Pakistani Press Reports on Sandy Through Election Lense
The Pakistani community newspapers in New York has had a two-front approach to covering the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy.
The papers mainly relied on translations into Urdu of stories from the mainstream press but their own articles largely focused on the storm’s effects on the November 6 elections and the Obama Administration’s response to the disaster.
“Sandy will determine Obama’s future,” was the headline of the lead article in Pakistan Post, a leading Urdu language weekly.
The article noted that Sandy will likely have an impact in the campaigns of President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney.
“The storm may affect voter turnout on November 6 which may have negative implications for President Obama’s re-election bid,” noted correspondent M. R. Farrukh.
“Sandy changes, economy, politics” was the headline of another article on the front page of Pakistan Post. The author, Azim Mian, wrote that the superstorm had “exposed” the farsightedness of New York City agencies whose planning seemed helpless in the face of nature’s fury.
“One cannot escape the feeling after looking at the scale of destruction that a superpower that wins every economic, cultural and military challenge in every corner of the world looks helpless in front of this calamity.”
The newspaper praised President Obama’s handling of the crisis in an editorial and urged Pakistani American voters to join the massive relief effort and use it as a window to enter mainstream America.
“We appeal to the million-strong Pakistani community in the U.S. to not just make an effort to join the national mainstream but also prove to their compatriots through their actions that they are part of this society,” says the editorial. It praises ICNA Relief, which describes itself as the only American Muslim disaster relief agency, for being the first Islamic faith-based agency to join Sandy’s relief effort. ICNA has established a $100,000 Disaster Response Fund for families impacted by the hurricane.
Some in the Pakistani media also criticized Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, which announced that it was setting up a hotline to help affected families even before Sandy made landfall. The Pakistan Post reported that the embassy had gone on Pakistani television channels and other media outlets to talk about the hotline which would be available 24 hours a day. “But the fact of the matter is no one picks the phone when you call the hotline number,” said the report.
Nadeem Hotiana, Pakistan’s press attache at the DC embassy, denied the claims in the story. “We did not receive any complaints from any one within the community,” he told Voices over the phone.
In an editorial, the Urdu Times praised the Obama Administration for its handling of Sandy. “The government was well-prepared for the storm. All the cities and state agencies were on alert and every effort was made to minimize the human and property losses. The government was largely successful in the effort and deserves full credit for it.”
The community paper Sada-e-Pakistan carried stories about the storm while The Pakistani Newspaper, an online news portal also produced by Sada-e-Pakistan, carried some video stories in Urdu, showing the scale of destruction.