The world is abuzz in anguish against Israel’s military action against the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ of aid ships carrying relief goods for embargoed Gaza. Condemnations are pouring in for this military action in international waters. The irony in the tragedy is not lost on the world – in 1947, the ship Exodus 1947 carrying Jewish immigrants wanting to get to Jerusalem had similarly been stopped by the British authorities and the dramatic struggle that resulted had been influential in changing world opinion towards the creation of the state of Israel.
The world politics implications of the incident aside, the immediate concern of many is about the safety of nationals from nearly 40 countries, including many journalists, who were in this relief goods flotilla. These include three Pakistanis – senior journalist and well known TV anchor Talat Hussain of Aaj TV, his cameraman Raza Mahmood Agha, and a Pakistani NGO activist Nadeem Ahmed.
Pakistani authorities (including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister) have condemned the incident and are trying to find more information on the health and safety of these three Pakistanis but as yet no confirmed information is available. Given that according to various reports as many as 20 people might already have been killed and up to 26 injured in the Israeli attack on the relief goods flotilla, this lack of information is exciting further anguish amongst Pakistanis. [UPDATE: we are now hearing that the three Pakistanis aboard the flotilla are all alive and well, but now captured in Israel].
Talat Hussain is one of the most respected TV anchors in Pakistan and known for his balanced, sober and in-depth analysis of national as well as international politics. I first got to know him when he was still a student of international affairs at the Islamabad Quaid-i-Azam Univeristy and more so when he later managed the op-ed pages of The News (when Maliha Lodhi was its founding editor). Since then, I have interacted with him when he was at PTV Current Affairs and now at Aaj TV. In my view he is the least populist and most balanced of our TV anchors. A journalist of the highest integrity and one who has never strayed far from his intellectual and scholarly roots even as he has blossomed as a public communicator of excellence.
My prayers are with him and his family; as they are with the two other Pakistanis and all others on the flotilla, and indeed with all in the world, everywhere. Prayers of peace seem not to be answered to often in today’s world, but let us pray for peace and safety for all nonetheless.
Merely wishing for peace and justice in the world will not make the world a saner place. But to give up on even that wish will surely make the world even more insane than it already is.