Hurricane Ian vs Pakistan’s floods: The double standards in reporting

By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: They say a tragedy is not a tragedy unless it involves a white man. Over the past few weeks, Pakistan has suffered through one of the worst natural disasters in recent history. With one third of the country submerged underwater, thousands of lives lost and millions displaced, one would have expected the floods in Pakistan to raise alarm and evoke sympathy in the Western world. Like when the UK heatwave became a huge cause of concern. Or how in more recent times, Hurricane Ian in Florida is causing Americans to go into major panic. But instead, they remained silent. Would Pakistan get the same amount of coverage and sympathy if we were white and blue eyed? Here is a look into how different the coverage for Hurricane Ian has been from the coverage the floods in Pakistan have gotten.

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The real heroes

Imagine the privilege one must have to be considered a “storm chasing legend.” Headlines were recently made when Jim Cantore, a weather reporter, was struck by a tree branch while on ground during the hurricane. As it turns out, braving through extreme weather conditions is a choice many channels actively make to get higher ratings. Storm chasers like Cantore go out on the ground despite warnings that everyone has to flee to safety. It is a luxury they enjoy, having the choice to make these risks.

And then on the other hand, we have Pakistani flood rescue operations where volunteers are risking their lives everyday. Despite the deep waters below and lack of resources available to them, they still are giving it their all to save the flood victims. They do so because if they don’t, who will? The only difference is, these heroes will never make the news in mainstream Western media.

Animal Rescues

Animals rescue videos at the time of any natural disasters are always heartwarming to watch. People braving through extreme weather conditions to save the helpless souls are always considered heroes. Which is why it made headlines when a man saved a stranded cat during the Hurricane Ian. Well technically, he saved the cat before the hurricane hit but there was still fast flowing water all around.

But that was also happening on a much larger scale during the floods in Pakistan! And to be fair, our animal rescuers were braving through far worse when it came to saving animals with far little resources. No one highlights the make shift animal shelters being made by the very people who have all but lost everything to the floods.

Flooded house

As the residents of Florida braced themselves for the hurricane to hit, they also made sure to whip out their cameras to film their flooded houses. Some people described the water gushing into their house like a scene out of titanic. Quite naturally, the videos have people offer their sympathies on the losses the home owners will have to endure.

Unfortunately for the flood victims in Pakistan, they did not have time to film the destruction which is why it became a bit difficult for people in the Western world to visualize their loss and express their sympathies and offer help. 

The point of this comparison is not to belittle one group of victims but rather to prove that both the people in America and the people in Pakistan are suffering. While America has the means to evacuate, rehabilitate and rebuild, Pakistan doesn’t. And so if we were given the same amount of coverage as America and Hurricane Ian was given, the help would have gone a long way.

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