#RIP47 – PIA PK 661 crash and Pakistan’s selective mourning

Photo courtesy: Dunya TV

I had just reached home from office and was pampering my baby since she had burned her hand by touching a hot iron, when I heard my office phone’s message tone ring. I had to check it because before I left the office I had sent a document to the team after editing and formatting; so I had this at the back of my mind that it could be anyone from the team asking to change or add something in it. It was a message from my organization’s security alert system saying that a PIA plane went missing while enroute to Islamabad from Chitral. My husband switched on the TV to see the update on the news. After the main headline the other important news was that Junaid Jamshed was on that plane too. These two news stories were playing one after the other, on repeat. The other people were just a number – 47.

I left the house with my baby and husband for my parents’ as Wednesday is their day. By the time I reached their house, the news had changed from missing to crashed, and confirming the presence of the famous pop singer-turned-evangelist along with his wife on the plane. Again, the two news stories kept airing one after the other. Very reluctantly, the news channels started showing names of other passengers and talked about them as well. Even this was a selected list, including the DC of Chitral and the father and son duo who were the pilots of the plane. The statuses about random people’s love for Junaid Jamshed started popping up all over Facebook along with his photos. Watching social media and the news, it felt like he was the only person onboard or it was just his life that mattered, which is unfair with the other families who lost their beloveds in the same crash.

What enraged me most was a headline stating ‘true Pakistani and Prophet’s devotee, Junaid Jamshed was also martyred in the plane crash’. What does this even mean? The others who died were not true Pakistanis? Were they Indian agents or just because they were not FAMOUS, they didn’t matter? It is highly possible that someone on that plane was on a better level of belief than Junaid Jamshed. May be someone else mattered more to his or her family. I felt really offended by this statement. And if this was not enough, the reporters took it to the next level and gathered outside Junaid Jamshed’s house.

I understand that he was more well-known than other people onboard but it was truly unfair to not include them in the news or giving them the same limelight as him. There was a father onboard whose baby was born a few weeks back while he was away for work and was coming back home to see his baby girl. He will never be able to hold his baby now. A family lost two men – father and a son – in one go, who will be missed forever. There were others who had dreams – big or small, doesn’t matter – which will never take shape. The families will live but they will be incomplete. The laughter they shared with their beloveds will just be memories now. They all are worthy to be mourned and remembered in the same way that a famous person deserves.

My heart goes out to all the families who have lost their loved one. May God give you all the strength to bear your loss, Amen.

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