The Pakistani 'Positive News' Brigade
Some Pakistanis are finding creative ways to cut through the doom and gloom
The news coming out of Pakistan these days is pretty bleak; our last three articles on the country, for example, involved links between Osama bin Laden and Pakistani intelligence, Pakistan intelligence arresting C.I.A. informants, and the chilling footage of an extrajudicial killing. But, under the radar, several Pakistanis are trying to surface the good news amidst all the talk of Islamic militants and power struggles and ungovernable tribal regions.
In The Wall Street Journal today, Tom Wright highlights the website The Good News, which was founded by two brothers, Majid and Mahmood Mirza, to highlight the fact that "God has blessed Pakistan with a diversity of food, fresh water, profoundly inspirational people, beautiful mountains, [and] beaches." The site's most recent articles discuss Pakistani scientists mapping a genome and the U.N. praising Pakistani peacekeepers in Liberia.
Also today, The New York Times highlights the work of the AP's chief photographer in Pakistan, Muhammed Muheisen. The Times explains that Muheisen "is the first to acknowledge that the 'bloody image' often predominates in coverage of Pakistan" and that his mission to capture scenes of daily life "provoked skepticism among other photographers at first. Even he was unsure. But then the offbeat images began making it into print. The arc of the story changed." In the picture above, a Pakistani boy leaps into the water in Lahore. In the pictures below, Pakistani children try to move a cart in an Islamabad slum and watch a monkey stand on a goat in Lahore:
But today's coverage doesn't encompass all positive news efforts. There's also the website PakPositive (which is currently leading with a story on a Pakistani cricket player and Indian tennis player getting married) and its corresponding #PakPositive Twitter hashtag. The founder, who's from Karachi, explains why he decided to create the site in an FAQ:
All I read about Pakistan or any of our cities was in relation with terrorism, hatred, violence, bigotry, intolerance, bomb-blasts, Al-Qaeda, extremism, etc. At that point I truly craved for some 'ordinary' news from Pakistan. After all, we are a living, breathing society where something 'civilized' must happen, or ordinary people aren't always killing each other to rid Pakistan of them! That's when I decided to start PakPositive.
Then there's the Islamabad-based charity Payaam Trust, which has created an album on its Facebook page called "Amazing Pakistan" to "show the world how 'Amazing' our Pakistan is." Here's one of the many breathtaking photos--the ancient Katasraj temple in Punjab province:
And finally there's the Pakistani television show Coke Studio, which is affiliated with Coca-Cola and features live musical performances. In an interview with Ad Age earlier this month, the show's producer, Rohail Hyatt, explained that "living in Pakistan and being Pakistani in this day and age, there's very little positive news coming out about us, especially in the Western media." He added that the show, now in its fourth season, is projecting "a great, softer image of Pakistan" to the world and "people are happy about it ... We're hungry for it." Here's a promo of this season's fourth episode: