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June 14, 2020

Dilemma of a local journalist and funerals under ‘restrictions’

Islamabad

 
June 14, 2020

This Saturday shook me hard and sent a chill wave down my spine. Wife of Syed Anis Ahmed, a long-time colleague and a thorough media professional, is no more.

I do not know much about the causes of this untimely death but the one thing that I know is that he stopped me from coming to funeral due to some “restrictions”.

I have been addicted to reading newspapers the first thing in the morning and have no qualms admitting that Mr Ahmed stand in the frontline of journalists who have a part in creating awareness about health issues in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

He is unlike those small-timers who show off their paid stories to line national and international donors and curry favours with whoever is in power.

It is tragic that his better half kicks the bucket so unceremoniously and so untimely, that too on a Saturday. Saturdays have always been a day of change as I post my comment on this day in public interest in this space focusing on Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

I have seen enough of my friends and frontline corona warriors getting sick in the recent past.

This is the sixth Saturday, I have been writing about awareness about this pandemic from different angles for the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. This column was scheduled to be an informed comment on what and what not this budget has in store for Islamabad.

Having seen a lot of journalists, including my students, covering budget and ignoring COVID-19 SOPs, I would only say that do not take this pandemic for just a story, happening to someone else. No. It is not the case.

Last week, the Punjab government has announced cash support for 44 journalists infected by coronavirus. Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat has recently tweeted a photo of journalists gathered in a room with their cameras to attend a press conference without wearing masks.

I take comments from decision-makers in the twin cities regularly so that my readers may be updated with what and how they think. It removes misunderstandings and leads to saving lives. It has also been explained to the readers that who creates the mess and who is out to stop what they have not started. City managers should be speaking in city columns and it is the job of writers to enter their minds and lay out their challenges and plans to public.

Today I was scheduled to interview Rawalpindi RPO Dr TajiK Sohail Habib but due to this sad demise, I did not have it in me to go anywhere. However, Dr Habib’s message is clear for the masses - corona is a reality, it is not a hoax.

He has his “awareness, education, enforcement” model, which must be pursued. He is quite right in saying that politicians, bureaucrats and media should all pull together at this testing time. I think they should all be on the table devising a strategy that may work in the interest of the people of twin cities, failing which we or our friends may receive the horrible messages about funerals being held under “restrictions”. — Hassan Shehzad