As the Taliban took over Kabul and Afghanis faced a new reality overnight, I wondered, has the western media finally landed upon the story they were seeking to mark 2021 with? It was Covid in 2019, Donald Trump in 2020 and now, just when they were twiddling their thumbs anxiously over what hits (makes the news) next, Afghanistan pops up on the timeline… just like that!
Not that I have a problem with full-scale coverage of Afghanistan – which is a nightmare happening in our backyards (as Pakistanis we can relate), but the speed with which the Afghan government crumbled, and handed everything on a plate to the Taliban, is just about as fast as it happens. No wonder when you click the news, CNN, BBC, etc – prime news time is dedicated to what’s happening in Afghanistan.
Will The Taliban Acknowledge The Gender Shifts In Present-Day Afghanistan?
As a Muslim and a Pakistani, my heart goes out to the uncertainty that clouds the lives of those caught in the middle – namely, the women and children who will face the music. However, the human tragedy might just be avoided (a feeble sense of limitless hope) if the Taliban leadership realize they need to transform their ideas of governing a country that has experienced multiple shifts in gender dynamics over the past many years. Will they do it? That’s a million-dollar question we’re all waiting to be answered.
Have the Taliban learnt the ropes of the modern world?
Are we basing our fears on what happened 20 years ago? So far, the local residents and some shopkeepers have been quoted as saying, “the Taliban are not giving us any trouble so far, so we are not bothered by them”. CNN
Twitter Reports That Female TV Anchors Resume Work In Kabul
Meanwhile, Afghani Women Protest For Their Rights In Kabul
Fears Of A New Terror & Ominous Thoughts Of What Lies Ahead
It is indeed a terrifying situation, and lest you feel you have nothing to do with a remote country in the midst of the desert, do remember, that ripple effects of every action are, but only inevitable, so speak up for them today, for it might be you tomorrow.
Can the western media do justice to the narrative or will it be all about creating content?
For now, the fall of Kabul is being compared to the fall of Saigon, fears of a new terror threat and ominous thoughts of what lies ahead. Let’s hope the coverage is sensitive, meaningful and helps highlight the plight of men, women and children caught in the crossfire.
It is fair to say that the media coverage might be keeping any extreme actions at bay. The Taliban in 2021 are far more media-savvy than those of 20 years ago. They seem to want to play it fair, at least as long as the eyes of the world are upon them.
But what will happen when the cameras are switched off is anybody’s guess.
Safe to say that it is, perhaps a good thing, that the eyes of the world are upon them.
It is unfortunate that President Ashraf Ghani fled the country just when his people needed him the most – it is this sense of uncertainty that is driving concern and flagging terror – unreliable leadership and rumour mongering is perhaps, not what the people need right now.
On a side note, we do hope the Paralympics don’t lose out and the Afghan athletes who couldn’t make it can somehow be accommodated in the games.
No Man Is An Island
These words from John Donne’s poem strike a chord:
Silent prayers for all the men, women and children who are experiencing an uncertain future at present in Afghanistan.