Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Verbalised Angst of Pakistan's Non-Voting Middle Classes

Cafe Pyala had an excellent post on the Pakistan media's local coverage of the flood. Whilst they assessed it to be generally good they pointed out some problems. One was the issue of the rural/urban divide in Pakistan. Another was the excessive propensity to complain, with a sample of aired complaints and Cafe Pyala writing a response to each.

They also used one of the pictures I selected as a filler. In the section on complaints. To signify a sense of being screwed over?

"I'm Homeless, and You're Taking a Picture of Me? Gee, Thanks Buddy"

But the larger point would be how our urban based media has some trouble dealing with rural perspectives, and how it seems to skew at times in favour of military rule.

In terms of urban bias we can remember how in 2004, the media in India called the May elections in favour of the BJP. They were left with egg all over their face as they realised that they represented an urban bias where the India shining propaganda had defeated competing ways of thought but the countryside felt differently.
Pakistan is proportionally the most urbanised of all in South Asia, with a third of the population being city based. So a rural perspective should be considered to news presentation/analysis.

As for the complaining issue, I'm of two minds about it. Firstly, I think there should be an airing of multiple points of view. If nothing else, it brings about some sort of tolerance for competing viewpoints in society. And since we're all doubtful how much influence parliament has on our own "deep state", it is quite possible that the way society's increasing religiosity affected the armed forces, maybe society's becoming more tolerant of dissent will also affect the armed forces personnel.

And the army is where the bad side of a sort of nihilistic complaining comes in. Ayaz Amir, a journalist and electorally successful Member of Parliament has at various times called them the non-voting middle classes or more appropriately for its extreme members, the Jihadi media. The best approximation to call it would be the verbalised angst of the non-voting middle classes. The Pakistan Army seems to be their preferred political party of choice (or some rightward variation of the PML-N), and as they staff and run most television news organisations, they seem to be running a political opposition operation rather than straight up news reporting, encouraging any characteristic that would demoralise the PPP, ANP and (possibly) MQM and anyone who associates with these parties. My guess is they feel politically helpless and they are trying to project it.

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