‘Look beta, that’s where the plane crashed’

Published: July 31, 2010

One bereaved family left a message for someone they had lost. It read “Shireen Khala, we love you and miss you.” The crowd tried to click a picture of them too. PHOTO: ASAD BAIG

One bereaved family left a message for someone they had lost. It read “Shireen Khala, we love you and miss you.” The crowd tried to click a picture of them too. PHOTO: ASAD BAIG Look beta, that’s where the plane crashed PHOTO: ASAD BAIG As the weekend approaches, maybe the crowds will swell PHOTO: ASAD BAIG A lone entrepreneur hooked up his binoculars and started charging Rs.10  PHOTO: ASAD BAIG Dozens of families from the twin cities decided to make a day out of it PHOTO:ASAD BAIG

As the clouds finally gave way to the sun, dozens of families from the twin cities decided to make a day out of it and rushed to Daman-e-Koh, to look at the debris of fallen flight ED 202.

I didn’t exactly hear what these mothers were telling their children, but from their expressions and their hard-contained excitement I’m pretty sure it was something along these lines.

‘Look beta, that’s where the plane crashed,’ ‘Dekho, dekho, not many people get to see air crash sites in their lifetime!’

Sensing the mob’s interest, a lone entrepreneur hooked up his binoculars and started charging Rs10  for a closer look at the most interesting sight in the Capital. Judging from the crowd’s interest, this young guy didn’t just have a field day on Friday, but will continue to be in business until the debris is cleared.

Maybe a photographer will show up the next day, offering to take a shot of people with the debris in the background – after all, what’s better than a professional camera to zoom in the grim details in all their glory.

Maybe, tomorrow these kids will call up their friends to boast about how they were ‘actually this close to the site’ and how they could see rescue workers trying to dig up the last few remains of the ill-fated passengers. Maybe, they will tell them they have just got to check it out, because it isn’t a sight to be missed.

As the weekend approaches, maybe the crowds will swell and it will be like a gala with mounds of people crowding the site.

I say ‘maybe’ because as a journalist, I can’t speculate. But what I do know as a fact is that most of these people will or have already called up their friends and ranted about just how morbid the media is for showing the things they went all the way up there to see.

I’ve been hearing criticism on media’s morbid tendencies for years. And for years I have bore it with the knowledge that none of it was misplaced. I’ve been asked how I sleep at night, when I am somehow responsible for showing things to people that give them nothing but pain. I’ve accepted the criticism and tried to do something to make it better.

And while, the so called seths behind the news channels and the rat race for most viewers are the reasons for the media’s increasing insensitivity, today, I have been reminded of the real reason.

Ratings don’t increase because we show blood and gore – they increase simply beause our public is in love with blood and gore. The rising excitement of the people picnicking near the crash site proves just how much we love tragedy.

As most of the crowd pointed and clicked away, one bereaved family stood apart, watching silently, and left a message for someone they had lost.

A note saying “Shireen Khala, we love you and miss you.”

The crowd tried to click a picture of them too. And then they hate the media.

No wonder then. After all, if you are ugly, nothing can be more despicable than the mirror, no?


Sadaf Khan

A broadcast journalist based in Islamabad who was formerly associated with Geo News and Dunya News. She blogs at ibteda.wordpress.com/

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://shajee.aijazi.com Ahmed Shajee Aijazi

    I completely agree with your views. There’s an Indian ad about corruption, which says, “Yeh rishwat khaatay is liay hain, kyun kae ham khilaatay hain”

    Regardless of how many people went on to speak about how insensitive the media coverage was; The people other than the ones affected were entertained, as are the visitors of the this crash site. As you put, how often do you hear the news of a plane crash. Its only something you see in movies.

    We have to fix our own ways before we go on to blaming others.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/pracker S. Ali Raza

    Precisely! We get excited of such events rather than being depressed. Recommend

  • Angelos

    All media lovers are doing is trying to cover their tracks.

    Kids boast about such things as they are kids, you should know by now. If a family goes there and take some snaps, not a big deal, I can assure you that when they see those pictures again someday they will only be thinking about realities of life and they might pray for the departed ones. Recommend

  • Raja Faizan

    I guess that a bit too biased viewpoint of yours. Weather was good, people had their weekend, they had free time, so why wouldn’t they go to have a pleasant time in the beautiful margalla hills. And as said by some one “the show must go on!”, if a plane crashes, that doesn’t mean people should sit in their homes and grieve about it. While visiting even if they stop to have a view of the crash site, one shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. They might be doing it for their own knowledge, because literally one doesn’t see such sites everyday!Recommend

  • Sleepless in Karachi

    It’s the most ‘exciting’ thing to happen in Islamabad since 1947. Of course the bored and the restless will make a field trip out of it.Recommend

  • Lady X

    Plane bored.Recommend

  • faria.syed

    Excellent piece


  • Milbus

    Sadaf khan your logic in this article is the same that Punjabi flim produces/ punjabi drama actors and dancers used to give i.e. “This is what public demands”. Don’t you believe what you report in media shapes the minds. Do u undersatnd that media , godforbid has a resposibility. U don’t have to fall to the lowest denominator Comparing acts like these with shoving mike into the mouth of the mother of a crash victim reflects on your intelactual and analytical abilities. And u call it journalism??????????????Recommend

  • Saba

    Sad extremely sad….. this clearly shows how insensitive we have become….. had it been any of their family member involved in the incident… they’d hate to go to the place where they lost their loved ones. Seriously, we are becoming inhumane with passing time. I fear the day when our ppl will be celebrating deaths, murder, bomb blasts etc etc. Please ppl it’s high time we prove that we are humans.———–Recommend

  • talha

    Just the way we you don’t want to hand over weapons to untrained army personnel, you should not even hand over the cameras and a press pass to untrained media representative. We are killing our own ideology with the hand of immature media man. Recommend

  • http://sadaf-fayyaz.blogspot.com/ SadafFayyaz

    we are insensititve….Thats quite true….This is a site view…On the day of crash::: i saw some ladies asking me “WE want to have a cup of tea with you”.. another status:::”I m so happy that i have reached Sweden”…..another status “Plz listen to my new album..” another status, “Do you play farmville”. “get best service here,,” “Buy concert tickets from here..”…..”I am happy that my video is out,,,”….etc and some others too…..On the day of air crash…..Recommend

  • Stupid thing to do.

    how more sick can this nation get… ??Recommend

  • http://baithak.blogspot.com/ temporal


    this is not about which came first chicken or the egg…

    it is the media which nurtures, molds and shapes the public’s perception as well as public’s frenzy

    as for general insensitivity…yes…the elites more than the proletariat are mostly insensitive…mostly uncouth and ill mannered…

    perceptive eyes can discern this trait in the marketplace as well cosy drawing rooms and restaurants all over the countryRecommend

  • Anonymous

    Just because the public likes blood and gore doesnt mean u give it to them! The purpose of media is to bring about social change in mindset. yes we are a bloody insensitive lot! We behaved the same way during the earthquake and all suicide bombings. Its an outing for us. But thats no excuse for the media behaving the same way! Its the media’s responsibility just like it is of other arms of civil society, to create social awareness among people, not to pander to their misplaced whims. Sorry sadaf, but you cant pin this onto the people. they will absorb the gore as long as you keep feeding it to them. The media has a responsibility regardless of how the public at large behaves or misbehaves.Recommend

  • Fayz’

    They can get more sick!
    they can do anything, everything is entertainment for them!
    Sick people!Recommend

  • http://www.masterboy.50webs.com M.Asad Ullah

    Sad. Very Very Sad,Recommend

  • Jawad Haider Sumra

    I really don’t understand the need for your this article after you have written the previous revealing your guilt. I am totally confused. Now you appear to be justifying what you felt as inappropriate or absurd in your previous article.
    ‘Look beta, that’s where the plane crashed, does not reflect insensitive mind-set of all those people visiting the crash site. how could you or any one else can conclude that people were there to picnic? Did you scan their hearts & minds to infer that they were there to picnic. It was a site of mourning, they all might have been there to show their sympathies with grieved families, to offer prayers for the lost souls.
    We are not stone-hearted nation with draconian instincts.Please don’t attempt to justify so called seths of channels who persuade you as their employee to cherish every tragedy to their ratings, it is like making more mistakes to justify the first mistake Recommend

  • Sadaf

    @ Jawad – It is a picnic when you have music blaring in your cars.
    It is a picnic when you are munching on snacks while pointing out the sights. And it definitely is a picnic when guys find it appropriate to whistle and cat call.
    I dont need to scan anybody’s heart. I am well aware of the fact that showing respect to the dead does NOT come with ‘Amplifier’ blasting from your car’s stereo.

    Criticism is very easy, admitting the truth, especially when it reflects poorly on you, is not.Recommend

  • basma

    we have gross sick minded people in this country no wonder we r down to thisRecommend

  • Raheel Amer

    “Disaster Tourism” could earn us a lot of foreign and local exchange of all sorts. Our IMF-lent economic manager must look into it. Disaster tourists would throng this hapless country like possessed pil-grims. We can start by running promo…s featuring brains/bowels fried is hi-octane jet fuel, chopped limbs baked in make-shift-oven of an exploding fuselage, livers grilled on red-hot bits of undercarriage , barbecued babies, and a lot of forest-fresh undergrowth for garnishing. That’s easy. For appetizer, ballooned floaters of all sizes and sexes in the areas where floods hold sway would be just fine.

    Ab IratoRecommend

  • http://meer-mehernewspappar.blogspot.com Meher Zaidi

    Great post to show how trite and insensitive we have become as a people. How we are brutalizing our children, how false and superficial our values have become. Treating a tragedy where fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers were killed, never to be seen again as an event to have a picnic upon is the saddest comment. And the coffin that carried Prem Chand , a bright young man labelled Kaafir, also sheds light on where we are going as a nation.Recommend

  • Naima

    i completely agree with your views…….we are extremely sick pplRecommend

  • Ahmed

    Please for God sake don’t judge people on the basis of pictures. There are ways of capturing it and representing it. Unless and until you have not seen it with your own eyes don’t raise your voice against another Muslim. After all we all are Muslims… So much hate for each other? why?
    Where is the love our prophet Hazrat Mohammad SAW talked about?
    Even if the families were there doesn’t matter. I heard it on the news they were blocking the road for ambulance and i’m sure they must have left as soon as they were told. Please Please Please try to love each other! We all have seen how short life can be.
    After all at the end we all have to meet our Sweet Lord Allah.

    NOTE : To all the brothers and sisters. This life is all about business if you die they don’t care! They even make money on our deaths! that’s is what is the exact definition of MEDIA.
    I don’t believe in this media which i owned by bunch of ***** trying to make money wonder what will they do with that money. I wish our coffin had a space where we can put all our cash but the best part is when we die we don’t take any of these things except our deeds. Anyway Don’t believe in media they are bunch of blood seekers.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    How sick can this media be! look at their wordings look, beta Isn’t it obvious people? They were least bothered about the crash. They needed some thing to talk about what did they do? Captured a picture with families talked about it. Gave it a name * beta * LOL ..
    May Allah give us all Hadaith and give patience to the families who lost their loved ones Ameen.
    Make Dua for this country people. We need help from Allah. Only HE HIMSELF can help us ONLY if HE wills. Make your Lord happy!
    Difference between an intelligent and a dumb person

    Intelligent : He will go and ask forgiveness from his Lord and make Dua for the innocents.

    Dumb : He will give explanations on the site * ye hoya ho ga* woh hoya ho ga * ….
    How far have we gone from being a Muslim? HOW FAR!
    Ans : TOO FAR! we have lost our principles.Recommend

  • Sadaf

    & Ahmed: Please don’t drag Islam into everything. Reminding anyone of principals doesn’t equate propagation of hatred against them and my piece has NOTHING to do with Islam or being a Muslim against others.
    Believing or not believing is of course up to you, but really, making it an issue of religion? That’s sick. Recommend

  • Ahmed

    sure : ) .. Recommend

  • Ahmed

    @ sadaf : The reason why i talked about Islam is cause we live in a Muslim country! And the basis should be according to our Islamic principles. What is happening to the world is all cause we have been ignoring the teachings we were supposed to follow.
    Look where we ended. There was this hadith
    Killing! killing! killing!

    DOnt drag Islam into everything . On what basis did you say that?
    If i were in a non Muslim country i would have agreed.
    You know what is sick to me? * MEDIA *
    The way they portray the news Oh my! what an excellent way of earning money. You live you die they EARN! that is what makes me SICK!Recommend

  • Ahmed

    As the clouds finally gave way to the sun, dozens of families from the twin cities decided to make a day out of it and rushed to Daman-e-Koh, to look at the debris of fallen flight ED 202.
    I didn’t exactly hear what these mothers were telling their children, but from their expressions and their hard-contained excitement I’m pretty sure it was something along these lines.
    ‘Look beta, that’s where the plane crashed,’ ‘Dekho, dekho, not many people get to see air crash sites in their lifetime!’

    Why would you write such a thing? why would you create that much hate into our hearts! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!
    Lemme tell you what you should have done or whoever posted it . You wanna listen?!

    You should have or the person who posted this should have asked people to make a dua or you should have posted a dua for the people who lost their lives and that may Allah SWT give their families patience.
    All of them would have said Ameen.
    What did you do?
    1. Created hate
    2. Made it interesting

    You know why you or the person who posted it did this?
    Ans : Criticism is the only thing we have got! Recommend

  • Ahmed

    One more thing! I’m really upset at what you said
    DOnt bring Islam into everything?
    @ sadaf : We are Muslims!!!!!!
    For a Muslim is there anything in this world that is NOT done according to our religion?
    Is there? If yes name them?Recommend

  • Ahmed

    May Allah SWT give their families strength and may Allah SWT swap their stress and sorrow for peace Ameen.
    May Allah SWT help the innocents and all the flood victims Ameen.
    Inna lilahi Wa Ina elaihi Rajeoon.
    God Bless you all! Recommend

  • Muhammed Tahreem

    THUMBS UP for the criticism against peoplez joy for blood! and THUMBS DOWN for how you try to justify your job against it.Recommend

  • talha

    God bless you and the God bless the people. Just remember that we are all answerable to God. Don’t force any remarks that hurt humans. Media and the media writer is the mirror of our society. let the society develops integrity and faithRecommend