BY BIKRAM VOHRA
Why is it that certain acts of terrorism and gratuitous violence simply slip off the news page while others garner attention? The obvious response would be that faceless people in weak nations or parts of nations who are already marginalized don’t really count. Consequently, a bomb explosion in upmarket Mall in some urban enclave of our world received instant attention while 60 people killed in blast in a remote part of Pakistan get a passing reference with the obligatory assurance that the victims will be traced.
By the same token 30 soldiers killed in Sinai doesn’t really raise a global eyebrow. After all, soldiers are cannon fodder and that is the risk they take? Right. Similarly, whether it is Yemen, Iraq or Syria, nations who wake to the sound of gunfire, death tolls are merely statistics and don’t sell as hot news. The recent killings in Kirkuk did not even make the front page even though two bombs in a marketplace and other simultaneous attacks with a casualty rate still under count. The two hostages with the Daesh militants, one Jordanian and another Japanese are still captive. In fact Jordan has even proposed an unprecedented prisoner swap that could set a new standard for hostage taking but it is the sheer helplessness of it that makes the government do anything it can to save life. Anything that happens in Africa, however cruel and callous, is shrugged off as ‘well, what do you expect, it is Africa’ and even the reassurances ring hollow. Even in Kiev, as Ukraine truce talks collapse there is crimson staining the city of Minsk and all the UN can do is critique Russia, like it was reviewing a poorly plotted novel.
There is little doubt that we now live in a world of such instant communication that even violence has been given a lift. It is so easy to plan and execute. There are no geographical boundaries. The phrase ‘collateral damage’ has lost its significance. No one seems to care any more. And with each bloodstained link in this chain of death, one begins to wonder if the loss of lives of the truly innocent victims makes us even pause for a moment. Cynicism has established its credentials centre-stage and we expect the blurring of the headline, mere words and numbers that fall off the space and disappear from the sound box leaving not even an echo in our heads.
In fact, it is a bleak day as we cascade into February. The blueprint for the new settlements in the West Bank promise more acrimony that a roof over the head. That takes the number of dwelling units for settlers to over 2,600.
And in Syria’s refugee enclaves children huddle against the cold because there is a shortage of blankets. Do you have an extra one?