QUESTIONS: HAIDER KAMAL ANSARI
Man thrived during the hunter-gatherer era, but he was far more intelligent and an epitome of endurance at that time. The quest for survival is a major motivator and as we have found out across the course of history, desperation can sometimes make one invincible. An example that resonates with us is the Pakistan cricket team led by Imran Khan, which although, being on the verge of elimination, played like cornered tigers and won the World Cup in 1992.
That hunger has subsided and has been taken over by vested interests, as evidenced by the dismal performance of the boys in green in the 50 over format for the last decade or more. However, political vendetta cannot surely be blamed too for every fiasco that has engulfed our nation, as that would assign undue credit to certain corners. The real reason, in my insignificant opinion, is that the hunger has disappeared and the pride has subsided, only to be overtaken by self-promotion and empty patriotism, as something had to fill those giant shoes. The hollowness in the mind and the stiffness of the heart readily traded places with this pride and hunger.
We used to be proud; incredibly proud as a nation. Now we create millions of views for musical work that is, in all fairness, a damning verdict of our declining standards, and a mockery of our intellectualism and artistic taste. However, the agenda behind such a ridiculous production is not just to become a laughing matter for decades to come, but actually to establish a business model to monetize viewership via advertising revenue, followed by lucrative media appearances. As they said in the old days, the girl in the red dress (in this case, the one in white, Good Lord) shall not be denied.
Such work does lend credence to the notion that these artists will gain acceptability in our society while trained artists will continue to drive rickshaws and sing on the streets. Such is the nature of the economic divide in the world. Insinuating that we will acclaim such artists for breaking barriers is preposterous, to begin with. However, this is the pure manifestation of growing consumerism that has invaded the minds of the millennials and even Generation X and Y – from Vital Signs and Junoon to ìhe who shall not be namedî. Alas, such fall from grace!
What is indeed appalling is the pace at which our media is conceding their intellectual sovereignty, and reaching new lows of journalism. In a world where the narrative is built to cement the future state of Palestine as the terrorist, and Israel as the oppressed, our media is no different. The standard bearer of the past, known to be conscientious, are now victims of continuous psychoanalysis of consumers and ratings, resulting in this massive decline in quality content. In the old days, media would not indulge in this nonsense, however, we are not those people anymore. The Panama leaks have furthered the notion that we would rather provoke politicians into shouting matches as opposed to tackling our unacceptable tax to GDP ratio. Political parties would rather block Pakistan International Airlinesí and Pakistan Steel Millsí privatization than simply focusing on how many billions it would save the country. The number is five hundred billion rupees in five years. Give that money to a group of entrepreneurs and they will demonstrate why we are second to none when it comes to human capital.
ëAfterthoughtí is probably a suitable word that comes to my barely sensible mind to describe the phenomena of women from a purely Pakistani perspective. Our track record on women is dubious, to say the least. We choose to easily forget Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, the mother of our nation and yet keep Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Sindh ki Beti, well alive. I wish both women were afforded the respect that they truly deserved. When the menís cricket team left no stone unturned in embarrassing our rich history in the sport, the womenís team was breaking barriers and taking a defiant stand in the face of adversity in India. However, the media, almost begrudgingly took a break from bashing the boys to give a forced pat on the back to the women. Such inconvenience!
It is not that women are not news worthy. We have a horrific, unaddressed human rights problem that the media is just not ready to highlight. Our media, with the exception of beautiful money launderers, prefers women to stay at home and raise children. So when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, the Daughter of our Nation, wins an Oscar for her tireless efforts and magnificent achievements as a social worker, activist and a film-maker, inspiring generations of women and men (including this big fan), certain media quarters paint her as an opportunist, profiteer, fraud, and even a traitor. Our treatment of women is our dirty little secret, and anyone bold enough to lift the lid is a heretic. We are, after all a country where a gang rape victim is viewed as an immoral woman, a school going teenager who won a Nobel Peace Prize is called a foreign agent, and a social activist is gunned down during her struggle to educate the masses. It appears that our media is embarrassed by how frequently these brave women break barriers to lead our country, where the men have plundered its wealth.
One is compelled to admit that while this is still a country for mothers and daughters, they must conform to the primitive value set of the status quo. Wrong! Does it even matter anymore that our amazingly misunderstood religion championed womenís rights? Try explaining that to the fanatics who set up shrines for assassins or rough up reformed preachers when they commit an honest mistake. Such is the decline of our tolerance.
However, all is not lost, for we are still a nation of abundant optimism. One is hopeful that the media will mature and talk about issues plaguing the country, both social and economic, as opposed to being an inferior Jerry Springer show. We have the best young minds in the world and it is up to the leaders to harness the potential of our human capital, only if they think beyond themselves. The Pakistani people deserve better.
The writer of this article is an investment banker by profession and dreams of privatizing every single entity rampant with corruption. He is convinced that the government should not run corporations, but should instead exercise its efforts towards collecting taxes for building hospitals, schools and some roads. 256639 hell.