckus out of this sensitive situation.

In addition to that, the fourth pillar of democracy, our media, should understand the power that they hold, especially during times like these and ensure that they help in educating the audience properly. The need to lay down more lives is never justifiable and therefore, it is the need of the hour for people to understand the gravity of the situation and the impact their actions would have. The media needs to be held accountable and only after information is verified should it passed on. It is media of both countries which should exercise caution. War mongering can have dire consequences and it is high time that people realize it.

Picture Credits : thenewsminute

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