Nevertheless, since I accept that the criticism has its merits, I have to also admit that we at Cafe Pyala can also be accused of the same vis a vis our stories on the media. My defence in this regard would primarily be two-fold: that the mainstream media has enough space to toot its own horn (and it does), and that we certainly don't have the human resource to cover everything. The point of Cafe Pyala is, for the most part, to provide an alternative to what the mainstream media is already providing.
However, once in a while, one should, I believe, also acknowledge the good work some of the media does. In particular, I have been thinking about this because of the coverage of the Attaabad landslide-lake crisis in Hunza. The media in general, and Geo in particular, has done what can only be termed a stellar job of keeping this issue in the limelight. And despite the odd slip-ups and early sketchy knowledge, generally the stories presented have been both informative and full of human interest.
The Attaabad Lake caused by a landslide (source: Dawn)
The News has also published today a very informative (and sobering) piece by Pakistani geologists that puts things in a historical perspective and provides a much longed for factual explanation about what exactly is going on there and what might happen. I have to say also that, after all the negative stories about the situation at various academic institutes, it's a relief to know that a Department of Excellence in Geology at Peshawar University actually has faculty members who can frame issues and communicate in a lucid manner.
In case you're interestd, they conclude that in all probability, the artificial dam will break.
"Will the dam fail catastrophically and send a sediment-laden flood wave (as high as 60 meters) downstream inundating overbank habitats and seriously damaging infrastructure of roads, bridges and other communication means? Alternatively, the dam may breach slowly over a time span ranging from a few days to a few weeks. This will, obviously be the most favourable situation. It will not only reduce the intensity of the debris-laden flood, avoiding serious inundations of overbank populace and damage to the KKH and bridges.
One would expect that experts, including geotechnical engineers and geologists, would have ready answers to these questions. The reality is that under natural environments there are so many variables involved that technical experts cannot make guaranteed predictions about the dam stability or the nature of the breach. At the most, different situation scenarios are developed. In the present case, governmental agencies have modelled flood heights and arrival time at various points in downstream sections of the Hunza, Gilgit and Indus rivers, assuming different durations of breach. In the case of catastrophic failure, their models predict a flood level of 36m that reduces to 7m in case of a breach spread over 24 hours."
I have to say I also appreciate some of the regular contributors to the oped pages of the newspapers who attempt to bring in some level of rational debate to a country seemingly bereft of it. And, since this is something that has never had the occasion to be touched upon in other posts, I think the Express Tribuine's daily map of crime in its city pages is also an excellent invention.
Kamran Khan: taking a rational line
Last night, I thought in warm terms of Geo again - unlikely as it may sound - when I saw the segment on the Facebook ban on Aaj Kamran Khan Ke Saath. After a long while, it seemed Geo was not pandering to the vociferous right-wing of this country and actually questioning their logic in a reasoned manner. Because of the Youtube blockage, I'm not going to put the clip up here but you can view it here (it's the second story which begins after the commercial break, round 7:10).
Unfortunately, it seems to have enraged the cretins and they are vociferously protesting outside the Geo offices about this very segment even as I write this. You can view the segment and decide for yourself why exactly the cretins are protesting it.