Do you remember a good day in the recent past? Or week, or month? Someone may say that is one open ended question if there can be one; I say maybe that is intended!

A couple of recent events have added to the current state of despondency and general malaise that afflicts us as a society, and this I am writing about today – how one takes it, depends on how you envisage your world!

Let’s go back to an event in early May. The 8th would have been just another day in our life with channels beaming footage of VVIPs, VIPs, IPs and an occasional shot of just Ps from Naltar, in Gilgit-Baltistan, where the Prime Minister was inaugurating the Ski resort with attempts at a sardonic smile, and telling us how great Naltar would be to foster tourism, and irrelevant rhetoric of how the democratic government was ensuring the return of FATA IDP’s to their homes, and how things like dharnas had hampered progress and good governance.

However, man proposes and God disposes. It was not to be, one of the Pakistan Army MI 17 helicopters taking ambassadors and their spouses to Naltar had a tail rotor malfunction and crashed leaving eight fatalities and injuries to ten passengers. The dead included the crew of the helicopter who perished while attempting to rescue the passengers in sheer disregard to their own safety, and eventually life.

The electronic media already on ground to cover the event, plunged headlong into a race for “exclusive” telecast.

And now let us fast forward to the Russian city of Ufa, unknown to most till this July, where the media again went head over heels over the satellite images of the leaders gathered for the 7th BRICS summit, another unknown for many acronym, which many took for a brick even commenting that we should have thrown it. The picture that started the debate was our PM standing in the second row, and the Indian PM in the first, oblivious that the the BRICS stand first and the rabble comes next!

And then woe befall all, the faux pas to top all faux pas, the Indian PM’s four steps verses the Pakistani PM’s 14 steps to a handshake!

And that is where the rub is, and what I am writing about today!

Do the media houses, or the media governing bodies, like PEMRA at the government level and APNS, CPNE, PFUJ and others at the private level; the PAA, PBS, PAS and organizations set up to regulate advertising, and Universities that mass produce Mass Communications degree holders, ever bother about on-the-job training, or refresher training, or job enrichment, for journalists, anchors, panelists, reporters?

These two incidents, as indeed almost all prime time talk shows on electronic media; the blatant typos in the tickers, news placards, and even on prime time slots; the poorly dissected print media articles on the most part, highlight this lapse to a very great degree.

First to the helicopter crash; that eight people perished in the crash was not important, what was important was to downplay the fact that the two helicopter pilots who perished in the crash had died attempting to rescue the passengers, by reiterating that they were doing their duty and were getting paid for this.

In other words they were paid to die and not to fly!

If we take this as the writing on the wall, and we see this these days whenever there is a news of a military person getting killed, literally facing fire in the line of duty, people are quick to rub in the point that they get paid for this.

So that brings me to question that if the armed forces personnel get paid to get killed, are the rest of the people employed to perform different duties in various government departments, media houses, municipalities working for free? And is that why the deliverables are nil?

Taking both of these incidents, let us play the game in reverse.

First is dying important or saving one’s life so that one can usefully keep doing their job? In the case of the pilots and crew member they were supposed to fly the helicopter and not act as saviors.

And second, is not some “babu” at the foreign office ‘paid’ to look after the protocol involved in any meeting of two heads of government or state? Are they not supposed to work with the host foreign office to ensure the neutrality of the venue the sizes of the flags, the choice and placement of the chairs, the sequence of the events involved in the activity, and above all the placement of the media to project “their own” leader in a “better frame?” so that not even inadvertently the viewers get the impression of one having gained an upper edge in the show?

And what about the utility companies, the tax and revenue departments, the public hospitals, the law enforcement agencies and so many others who are “paid” from the public exchequer, to do their job – and we always hears that no one is doing their job.

So where does this bring us to?

If soldiers are paid to work and their work is to die, is it not time that we line up the other ‘non-productive’ entities and shoot them to death?

For if they do not deliver, and delivery is linked to getting paid to die – so be it!